If you think SA’s government was alone in effectively putting itself up for rent to private interests, like those of the Gupta family, this week’s Facebook leaks should act as a tonic for any such naiveté. The fact is, large companies have been trying to compromise policymakers for years. In the US, it even has a quaintly polite name: lobbying. At home, we tend to refer to the practice, or at least the particular flavour of it brewed by a venal former president and his pastiche of cartoon villain sidekicks, as state capture. Now, this new insight into Facebook’s practices stems from documents filed in a California court in response to a 2017 case against Facebook by app developer Six4Three — first reported by Computer Weekly and the British newspaper The Guardian, with investigative journalist Duncan Campbell. The e-mails reveal Facebook’s sprawling lobbying operation across the world — including the UK, India, the US, Brazil and Europe. While the original documents, seen by the FM,...

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