Under the Influence

Zuckerberg (again):

That [Facebook] influenced the election in any way is a pretty crazy idea.

The New York Times,  November 4, 2014:

In the 2010 election, similar nudging by Facebook resulted in 340,000 additional votes nationwide…

Facebook’s get-out-the-vote tests have come under scrutiny because of the company’s potential to sway elections if it were to selectively urge voters in certain areas and not others to vote.

So which is it?

A Note About Facebook

So, Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States.

Lots of the discussion of last night’s events among my circle of friends has taken place, as things do these days, on Facebook. One of the largest individual contributors to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was Peter Thiel, billionaire co-founder of PayPal. He sits on the board of Facebook.

Facing internal criticism about Thiel’s presence on the board in the wake of his campaign contribution, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote:

I want to quickly address the questions and concerns about Peter Thiel as a board member and Trump supporter… We can’t create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate. There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia or accepting sexual assault.

So that’s what a culture of diversity looks like? I wish to hell we had a different place to hang out, friends.

Heroes or Traitors

Mild spoilers ahead.


I saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens on Friday. One of the film’s protagonists is Finn (John Boyega), a Stormtrooper who deserts his unit and joins the Resistance after being ordered to participate in the slaughter of civilians on the desert planet of Jakku.

That’s why I found it so jarring to see that a pair of Stormtroopers had [appeared] at the White House press briefing alongside Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Friday. Evidently the irony was lost on those in the West Wing who have ignored appeals for the pardon of Private Chelsea Manning.

Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the United States Disciplinary Barracks in Fort Leavenworth for leaking military records from the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Her act of whistleblowing was prompted in part by [footage] of an army helicopter firing on unarmed civilians.

So, a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, a soldier who abandons their post in an act of conscious resistance is our hero. But in the United States, a soldier who reveals a war crime to the world is a traitor who has spent the last six years in military prison.

I guess those two Stormtroopers know where they belong.