The old days of duping the populace at gunpoint are over, as yet another country has blamed Facebook for subverting their democracy.
Once upon a time, the only thing you needed to subvert an election was a Kalashnikov and a credo that sounded more convincing the louder you yelled it. However, the golden age of the coup is truly behind us, as even those who have the murkiest history of violent subversions now bow to an even greater master: the Facebook Like.
I won’t expressly say who I’m referencing, because I fear my levity would cheapen the death of many, but it rhymes with Blergh Blouge. Moving on. Very recently, the leader of the Cambodian opposition government sensationally traveled to California to take umbrage with Facebook and Zuckerberg’s cabal, claiming that Hun Sen, the Cambodian Prime Minister, has far too many Likes on his anti-opposition dank memes, and it’s totes suspicious, hey.
The whole thing rebirths the debate over Facebook’s power to undermine democracies. You know, the whole Russiagate thing. The person who brought the gripe to the Cali court, Sam Rainsy, claims that Hun Sen, the prime minister, “has used the network to threaten violence against political opponents and dissidents, disseminate false information and manipulate his (and the regime’s) supposed popularity, thus seeking to foster an illusion of popular legitimacy.”
Rainsy alleges that Hun had used “click farms” to artificially boost his popularity, effectively raising the thumb of the populace via the Facebook Like. The petition says that Hun had achieved astonishing Facebook fame in a very short time, raising questions about whether this popularity was legitimate.
Duping the masses through less-than-honest memes/means is as old as the First Crusade. War has and will always change, even if its current face wears that of a shapeless Californian company.
For instance, the petition says, Hun Sen’s page is “Liked” by 9.4 million people “even though only 4.8 million Cambodians use Facebook,” and that millions of these “Likes” emanate from countries that don’t speak Khmer, therefore, these Likes were harvested in click farms.
In common parlance, it’s all just a popularity contest with you kids, isn’t it?
According to the information the petition refers to, the Cambodian government’s payments to Facebook totaled $15,000 a day “in generating fake ‘Likes’ and advertising on the network to help dissiminate[sic] the regime’s propaganda and drown-out any competing voices.”
Which is a move that should be feared as much as it should be appreciated on an objective level. The duping of the masses through less-than-honest memes/means is something as old as the First Crusade. All this represents is the next proud step of a genuinely questionable beast. War has and will always change, even if its current face wears that of a shapeless Californian company.