Understanding Facebook’s 419 Community Standards


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Editorial Note: 419 is a term used to refer to an advance-fee fraud, also known as a 419 fraud. It is a type of scam in which the victim is convinced to advance money or trust to a stranger. In all such scams, the victim is led to expect that a much larger sum of money or responsibility will be returned to him or her.

Facebook is a very irresponsible company when it comes to its own internal community’s standards. According to an article from Wired, entitled, Facebook’s Dirty Tricks Are Nothing New for Tech, the company is guilty of everything from gross corruption, and abuse, to paying for fake news.


The most recent example: Facebook’s efforts to undermine critics with a PR campaign that simultaneously attacked George Soros using anti-Semitic tropes and complained that attacks on Facebook were themselves anti-Semitic, according to an investigation in The New York Times. The story described how Definers, a Republican opposition-research firm hired by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg, used NTK Network, an alleged “fake news shop,” to spread positive stories about Facebook and negative stories about its competitors, even as Facebook vowed to clean up the fake news on its platform.

Facebook’s willingness to play dirty raises broader questions not only about the dark arts tech companies employ, but also this: Why did we expect any different? When their growth or profit is challenged, Facebook and its big brothers borrow tactics from the threatened behemoths in industries like tobacco and oil, deceiving lawmakers, funding their own experts, and working to forestall regulation. Facebook has executed the strategy so successfully that for a time this summer, its market cap was greater than Exxon’s and Altria’s combined.

What was different was the way Big Tech cloaked itself in idealistic rhetoric about freeing information, connecting the world, and spreading democracy, even as in Facebook’s case, it ignored ethnic genocide in Myanmar, flouted fair housing laws, and instructed a WhatsApp founder to mislead antitrust regulators.

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