Facebook’s role in the 2016 election—false accounts staffed by an army of Russian trolls, carefully targeted distribution of anti-Hillary ads, propaganda delivery networks delivered to voters in critical swing districts—was certainly impactful, and possibly even decisive. Which makes it particularly interesting that former Trump adviser Steve Bannon had a scheme to infiltrate the social media company with a Breitbart-friendly agent.
Steve Bannon plotted to plant a mole inside Facebook, according to emails sent days before the Breitbart boss took over Donald Trump’s campaign and obtained by BuzzFeed News.
Buzzfeed documents a series of exchanges between Bannon, Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, and Family Research Council official Chris Gacek. Gacek noted that there was an opening at Facebook, and Yiannopoulos suggested that Breitbart ‘flood the zone’ with candidates who would report back to Bannon. Bannon approved the plan, after which Yiannopoulos went forward with a series of candidates. It’s a genuine, if relatively small, conspiracy among right-wing groups to secretly shape the news received by millions of Americans and put Facebook’s tools in the service of Bannon.
Breitbart has run numerous stories claiming that Facebook has a liberal bias in both hiring and the way it filters news stories delivered on the site, though the evidence of this leftward lean is as lacking as the idea that the IRS selectively targeted conservative groups. But Breitbart has a proposed solution to tackle his online competitors.
Earlier this month, the former White House Chief Strategist told an audience in Hong Kong that he was leading efforts to regulate Facebook and Google as “public utilities.”
This, of course, comes from someone who both objects to the idea of regulating internet providers as utilities, and is against the equal-time rule for broadcast news sources.