The collapse of the former Soviet Union, which for some reason Ronald Reagan claimed credit, was to many Russians apocalyptic. Current President Vladimir Putin called the dissolution of the communist empire "the greatest geopolitical disaster of the century." He has spent the subsequent years tirelessly working to rebuild the once formidable system of equality and balance, for the people. As one example, Putin used the powerful energy concern Gazprom and Russia's virtual monopoly on natural gas in the region to influence favorable foreign policy. This pressure successfully forced neighbors to abandon their silly, misguided designs on democracy -- a failed, decadent western phenomenon. And in Georgia, where the level of defiance threatened to destroy the equilibrium and security of other Russian states, Putin dispatched a fleet of peacekeeping tanks to help restore order to the confused rebels.
"But with the fall of critical communication services such as Pravda and Tass, and with the demolition of the People's Ministry of Information, our ability to provide for our citizens has nearly been destroyed," Medvedev lamented. "We have no idea what they're up to or how they might be struggling. During the Soviet period, everybody had jobs, homes and food on the tables. We were a culture of love; we were all comrades, brothers, sisters -- because the People's Government knew what all the people were doing and thinking and wanting. We could prevent social problems before they happened. Now, our tranquility has been replaced by an isolated, selfish free-for-all."
The paradigm shift also hobbled the economy.
"We had an agency called Glavit," Medvedev continued. "It was instrumental in protecting people from the offensive filth that sometimes makes its way into broadcasts. Glavit kept the people happy. That organization also employed over 70,000 comrades. When the 'wall came down,' all those people lost their livelihoods. We deal with unemployment now. That never happened before the 1980s. Facebook could save us."
By sponsoring a massive rollout of Facebook across Russia, government officials hope to revive the stability, prosperity and social welfare programs that helped identify potential threats to the quality of life for each citizen, thereby enabling authorities to step in and correct troubles before detrimental escalation.
Medvedev expressed confidence in Facebook's nationwide deployment as "a boon to economic and personal growth for the families of Russia."
Without modification, Facebook's native functionality provides the Russian government -- in a matter of minutes -- more information about each of the country's citizens than could ever be mined over a period of months using traditional resources. And because users eagerly divulge their most intimate details voluntarily, Medvedev believes this kinder, friendlier format will allow Russia's Information Extraction for the Benefit and the Peace of the People Collective to shed its past image as a strong-armed, merciless, prying overlord.
The Facebook initiative could also create millions of new jobs.
"With the vast amounts of data coming through Facebook profiles in mere seconds, we will need millions of analysts to join the Information Extraction for the Benefit and the Peace of the People Collective to help process all the user information," said Communication Minister Nikolai Nikoforov. "It's a good problem to have."
Zuckerberg's contributions are viewed as so vital to the evolution of the Russian economy that both Medvedev and Nikoforov endured hours of "get moose and squirrel" jokes from the world's youngest billionaire.
Back in the United States, though, news of Zuckerberg's potential involvement with Russia sparked worry among U.S. security agencies. Officials have already presented President Obama with studies warning of a "social network gap." The issue is particularly sensitive in light of the botched fusion centers project launched in 2003.
Fusion centers were part of a federal domestic security program marketed as helping state and local law enforcement apprehend terrorists through a network of 70 information-sharing sites around the country. However, a newly released Senate subcommittee report found that fusion centers threatened civil liberties while doing nothing to combat terrorism.
"Fusion centers were a good idea in theory but not practice," DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano admitted. "Having telecom providers tap customers' smart phones to help us conduct our warrantless wiretaps did not meet with widespread public approval. Quite the opposite -- a lot of outrage and lawsuits. But Facebook, as a government tool, would remedy that. People can't wait to post all their sensitive data on Facebook. With the failure of the fusion centers, we need to start taking Zuckerberg more seriously than his investors do. Something like this could ignite another Cold War with America on the losing end. No one's taking down our wall, and we will not suffer a social media gap."
(c) 2012. See disclaimers.