Truthdig’s Robert Scheer: Facebook Helps “A Denial Of Basic Human Rights”

I’ve heard a few rants against Facebook and Google in my time, but listening to Truthdig’s Robert Scheer say on Friday that Facebook is involved with a “denial of basic human rights” was really a new over-the-top one.

Scheer is an old-school veteran journalist. He has several books to his credit, is a professor of journalism at the University of Southern California and editor-in-chief of the Truthdig web site, motto: “Drilling beneath the headlines.”

He was speaking on Left, Right & Center, a program on the well-known Southern California public radio station of KCRW. I happened to catch the show driving back from a long trip on Friday. The Facebook IPO came up, and Scheer didn’t hold back when asked what he thought about Facebook. His comments:

I don’t think Facebook is a positive development. It’s obviously something that people find useful and use, but what you’re selling is privacy to a degree which we never would have accepted before.

It’s is a total intrusion into what you buy, where you go, what you search, and then marketing to this invasion of privacy. It’s extremely dangerous, and to the degree that governments can get ahold of this information, it really is a denial of basic human rights.

But the real problem here is, as with Google, you’ve got these, they traffic in information, they traffic in news, they’re not really willing to pay for journalism, they’re not willing to pay for people who actually cover our society, and so they are in fact part of the destruction of what were traditional news organizations that happen to have advertising.


I could dissect many of these points, or at least add some much needed balance to them, but I’ve done these types of things many times before. If you really want to understand more, I’d suggest seeing these past posts from me:

There are some further ones below. I was more amazed how anyone equates people voluntarily using a service like Facebook with denial of serious human rights issues such as slavery or torture.

Curious, I searched Truthdig to see if Scheer’s site had written more about these problems. I found a recent article on Facebook’s IPO. Well, not an article but rather a short summary of news from the New York Times. Another post summarized an LA Times article about Facebook being more relevant than ever. Yet another summarized a San Francisco Chronicle article about Americans really liking Facebook.

So much for drilling beneath the headlines, I guess. So much for worrying about Google destroying journalism, I suppose, too. These posts which lack any original journalism carry Google ads. As for concerns about Facebook and human rights, apparently they don’t go to the degree of Truthdig not being on Facebook itself with nearly 20,000 fans.

There are, of course, issues with Google and journalism, Facebook and privacy, with how all types of companies gather and market private information. But they sure aren’t as black-and-white as I heard Scheer paint them in his short rant.

Related Articles

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Facebook: Privacy | Features & Analysis | Google: Critics | Legal: Privacy


About The Author: is Founding Editor of Marketing Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search marketing and internet marketing issues, who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

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  • Shaad Hamid

    Thank you Danny, for providing a balanced view of “Facebook marketing” and “Google/search engine marketing”. Too often, people tend to sensationalize stories in order to create a sense of fear in the minds of the unsuspecting user. There’s always two sides to the story. As an advertiser and as a regular FB user, I am grateful to targeted ads where I see only what’s relevant to me (be it geographically, demographically or even psychographically).

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