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Iran MPs criticize social media arrests ahead of elections

Iranian MPs have criticized the arrests of journalists and social media organizers ahead of the presidential election in May, with one directly accusing the elite Revolutionary Guards in a letter published Saturday.

The arrests in recent days are alleged to have targeted unnamed people who run channels on the popular messaging site Telegram supporting reformists and the moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani.

Two prominent journalists — Ehsan Mazandarani and Morad Saghafi — have also been detained.

Mahmoud Sadeghi, a reformist MP, wrote an open letter to Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad-Ali Jafari, calling on the organization to stay out of politics.

“Some incidents in recent days, including the simultaneous arrests of managers of Telegram channels with close associations to reformists and supporters of the government, which has apparently been done by the intelligence arm of the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards), has raised a wave of concern in society,” Sadeghi wrote in the letter published by the ILNA news agency.

Several other MPs have also criticized the arrests in open letters this week.

Outspoken moderate-conservative MP Ali Motahari threatened to seek the impeachment of the intelligence minister if he did not provide details of the arrests.

The Revolutionary Guards operate their own intelligence wing independently of the government and answerable only to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Rouhani, who will seek re-election on May 19, has united moderates and reformists with his efforts to improve relations with the West, despite largely failing to win the release of jailed opposition leaders or improve civil rights as he promised during the 2013 campaign.

Telegram, which has an estimated 20 million users in Iran, has become the leading site for political and cultural discussions in a country where Facebook and Twitter are banned.

The authorities have tried to control the site, demanding that channels with more than 5,000 followers register with the government.

A reformist newspaper also reported Saturday that Faezeh Hashemi, daughter of revolutionary founder Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, had again been sentenced to six months for “spreading falsehoods” after she accused the judiciary of corruption.

Hashemi, a vocal supporter of opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi during the mass protests that followed the disputed 2009 election, previously served six months in jail for “disrupting public opinion” in 2012-13.

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Trump blows up at Germany over ‘vast sums of money’ owed to NATO in series of tweets

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/03/trump-blows-up-at-germany-over-vast-sums-of-money-owed-to-nato-in-series-of-tweets/

 

As is his custom on Saturday mornings when he is vacationing at his Mar-a-Lago resort, President Donald Trump jumped on Twitter to complain about something — this time taking shots at both the media and Germany.

Following a meeting and press conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel — where Trump refused to shake hands with the German leader and she gave him a dismissive glance when he brought up surveillance of both of them — Trump felt the need to set the record straight in typical Trump fashion on Twitter.

“Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel,” Trump began in his first tweet before getting to his latest complaint.

“Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!” he continued.

‘Irish slaves’: Historian destroys racist myth conservatives love to share on Facebook

White supremacists have been promoting the myth that the first slaves brought to the Americas were Irish, not African — but a historian says there’s simply no evidence to back their racist claims.

Liam Hogan, a research librarian at the Limerick City Library, set about debunking the myth after spotting a widely shared Global Research article in 2013 and realized its potential for misinformation, reported Hatewatch.

“It was quite clear to me then that many would never engage with the history of the transatlantic slave trade when they had this false equivalence to fall back on,” Hogan told the website. “I think that’s what convinced me that I needed to put the record straight.”

The myth essentially equates indentured or penal servitude with racialized perpetual hereditary chattel slavery, Hogan said.

Racists claim the Irish slave trade began in 1612 and was not abolished until 1839, and they insist “white slavery” has been covered up by “politically correct” historians.
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“The various memes make many claims including (but not limited to) the following: that ‘Irish slaves’ were treated far worse than black slaves, that there were more ‘Irish slaves’ than black slaves, that ‘Irish slaves’ were worth less than black slaves, that enslaved Irish women were forced to breed with enslaved African men and that the Irish were slaves for much longer than black slaves,” Hogan said.

“This is then invariably followed up by overtly racist statements,” he added. “For example, ‘Yet, when is the last time you heard an Irishman bitching and moaning about how the world owes them a living?’”

Hogan hasn’t isolated the myth’s first appearance on social media, but it’s been a common trope on the white supremacist website Stormfront since at least 2003 and has been trotted out as an argument against reparations for slavery and to attack the Black Lives Matter movement.

He pointed to a 2014 post on Alex Jones’ Infowars website that attacked both Black Lives Matter and reparations by promoting several falsehoods about “Irish slavery.”
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“It appropriates the massacre of around 132 African victims of the genocidal transatlantic slave trade in order to diminish it,” Hogan said, referring to the Zong massacre in 1781. “If you look at the Infowars version of the meme you’ll see it has even appended an extra zero, making the number of victims amount to 1,302, while adding that ‘these slaves weren’t from Africa, these forgotten souls were from Ireland.’ This shameless appropriation is then used by Infowars to mock calls for reparatory justice for slavery.”

The myth has become nearly ubiquitous in social media discussions on slavery and race — and it was even promoted by a blogger on the liberal Daily Kos website.

“There was almost no situation where the meme was not used to derail discussions about the legacy of slavery or ongoing anti-black racism,” Hogan said. “Starting with Ferguson and with almost every subsequent police killing of an unarmed black person from late 2014 through 2015, the meme was used to mock and denigrate the Black Lives Matter movement. It is in a sense the ‘historical’ version of the disingenuous All Lives Matter response to demands for justice and truth telling.”

Hogan has collected hundreds of examples of the fallacious argument, which he has shared on Twitter and Tumblr, and he said some of those memes have been shared hundreds of thousands of times on Facebook.

The myth is especially popular among Confederate apologists, and Hogan cites several examples of its deployment during the debate over Confederate flag displays in the wake of the fatal shootings of nine black churchgoers by a white supremacist.

“This year I’ve tracked the meme being shared by the Texas League of the South, History of the True South, Love My Confederate Ancestors and the Sons of Confederate Veterans,” Hogan said. “They seem to believe that this meme somehow negates the fact that the Confederacy fought a war to perpetually enslave millions of African-Americans and their descendants.”

The myth is often supported with citations to the books “To Hell or Barbados,” by Sean O’Callaghan, and “White Cargo,” by Don Jordan and Michael A. Walsh — both of which are historically questionable, according to Hogan, but he said most articles about “Irish slaves” don’t even quote from those sources.

Instead, Hogan said most of those articles rely heavily on an unreferenced blog post and the self-published work of Holocaust denier Michael A. Hoffman II.

Hogan said his concerns are shared by at least 81 academics and historians, and he hopes to set the record straight in his own book.

“I would like to reclaim the history of Irish servitude in the 17th century Anglo-Caribbean and present it in context for a general audience,” he said. “The Cromwellian policy of forced transportation to the colonies in the 1650s (which included an estimated 10,000 Irish people) understandably scars our collective memory and it deserves both respect and close attention from anyone interested in the history of the unfree labor systems in the Atlantic world.”

He said the myth’s appeal reveals an essential element of racist thought — and the way those beliefs are exploited to justify discriminatory laws.

“The racism then flows as these various groups of Neo-Nazis posit why whites can overcome a ‘worse’ situation than blacks and ‘do not whine about it,’” Hogan said. “So the ‘get over it’ racism that so often accompanies the meme is not about history at all. It goes much deeper than that.”

“Their belief is that non-whites can’t move on due to racial inferiority or social pathology,” he continued. “So through false equivalence and erasure, they attempt to remove history as a determinant so that they can claim the current socioeconomic position and mass incarceration of black people in the U.S. is due to racial inferiority.”

This story was originally published April 20, 2016.

German minister wants $53 million fines for social media hate posts

BERLIN (AP) — Germany’s justice minister is proposing fines of up to 50 million euros ($53 million) for social networking sites that fail to swiftly remove illegal content, such as hate speech or defamatory “fake news.”

The plan proposed Tuesday marks a further step in Germany’s attempt to impose its strict domestic laws against incitement on the free-wheeling world of online chatter.

Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a member of the center-left Social Democratic Party, said social media companies had already taken voluntary steps to crack down on hate crimes that have resulted in improvements.

“This isn’t sufficient yet,” Maas said, citing research that he said showed Twitter deletes just 1 percent of illegal content flagged by users, while Facebook deletes 39 percent.

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. (CC BY-SA 3.0, A. Savin, Wikipedia)

German Justice Minister Heiko Maas. (CC BY-SA 3.0, A. Savin, Wikipedia)

The proposal would require companies to provide a round-the-clock service for users to flag illegal content, which would have to be removed by the site within seven days. All copies of the content would also have to be deleted and social media companies would need to publish a quarterly report detailing how they have dealt with such material.

Sites would also have to nominate a person responsible for handling complaints, who could face fines of up to 5 million euros ($5.3 million) personally if the company fails to abide by mandatory standards.

Maas said the measures, which will become part of a bill to be put before Parliament, wouldn’t restrict freedom of speech that already exists in Germany and there were no plans to create a “truth commission” against so-called fake news.

But he noted that fake news could constitute illegal content “if it constitutes slander, defamation or libel.”

Facebook declined to comment directly on the new proposal, but insisted that tests the company had commissioned showed higher rates of removal than those cited by Maas. Facebook also said it had taken measures to train staff in how to deal with the legal situation in Germany and expects to have 700 people in Berlin examining flagged content by the end of the year.

Twitter, too, declined to comment on the proposal. However, the company noted a number of measures taken in recent months that it said are designed to prevent abuse and allow users to filter unwanted content.

Switzerland to launch Holocaust remembrance app

A Swiss app will help users learn about the Holocaust.

BERLIN (JTA) — A new app to teach youth about the Holocaust will be a centerpiece of Switzerland’s chairmanship of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance.

Switzerland took over the rotating chairmanship of the 31-member inter-governmental group on March 7 from Romania.

The app, called Fliehen vor dem Holocaust, or Escaping the Holocaust, allows users to learn about the fate of four individuals using multimedia tools.

Educators must take on “the challenge of virtual reality” so youth will grasp that “we are speaking about people,” not merely about numbers, Benno Bättig, secretary-general of Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, said in a ceremony at the Swiss embassy in Berlin.

Founded in 1998, the alliance aims to unite political and social leaders behind the need for Holocaust education, remembrance and research.

Bomb scare suspect denounced threats against JCCs on Twitter

The St. Louis man suspected of making at least eight of the more than 100 hoax bomb threats against Jewish institutions across the US, as part of a bizarre cyber-stalking campaign to harass an ex-partner according to federal officials, tweeted on a number of occasions against the wave of bomb threats and acts of vandalism and desecration at Jewish cemeteries in recent weeks.

Juan Thompson, 31, a former journalist fired for fabricating sources and quotes, was arrested in St. Louis and appeared there in federal court Friday on a cyber-stalking charge. He politely answered questions and told the judge he had enough money to hire a lawyer. A crowd of supporters who attended would say only that Thompson had no criminal record. His lawyer didn’t comment.

Federal officials have been investigating 122 bomb threats called in to Jewish organizations in three dozen states since January 9 as well as a rash of vandalism at Jewish cemeteries, including in St. Louis, Missouri, Philadelphia and Rochester, New York.

On Monday, as the fifth wave of threats hit Jewish institutions across the US with 28 hoax bomb threats called in to Jewish Community Centers (JCCs) and Jewish day schools, Thompson tweeted: “Another week, another round of threats against Jewish ppl. In the middle of the day, you know who’s at a JCC? Kids. KIDS.”

Another week, another round of threats against Jewish ppl. In the middle of the day, you know who’s at a JCC? Kids. KIDS.

Later that day, he retweeted a tweet from the left-wing Jewish Voice for Peace organization which read: “Reports of bomb threats at JCCs & Jewish schools, and another Jewish cemetery desecrated in Philadelphia. Sending love to our community.”

A day earlier, Thompson had tweeted about the vandalism at the Mount Carmel Jewish Cemetery in Philadelphia where at least 100 headstones were toppled, posting: “And ppl says Jews don’t face bigotry and violence. How would you feel if nasty white ppl destroyed MLK’s gravesite? #philadelphia“.

And ppl says Jews don’t face bigotry and violence. How would you feel if nasty white ppl destroyed MLK’s gravesite?

Federal authorities say Thompson started making his own threats on January 28 with an email to the Jewish History Museum in New York City written from an account that made it appear as if it was being sent by an ex-girlfriend.

“Juan Thompson put 2 bombs in the History Museum set to go off Sunday,” it said.

He followed that up with similar messages to a Jewish school in Farmington Hills, Michigan, and to a school and community center in Manhattan, authorities said.

In another round of emails and phone calls, he gave the woman’s name, rather than his own, the court complaint said. The Council on American-Islamic Relations received an anonymous email saying the woman put a bomb in a Dallas Jewish center.

Thompson appears to have first tweeted about his alleged involvement in an FBI investigation on February 10, telling followers that the “FBI is coming to interview me for some tweets,” followed by a post that read:
“Can’t get over it: A white woman I used to date and love told the FBI that I hated white ppl and wanted to bomb them. Wow.”

Two weeks later, he wrote: “Know any good lawyers? Need to stop this nasty/racist #whitegirl I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.”

Know any good lawyers? Need to stop this nasty/racist I dated who sent a bomb threat in my name & wants me to be raped in jail.

He later tweeted at the Secret Service, telling the agency that he “will not be silenced” and alleging that the ex-girlfriend, which he names as Francesca, is “unstable and violent.”

After news of his arrest was revealed on Friday, a reporter at an alternative weekly in St. Louis said he was subjected to social media harassment after writing about Thompson’s firing from a news site for fabricating stories.

The Riverfront Times reporter Doyle Murphy said Thompson set up anonymous accounts on Twitter and other social media posing as a woman who claimed she had been sexually assaulted by Murphy. Murphy says he contacted Twitter but every time one fake account was taken down a new one popped up. He called the harassment a “nightmare.”

Thompson appears to tweet daily, often railing against “white people” and the “white liberal DC/NY media elite,” sparring with supporters of US President Donald and tweeting directly on a number of occasions at Trump himself.

He worked at the New York-based The Intercept from November 2014 to January 2016.

Law Enforcement Using Facebook and Apple to Data-Mine Accounts of Trump Protest Arrestees

Law enforcement is compelling Apple and Facebook to hand over the personal information of users who were mass arrested at protests against the inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, D.C., AlterNet has confirmed. The tech giants appear to be complying with the data-mining requests, amid mounting concerns over the heavy-handed crackdown against the more than 200 people detained on January 20, among them journalists, legal observers and medics.

“This is part of an increasing trend of law enforcement attempting to turn the internet, instead of technology for freedom, into technology for control,” Evan Greer, the campaign director for Fight for the Future, told AlterNet. “This trend started long before Trump and seems to be escalating and growing in scale now.”

More than 200 of those picked up in the sweep at the anti-fascist, anti-capitalist bloc have been hit with felony riot charges, which carry penalties of up to ten years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Because the arrests took place in Washington, D.C., the cases are being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, which is directly accountable to the Department of Justice, now overseen by the notorious white supremacist Jeff Sessions.

Mark Goldstone, a National Lawyers Guild-affiliated attorney who is representing numerous defendants in the case, told AlterNet that “several” of his clients have been contacted by Facebook and Apple and informed that their personal information has been requested by law enforcement.

AlterNet viewed a “customer notice” email sent on February 14 by Apple to one of the defendants, who requested anonymity due to the ongoing charges. “On 2017-01-27, Apple Inc. (‘Apple’) received a legal request from United States Attorney’s Office requesting information regarding your Apple account,” the message states.

The communication states that “Apple will be producing the requested data in a timely manner as required by the legal process.”

The individual who received the notice told AlterNet, “My phone wasn’t present at time of arrest and wasn’t taken.” That individual does not know whether the data has been handed over to prosecutors.

“I wasn’t surprised by it, but it was also very unsettling and made me feel very vulnerable and exposed,” the individual said. “That some federal grunt could be looking through old texts, personal stuff and selfies. This is exposing and gross and creepy.”

Goldstone emphasized, “It’s an outrageous overreach by the government to try to data-mine personal property that wasn’t even seized at the demonstration. This will be fought vigorously.”

AlterNet also viewed a statement sent from Facebook on February 3 to an anonymous defendant. “We have received legal process from law enforcement seeking information about your Facebook account,” states the email, sent from the company’s records office.

“If we do not receive a copy of documentation that you have filed in court challenging this legal process within ten (10) days, we will respond to the requesting agency with information about the requested Facebook account,” the letter continues. “We may need to respond to this legal request within less than ten (10) days if we have a reasonable belief that we are legally required to do so.”

Stephanie Lacambra, a criminal defense staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told AlterNet that, in addition to Facebook and Apple, Google has also been sent requests for information by law enforcement. None of the companies responded to a request for an interview.

‘What is the government doing with the data?’

It is not immediately clear what information law enforcement has requested and under what legal justification.

“The most invasive form of surveillance is a warrant. A judge could authorize police to look through every bite of data on someone’s Facebook account,” Michael Price, counsel for the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, told AlterNet. “A 2703(d) court order allows police to get metadata about communications, and that could possibly include location information about when communications took place and when a phone was connected to cell tower. A national security letter allows police to get that information but does not require a court order.”

According to Lacambra, law enforcement could be accessing “surface information like user names, the registration information that was collected and the metadata on the last time of login and duration of service.” Or, they could be searching “information stored in Apple iCloud, contacts, the content of emails, any number of photos that are stored there.”

“I don’t know the scope of information,” she said, “because I don’t know what legal instrument was used.”

Goldstone, the defense attorney, said he was not informed of what legal justification law enforcement invoked to seize the information. “No one has said or sent anything to me,” he explained.

The Metropolitan Police Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia both refused to comment, citing the pending investigation.

According to Price, “As a general matter, it is not uncommon for law enforcement to seek information from a third-party service provider like Apple or Facebook. It happens all the time.”

“One of my biggest concerns,” he said, “is that police will attempt to use electronic surveillance to get information about the people who were at the protest, in order to compile a list of the people who were present. Is that information going to be mined and used for other purposes? What is the government doing with the data? Are they going to store it? Are they going to send it to an intelligence analyst?”

Lacambra said the investigation raises disturbing questions. “Why is the Department of Justice trying to intrude into the digital lives of people exercising their rights to protest?” she asked. “Is this to intimidate, silence or threaten people for exercising their constitutional rights? When you arrest 230 people, some of whom are medics and legal observers, and try to systematically get to the content of their digital life, that is troubling.”

The anti-capitalist, anti-fascist bloc was part of a day of disruptive protests across Washington, D.C., and the world, to interrupt business as usual and register opposition to the rise of Donald Trump, whose cabinet has aggressively delivered on his white supremacist campaign pledges. Since Trump took the White House, millions have taken to the streets, flocked to airports and mobilized to defend their neighborhoods and communities against a multi-pronged assault.

‘People should be paying close attention’

Some of the arrestees were already suspicious that police had searched their phones, which were seized by police. Those phones are still being held as evidence, according to legal support volunteers.

AlterNet spoke with a journalist who was arrested on January 20 and requested anonymity. He sent AlterNet a screenshot of his Google account, which shows that while he was detained and his phone was in police custody, there was activity on his account. AlterNet confirmed that the login occurred while the phone was in police custody by viewing a property receipt issued to the journalist by the MPD. The journalist says his phone is password protected.

This mysterious account activity is similar to activity on the account of an unidentified medic, reported by George Joseph of CityLab. As in the case of the journalist, the medic spotted activity on his account while the phone was in police custody. Joseph notes that a screenshot of the activity “suggests that police began mining information from the captured cellphones almost immediately after the arrests.”

Goldstone, who has defended protesters in Washington, D.C., for more than 30 years, underscored that he has “never seen phones seized at protests, let alone phones that were not part of a protest.”

He also said that he has “never seen a felony riot charge in Washington, D.C., let alone more than 200 of them.” According to news reports, 214 people have been indicted for these charges so far, indicating that the prosecution plans to move forward with the bulk of the charges.

“We’re in a dangerous new world,” he declared.

Those arrested in the sweep already reported heavy violence at the hands of the MPD, which is overseen by Chief Peter Newsham, who has a troubling history of kettling and mass arresting people in the proximity of protests.

On January 20, Washington, D.C.-based lawyer Jeffrey Light filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of those detained charging that “Without warning and without any dispersal order, the police officers kettled all of the plaintiffs.” The lawsuit states, “Defendants John Doe MPD Officers and/or John Doe Park Police Officers deployed a large amount of chemical irritants against the plaintiffs, as well as struck multiple plaintiffs with their batons, and deployed flash-bang grenades.”

The anonymous journalist told AlterNet that, while covering the protests, he was sprayed in the face with what he believes was OC gas. “Two flash-bang grenades fell within three or four feet of me. I had tinnitus in my ears for a couple of minutes. I yelled out for a medic, and by the time I could see, we were completely kettled. I was incapacitated. I had a press badge and tried to tell them I was press.”

AlterNet spoke with one anonymous arrestee who said that, at the police academy where arrestees were taken for processing, he received a “two-knuckle-deep cavity search.” He noted, “I didn’t see any reason for it.”

According to Greer, the police crackdown is “unquestionably an attempt to silence dissent, frighten people and keep them off of the streets. But I wouldn’t call it new. Anyone who has been involved in activist movements for more than a few years has seen this before.”

In recent weeks, Republican lawmakers across the country have introduced state-level bills aimed at criminalizing protests. One piece of proposed legislation in Washington state calls for certain acts of civil disobedience to be classified as “economic terrorism.” North Dakota lawmakers introduced a bill that would make it lawful for motorists to hit and kill protesters staging acts of civil disobedience obstructing highways, as long as the cause is “negligence.” The legislation is clearly aimed at the Black Lives Matter movement, which has staged acts of civil disobedience across the country.

Meanwhile, police departments have long been building up their capacity for surveillance. A 10-month investigation by CityLabs.com, a project of The Atlantic, revealed earlier this month that “major police departments around the country are spending millions on cellphone spy tools that can be used to build up massive surveillance databases—with few rules about what happens to the data they capture.” According to the investigation, most of the major police departments in the United States have either cell phone interception devices and/or “cell phone extraction devices, used to crack open locked phones that are in police possession and scoop out all sorts of private communications and content.”

In light of this climate, the fact that tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook store large amounts of personal data is sparking concerns.

“Tech companies are building business models based on collecting large amounts of personal information and then failing to protect that information from the government and others who attempt to access it,” said Greer, who attended the January 20 protests in Washington, D.C. “People should be paying close attention and be concerned.”

Sarah Lazare is a staff writer for AlterNet. A former staff writer for Common Dreams, she coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.

YouTube will kill unskippable 30-second ads next year

Google has announced that in 2018, it will end non-skippable 30-second ads that appear before a YouTube video. In a statement first given to Campaign then confirmed by The Verge, a Google spokesperson said the company will focus on commercial formats that are more engaging for both advertisers and viewers.

We’re committed to providing a better ads experience for users online. As part of that, we’ve decided to stop supporting 30-second unskippable ads as of 2018 and focus instead on formats that work well for both users and advertisers,” Google said.

While this is good news, it doesn’t mean all unskippable ads are eventually going away. Formats that include 15- and 20-second ads will stick around; you’ll likely see more of the six-second “bumper ads” rather than ones that you can move past after five seconds. And again, the change is not expected to take place until at least 2018 so we still have many months to go.

Now if only it’ll also kill unskippable ads that appear in the middle of long videos. Sure, I’ll wait.

The Zuckerberg manifesto: How he plans to debug the world

NEW YORK (AP) — Mark Zuckerberg’s long-term vision for Facebook, laid out in a sweeping manifesto , sometimes sounds more like a utopian social guide than a business plan. Are we, he asks, “building the world we all want?”

While most people now use Facebook to connect with friends and family, Zuckerberg hopes that the social network can encourage more civic engagement, an informed public and community support in the years to come. Facebook now has nearly 2 billion members, which makes it larger than any nation in the world.

His 5,800-word essay positions Facebook in direct opposition to a rising tide of isolationism and fear of outsiders, both in the US and abroad. In a phone interview with The Associated Press, Zuckerberg stressed that he wasn’t motivated by the US election or any other particular event. Rather, he said, it’s the growing sentiment in many parts of the world that “connecting the world” — the founding idea behind Facebook — is no longer a good thing.

“Across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection,” Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in a Harvard dorm room in 2004, wrote on Thursday. “In times like these, the most important thing we at Facebook can do is develop the social infrastructure to give people the power to build a global community that works for all of us.”

Zuckerberg, 32, said he still strongly believes that more connectedness is the right direction for the world. But, he adds, it’s “not enough if it’s good for some people but it’s doesn’t work for other people. We really have to bring everyone along.”

This file photo taken on November 21, 2016, shows Facebook logos pictured on the screens of a smartphone (R), and a laptop computer, in central London. (AFP)

This file photo taken on November 21, 2016, shows Facebook logos pictured on the screens of a smartphone (R), and a laptop computer, in central London. (AFP)

It’s hardly a surprise that Zuckerberg wants to find ways to bring more people together, especially on Facebook. After all, getting more people to come together on the social network more frequently would give Facebook more opportunities to sell the ads that generate most of its revenue, which totaled $27 billion last year. And bringing in more money probably would boost Facebook’s stock price to make Zuckerberg — already worth an estimated $56 billion — even richer.

And while the idea of unifying the world is laudable, some critics — backed various studies — contend Facebook makes some people feel lonelier and more isolated as they scroll through the mostly ebullient posts and photos shared on the social network. Facebook’s famous “like” button also makes it easy to engage in a form of “one-click” communication that replaces meaningful dialogue.

Facebook also has been lambasted as polarizing force by circulating posts espousing similar viewpoints and interests among like-minded people, creating an “echo chamber” that can harden opinions and widen political and cultural chasms.

Today, most of Facebook’s 1.86 billion members — about 85 percent — live outside of the US and Canada. The Menlo Park, California-based company has offices everywhere from Amsterdam to Jakarta, Indonesia, to Tel Aviv, Israel. (It is banned in China, the world’s most populous country, though some people get around the ban.) Naturally, Zuckerberg takes a global view of Facebook and sees potential that goes beyond borders, cities and nations.

And that could allow the social network to step up as more traditional cultural ties fray. People already use Facebook to connect with strangers who have the same rare disease, to post political diatribes, to share news links (and sometimes fake news links ). Facebook has also pushed its users to register to vote, to donate to causes, to mark themselves safe after natural disasters, and to “go live .” For many, it’s become a utility. Some 1.23 billion people use it daily.

“For the past decade, Facebook has focused on connecting friends and families. With that foundation, our next focus will be developing the social infrastructure for community — for supporting us, for keeping us safe, for informing us, for civic engagement, and for inclusion of all,” he wrote.

Zuckerberg has gotten Facebook to this position of global dominance — one that Myspace and Twitter, for instance, never even approached — partly thanks to his audacious, long-term view of the company and its place in the world.

Last fall, Zuckerberg and his wife, the doctor Priscilla Chan, unveiled the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative , a long-term effort aimed at eradicating all disease by the end of this century. Then, as now, Zuckerberg preferred to look far down the road to the potential of scientific and technological innovations that have not been perfected, or even invented yet. This includes artificial intelligence.

“Looking ahead, one of our greatest opportunities to keep people safe is building artificial intelligence to understand more quickly and accurately what is happening across our community,” he wrote.

Speaking to the AP, Zuckerberg said he understands that we might not “solve all the issues that we want” in the short term.

“One of my favorite quotes is this Bill Gates quote, that ‘people overestimate what they can get done in two years and underestimate what they can get done in 10 years.’ And that’s an important mindset that I hope more people take today,” he said.

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