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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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Facebook was Ground Zero in the Russian effort to interfere in the 2016 US presidential election.
The so-called Russian Internet Research Agency paid the social media platform to place what, ultimately, would be thousands of fake political ads so as to disrupt the election and help elect Republican Donald Trump.
That central role it played essentially as a “useful idiot” in Russia’s attack on American democracy leaves Facebook–and CEO Mark Zuckerberg–with much to atone for.
So it came as welcome news that Facebook joined with YouTube to block the distribution over their respective networks of an alleged identity and likeness of the whistleblower in the Ukraine scandal which is at the center of the ongoing impeachment inquiry against Donald Trump.
Facebook said that it is blocking the whistleblower’s name and photo under its policy against “coordinating harm.” YouTube reportedly said something similar.
Their position is in line with major media outlets, which also are shielding the alleged identity of the whistleblower.
It’s simply the right thing to do.
Despite the harsh and dishonest rhetoric coming from Trump and his allies, the whistleblower–any whistleblower–is a potential witness to a crime and should be protected as such while the proper authorities (in this case, Congress) fully investigate the alleged crime.
Which makes it all the more dismaying and disappointing that the other major player in the world of social media–Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey–chose not to make what should have been the right and easy choice to shield the whistleblower.
Certainly, the alleged identity of whistleblower will undoubtedly drive traffic to Dorsey’s service.
But sometimes, the right business decision isn’t about the quick buck.
Even if Dorsey and his Twitter colleagues don’t see the benefit just in being a good corporate citizen, there are other savvy reasons to protect the whistleblower.
He has to be aware of the growing move afoot to have the federal government look at the size and scope of big tech giants like Twitter.
Better to have joined the rest of its industry on this one and not given official Washington any further reason to put the sector under scrutiny.
Except that’s what Jack Dorsey has just chosen to do.
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