The left-leaning Daily Beast website left no stone unturned in compromising the identity of a Trump supporter for having the audacity to mock Democrat speaker of the house Nancy Pelosi—and Facebook had a hand in exposing his private activities to the outlet.
Earlier this week, the Beast’s Nick Poulsen bragged that he “went looking for the Russian troll behind the ‘Drunk Pelosi’ viral video hoax”.
“I went looking for the Russian troll behind the ‘Drunk Pelosi’ viral video hoax. Turns out he’s an itinerant forklift operator from the Bronx…”
The Beast described the man—who is decidedly not a “Russian troll”—as secretly running hard-right ‘news’ outlets across social media for years.”
“Also, not Russian,” remarked the reporter, who further credited Facebook itself for helping him identify Shawn Brooks in his article, “We Found the Guy Behind the Viral ‘Drunk Pelosi’ Video.”
The Daily Beast reporter credits Facebook for giving him information on Brooks, whose video remains active on the platform as it was not in violation of the company’s terms of service.
It’s conceivable that someone else actually edited the clip. But a Facebook official, confirming a Daily Beast investigation, said the video was first posted on Politics WatchDog directly from Brooks’ personal Facebook account.
Assuming The Daily Beast didn’t embellish the details, Facebook is responsible for exposing Brooks’ information by providing details of his private activities to a journalist.
Liberal commentator Caroline Orr was among the earliest voices to sound the alarm over Facebook’s hand in the situation. In a series of tweets, Orr condemned the company for using its internal data to dox Brooks.
So … it appears that Facebook helped the reporter who wrote this story identify the person behind the doctored video of Nancy Pelosi — i.e., Facebook used its own internal data to help publicly identify a private citizen.
That’s extremely troubling. 1/ https://t.co/DEXXL8C4uj
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) June 2, 2019
“It’s disgusting that this guy manipulated a video of Nancy Pelosi to make her look drunk and confused,” she wrote. “But it’s beyond disturbing that Facebook revealed supposedly private data to a reporter to help him publicly ID a private citizen.”
“The guy didn’t break any laws. He didn’t even violate any of Facebook’s policies, according to the company. The doctored video is still up! In Facebook’s eyes, this guy did nothing wrong — yet they just handed over his private data to a reporter. How is that justifiable?”
“I hope I’m interpreting this wrong. But the way I’m reading it, Facebook was willing to give info on a personal account’s activity to confirm that person’s identity to a reporter.
“And if that’s what happened, that’s extremely troubling,” Orr concluded.
It wouldn’t be the first time that Facebook is facing scrutiny for breaching the privacy of its users in the wake of the 2018 Cambridge Analytica scandal, during which up to 87 million users had their personal information improperly accessed by third parties.
In a pretrial to dismiss a lawsuit stemming from the scandal, Facebook counsel Orin Snyder reportedly argued that there is no expectation of privacy on social media.
“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy.”
“There is no invasion of privacy at all, because there is no privacy,” he reportedly said.
In spite of its legal arguments, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced a re-branding effort to promote the Silicon Valley company’s supposed commitment to privacy.
The Beast exposed a private citizen in the same manner as CNN’s KFILE threatened to do to a Trump supporter who made a wrestling GIF of President Donald Trump clotheslining another wrestler with the CNN logo superimposed onto him.
Although CNN’s KFILE never outed the individual, who was underage at the time, they threatened to do so unless given an apology. The incident, although widely mocked, set a terrible precedent for the aristocratic nature of mainstream media journalists in its twin phobias of criticism and mockery.
The Daily Beast’s political editor Sam Stein took umbrage from widespread criticism of the publication, defending the story as a means to show how “disinformation isn’t the purview of Russia alone.”
He argued that the Drunk Pelosi video, in and of itself, “has direct implications for legislative debates over the biggest social media company in the world,” as if satire of political figures hasn’t been the norm for millennia.
Other reporters from mainstream news weighed in to support The Daily Beast.
NBC News’ Ben Collins was among the first in line to suggest that a “fake” video like the one Shawn Brooks produced “needs to be reported,” arguing that the public “needs to see how easy it is for randos to pull it off, and therefore how second nature it’s become to hostile foreign countries with millions of dollars trying to influence politics.”
In response to these arguments, OANN host and Human Events contributor Jack Posobiec explained:
The far-left journobro know all Shawn Brooks did was post a Pelosi meme
This isn’t some massive disinformation conspiracy
But they see him as a peasant attacking one of the anointed class
As so they lash out to defend their oligarchy
— Jack Posobiec 🇺🇸 (@JackPosobiec) June 2, 2019
Ian Miles Cheong is the managing editor of Human Events