"While Facebook holds itself out as a leading information sharing platform, it certainly is not a 'news' service: In its present form, Facebook should be seen for what it plainly is, a profit-seeking vehicle that derives outsized financial returns monetizing valuable user information for which it pays little," Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel said, commenting on Glenn Greenwald's latest article exposing the media platform's alleged bias.
On December 30, Greenwald, an investigative journalist, author and co-founder of The Intercept, a media outlet, drew attention to what he sees as nothing short of state censorship being promoted by the social networking giant Facebook.
He also noted that the media platform appears to "follow the censorship orders of the US government," referring to the shutting down of Facebook and Instagram pages of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Russia's Chechen Republic under the pretext of him being "added to a United States sanctions list."
"What this means is obvious: that the US government — meaning, at the moment, the Trump administration — has the unilateral and unchecked power to force the removal of anyone it wants from Facebook and Instagram by simply including them on a sanctions list," the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist concluded.
Does Trump Really Control Facebook?
The question arises whether Facebook is really that obedient to the Trump administration.
"I do not reach this conclusion," Ortel responded. "In fact, one could argue that many Silicon Valley giants and their principal shareholders are left-leaning partisans who may even attempt, from time to time, to subvert the interests of conservatives elected to positions of political power at home and abroad."
In one of his previous interviews with Sputnik, Ortel drew attention to the controversial behavior of Facebook and Google, including their collusion with the Clinton campaign during the 2016 presidential election and cooperation with left-wing mainstream media outlets to prop up their anti-Trump narrative.
"What we've seen so far is shocking. Over 90 percent of the news was negative (on Trump). I think that kind of stuff happens all the time," the Wall Street analyst noted when speaking to RT this October. According to Ortel, the Google search engine is seemingly suppressing conservative analysts who are critical of the left-wing and 'progressive' beliefs shared by the billionaires who ran Silicon Valley.
'Silicon Valley Giants United in Promoting Unregulated Globalism'
Speaking to Sputnik on late Friday the analyst pointed out that "from a faddish tool allowing for expression, Facebook has evolved to become one of the more consequential outlets used to comment in a truly global community."
"Facebook's meteoric rise to prominence happened in moments before any empowered 'global' regulators have sprung into existence," Ortel noted. "Where Silicon Valley seems united is in promoting unregulated globalism, and certain causes championed by globalists including global warming, and population control."
"As for following the lead of Israeli government requests, under Barack Obama's presidency, I am not sure we would conclude, after fair examination, that the US government was so pliant," the analyst suggested.
'Censorship of Global Audience Topic Worth Careful Consideration'
Ortel explained that "in theory, the US constitution protects freedom of expression within the contours of our physical boundaries as a nation — but inciting violence is not deemed to be protected speech."
The analyst stressed "that censorship of global audiences by national governments is a topic worth careful consideration," adding that "also worth examining is whether owners of platforms serving global audiences fairly compensate users for information they provide that then is monetized."
"As for the activities of foreign Facebook users operating outside the United States, I would have thought it wiser to either leave suspicious accounts open and let foreign governments monitor them lawfully, or to bring appropriate suspects in for questioning and, as warranted, prosecution by foreign governments," he suggested.
Israeli Commentator: 'Greenwald's Article Divorced From Reality'
For his part, Israeli political analyst and commentator Avigdor Eskin is far more categorical. According to the Israeli commentator, Greenwald's article "is totally divorced from the reality."
"Many Israelis consider Facebook to be hostile to them," Eskin stressed. "There are ten cases against Facebook, Google and Instagram brought to US courts recently. We are talking about Israeli victims of terrorism alongside with victims from Paris and Istanbul."
The political analyst quoted Israeli attorney Nitzana Darshan-Laitner, who is involved in the proceeding. She told the analyst that all her cases indicate that Facebook constantly demonstrates a laissez-faire attitude towards terrorist organizations: "They [Facebook] did not learn from the past tragic events, when the massive slaughter events were prepared by the terrorists via social media. The US court will force them to obey the law," she underscored.
Eskin referred to a 2015 lawsuit filed by a group of 20,000 Israelis against Facebook. According to the plaintiffs, the social media network violated the Anti-Terrorism Act by providing services to Palestinian groups that help them in "recruiting, radicalizing, and instructing terrorists, raising funds, creating fear and carrying out attacks." The suit was brought to the New York State District Court amid the 10-month long Israeli-Palestinian clashes; since then, the case has been under consideration.
What's Behind the Israeli Crack Down on Palestinian Facebook Accounts
What is being described by Greenwald should be regarded in a broader context, the Israeli analyst emphasized.
"The interference of the Israeli government took place two years ago, when the knife attack epidemic took place almost every day in Israeli," Eskin recalled. "This was defined by PM Netanyahu as the 'Facebook intifada'. The terrorist organization ISIS [Daesh] then used the social media to incite and to recruit young Palestinians to stab Israeli pedestrians or their cars over them. This became a daily experience. Facebook became a tool of ISIS for incitement and recruiting."
The commentator pointed out that the government of Israel provided Facebook with relevant data and several radical groups were shut down. "We are talking about groups where actual murderers were inspired and recruited," he stressed, adding that those who are opposing the measure indirectly endorse terror activities.
"The author [Greenwald] implies that Facebook shuts down legitimate Palestinian groups and lets the Israelis practice hate speech. This is outrageous distortion," Eskin said.
'Claims That Facebook a Tool of US, Israeli Censorship are Groundless'
"First, the Israeli government takes legal measures against any citizen of Israel who practices hate speech and incitement, while the Palestinian autonomy names streets after mass murderers and helps the families of terrorists. Second, the Arab groups which were shut down were not [eliminated due to] hate speech but recruitment and direct incitement for murder," the Israeli commentator highlighted, adding that in contrast, the Israelis do not practicing terrorism against their neighbors.
According to Eskin, the claim that Facebook has become a tool of US and Israeli government censorship is fairly exaggerated: "The government of Israel protects citizens from the attempts of ISIS [Daesh] and other terrorist groups to murder them. Does it violate the freedom of speech of ISIS terrorists? Yes, it does. No freedom of recruitment and direct instructions to kill innocent people."
The analysts believe that Facebook is not demonstrating obedience to state actors, being a left-wing globalist tool in the first place, and that the Silicon Valley company is primarily focused on gaining profits and playing its own game, which appears to be rather dangerous.
The views and opinions expressed by Charles Ortel, Avigdor Eskin, and Ekaterina Blinova are those of the contributors and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.