© Jack Gruber

I’m Not Afraid of Facebook

Rich Zeoli Column

Rich Zeoli
April 12, 2018 - 9:07 am

Watching the Mark Zuckerberg show on Capitol Hill this week it occurred to me the very people grilling him did absolutely nothing when it was revealed that the National Security Agency was spying on us. Former Director James Clapper lied to Congress when he said no. So here’s Congress pretending to care about our privacy and there’s Zuck pretending to care about our privacy and here’s me thinking Facebook is not the problem.

Some were wondering why Zuck wasn’t under oath. Doesn’t matter. As Professor Jonathan Turley put it regarding the lying James Clapper: “Even in a city with a notoriously fluid notion of truth, Clapper’s false testimony was a standout. Clapper appeared before the Senate to discuss surveillance programs in the midst of a controversy over warrantless surveillance of the American public. He was asked directly, “Does the NSA collect any type of data at all on millions, or hundreds of millions of Americans?” There was no ambiguity or confusion and Clapper responded, “No, sir. … Not wittingly.” That was a lie and Clapper knew it when he said it.”

I get it. Facebook can inundate you with annoying crockpot ads because you made the seemingly innocent mistake of liking your friend’s french onion soup recipe. You haven’t seen your friend in 20 years and you don’t even like french onion soup but it felt right at the time and now the people that make those little ceramic bowls have all your data. Annoying I get it.

I also understand how frustrating it can be to fill out a survey on your political beliefs where you are shocked to find out that you most closely identify with a mix between Oprah and Donald Trump which causes your former college roommate to flood your page you links on why Oprah is the answer to America’s problems. Annoying. For sure.

And of course the cat videos. Charming and fun and always a way to ensure that your precious moments of life are fully wasted while permanently altering our brain chemistry so that the only way we perceive pleasure is if someone gives us the heart emoji.

Despite all of this threat to our humanity, I still can’t get riled up over Facebook. Let me put it this way. Can Facebook raid your home in the middle of the night in a no-knock raid to serve a search warrant? Can Facebook raid your attorney’s office and violate attorney client privilege? Can Facebook use unlimited government resources to spy on you under the guise of catching terrorists but really for political purposes? No. Facebook can do none of these things. Government can and does, however, and we are literally watching all of this play out before our very eyes.

Facebook is voluntary. No one is making us use it and no one is making us like anything we don’t want to like. We can opt out.

How do I opt out of my government? Better question, how do I opt out of the political weaponization that has become federal law enforcement? This brings me to my new theorem: every civil liberty violation we allow in order to get a bad guy, will one day be weaponized and used for political purposes. We weren’t complaining years ago when attorney client privilege was being destroyed for the purposes of busting the Mafia and taking down drug kingpins. We all know Tom Hagen orchestrated the horse in the bed as Consigliere and Saul Goodman laundered carwash money. Did we care when the FISA Courts were approving 99.7% of FBI requests to spy on people? Hell no, we gotta catch terrorists. Was there gnashing of teeth about the NSA collecting our phone, email, and text message data? No, it’s a scary world out there besides it’s just metadata and I don’t even know what that means.

In full disclosure, I was warning about these things and so were true civil libertarians like Alan Dershowitz.

So this week, while Zuck was doing his best Captain Renault “Shocked, shocked, to find data mining in here,” the very same people that voted to renew the FISA Act despite serious 4th Amendment violations that led to an American citizen to be spied on as a means to infiltrate a political campaign; voted for the ‘Cloud Act ‘which allows FOREIGN governments to access our data without a search warrant; and didn’t really seem to mind that the Justice Department violated attorney client privilege between a lawyer and his client, the President of the United States.

So forgive me for not getting riled up over Facebook. The hearings were a farce. Congress doesn’t care about your privacy anymore than Zuck does. But he is not the problem. They are. They are the ones who still allow the Bill of Rights to be treated like an afterthought as the law enforcement power of the federal government grows like a beast suffocating liberty, all in the name of getting the ‘bad guy.’

Next time they want to destroy another of our fledgling civil liberties to get a bad guy, please do what I do. Say no. Scream no. Because that tactic will be weaponized and used for political purposes.

And while we are on the subject, please like our new and improved cat-video free facebook page facebook.com/ZeoliShow.