Lost in Face
In the space of the week the dominant public narrative has been forced to endure two major paradigm shifts. The first was the collapse of the Trump as a Russian stooge theme. The second was the surprise loss of confidence in the integrity of social media.
The Trump as Putin's lapdog meme took two major body blows: China's announcement that Pyongyang was pledged to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and the grudging admission the current US administration has taken a harder stance against Vladimir Putin than the previous administration ever dared. As Phil Stewart and Matt Spetalnick of Reuters wrote:
America's most sweeping expulsion of Russian diplomats since the Cold War may have seemed like a dramatic escalation in Washington's response to Moscow, but the groundwork for a more confrontational U.S. posture had been taking shape for months -- in plain sight.While President Donald Trump's conciliatory rhetoric toward Moscow has dominated headlines, officials at the U.S. State Department, Pentagon and White House made a series of lower-profile decisions over the past year to counter Russia around the world - from Afghanistan to North Korea to Syria.
That was all before the United States said on Monday it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Kremlin for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain that they have blamed on Moscow.
These were developments are hard to reconcile with the idea of a Kremlin puppet in the White House. If this is what Putin wants then the crazy man is in Moscow and not Pennsylvania Avenue.
The other big story was the transformation of Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg from figures of myth to near hate objects almost overnight. "The world's biggest social network is at the center of an international scandal involving voter data, the 2016 US presidential election and Brexit," wrote CNET. "No, Facebook, It's Not OK to Track Users' Calls and Texts for Years Because They Let You Share Contacts," wrote Inc.
The social media giant seemed guilty of sins against both sides of the political aisle. "ICE Reportedly Uses Facebook Data to Track Suspected Illegal Immigrants," said Fortune. The Verge advised its readers on "how to stop Facebook from looking for you with face recognition." Perhaps the most worrisome blast of all was from the Prime Minister of the UK who told a Parliamentary Committee:
People do want to ensure their data is being used properly and that they can have confidence in the use being made of their data.
'I would hope Facebook and Cambridge Analytica will cooperate fully with the Information Commissioner.
'Mark Zuckerberg will decide for himself whether he wants to come before the committee.
'I hope Facebook will recognise why this is so significant to people and ensure that the committee is able to get the answers they want.'