Blog Archives

When Are We Going to Tackle the For-Profit Monopolies Which Censored RussiaGate Skeptics?

The RussiaGate Narrative has been revealed as a Big Con (a.k.a. Nothing-Burger), but what’s dangerously real is the censorship that’s being carried out by the for-profit monopolies Facebook and Google on behalf of the status quo’s Big Con.

This site got a taste of Facebook-Google-Big-Media’s Orwellian Authoritarian-Totalitarian censorship back in 2016 when a shadowy fake-news site called PropOrNot aggregated every major alt-media site that had published anything remotely skeptical of the coronation of Hillary Clinton as president and labeled us all shills for Russian propaganda.

Without any investigation of the perps running the site or their fake-news methodology, The Washington Post (Jeff Bezos’ plaything) saw fit to promote the fake-news on Page One as if it were journalistically legitimate. Why would a newspaper that supposedly values the integrity of its content run with such shameless fake-news propaganda? Because it fit the Post’s own political agenda and biases.

This is the essence of Facebook-Google-Big-Media’s Orwellian Authoritarian-Totalitarian censorship: sacrifice accepted journalistic practice, free speech and transparency to promote an absurdly obvious political and social agenda.

If there was any real justice in America, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai should be wearing prison jumpsuits for what Facebook and Google have done to American democracy. Both of these monopolies have manipulated news feeds, search results and what individuals are shown in complete secret, with zero public oversight or transparency.

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So If Half of Facebook Accounts Are Fake… What Is Facebook Worth?

How many accounts on Facebook are fake? Recent estimates of half could be low. Here’s an experiment: open a Facebook account with a name that cannot possibly be anyone else’s real name, for example, Johns XQR Citizenry. Solicit a few real people to friend you, start posting something original every day and see what happens.

Eventually, your friends will inform you that “Johns XQR Citizenry” solicited them to friend him, even though they’re already friends with you. Congratulations, your Facebook identity has been cloned.

When you do a search, you find a half-dozen “Johns XQR Citizenry,” and every one of these cloned accounts is completely empty: no photo, no content. They were obviously set up for the sole purpose of cloning your identity to propagate spam to your friends list and then their friends’ lists.

So you flag the clone accounts as per Facebook’s instructions, and the (automated) response comes back “the account you flagged does not violate our community standards.” So in other words, cloning identities on Facebook is just fine.

Next, you try to find some way to report the cloning to Facebook–there’s isn’t any way.

How difficult would it be for Facebook’s vaunted AI screens to identify cloned accounts? Same name, empty account, delete, block the IP. How hard is that?

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Want to Heal the Internet? Ban All Collection of User Data

I’ve been commenting on the cancerous disease that’s taken control of the Internet– what Shoshana Zuboff calls Surveillance Capitalism–for many years. Here is a selection of my commentaries:

800 Million Channels of Me (February 21, 2011)

The New Facebook Buttons: Promote, Despise, Abandon (November 1, 2012)

How Much of our Discord Is the Result of the “Engagement” Advert Revenue Model of Social Media? (October 24, 2017)

Are Facebook and Google the New Colonial Powers? (September 18, 2017)

Hey Advertisers: The Data-Mining Emperor Has No Clothes (September 15, 2017)

The Demise of Dissent: Why the Web Is Becoming Homogenized (November 17, 2017)

Should Facebook, Google and Twitter Be Public Utilities? (March 5, 2018)

Should Facebook and Google Pay Users When They Sell Data Collected from Users?(March 22, 2018)

The Blowback Against Facebook, Google and Amazon Is Just Beginning (April 27, 2018)

How Far Down the Big Data/’Psychographic Microtargeting’ Rabbit Hole Do You Want to Go? (April 25, 2018)

If you’ve followed any of my analyses, it will come as no surprise that I’ve concluded the only way to restore the health of the Internet is to ban all collection of user data. That’s right, a 100% total ban on collecting any user data whatsoever.

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Hell Hath No Fury Like a Liberal Scorned: The Media Turns on Facebook and Google

Of the many remarkable trend changes of the past year, few are more striking than the fawning embrace of Facebook et al. by Big Media turning to an enraged sense of betrayal. Facebook and Google–by their own self-definitions, shining beacons of liberalism and goodness (we’re not evil, we’re fantabulous!)– were viewed by the famously liberal Big Media as allies in the fight against Trump, illiberalism, populism, deglobalization, etc.

Now, to their horror, Big Media has discovered that not only did their Big Tech sweethearts betray their affection and trust, they’re just another bunch of predatory profit-maximizing monopolies who will stab anyone and everyone in the back who gets in their way to higher profits and more power.

It would be sad if it wasn’t so pathetic. Poor Big Media, so anxious to be hip and with it, so anxious to impress social media while trying to exploit its reach to prop up their own dying business model. Big Media, so easily seduced by Big Tech: we’re liberal, too, and together we’ll lead the world out of darkness into light, blah blah blah.

Then Big Media discovered its virtue-signaling liberal sweetheart, Big Tech, is just as threatened by liberals as by conservatives, and it turns its firepower on liberals with the same savage abandon as it does on independent and conservative media.

The bitter rage of the previously besotted and now betrayed suitor is evident in these recent articles in The Atlantic, New York Times and Washington Post, all bastions of virtue-signaling self-righteous defense of the state-cartel Empire, a.k.a. liberalism.

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The Imperial Naivete of the American Public

Whether it’s stated or not, one source of the inchoate outrage triggered by Russian-sourced purchases of adverts on Facebook in 2016 (i.e. “meddling in our election”) is the sense that the U.S. is sacrosanct due to our innate moral goodness and our Imperial Project: never mind that the intelligence agencies of all great powers (including the U.S.) meddle in the domestic affairs and elections of other nations, including those of allies as well as geopolitical rivals– no other great power should ever meddle with U.S. domestic affairs and elections.

In effect, meddling in the domestic affairs and elections of other nations is the raison d’etre of all great power intelligence agencies:

It’s Time for a Little Perspective on Russia (Current Affairs)

Our outrage is based on Imperial Naivete: the naivete of a public lulled into a warm and fuzzy sense of moral superiority based on the notion that we only go to war to save the good and punish the evil, and if we meddle in other nations’ domestic affairs and elections, we’re only doing so for their own good.

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The Blowback Against Facebook, Google and Amazon Is Just Beginning

Blow-out earnings from Facebook and Amazon have cheered Wall Street, but institutional owners might want to focus not just on blow-out earnings but rising blowback against the tech superpowers (Facebook, Google and Amazon).

The blowback is social and political: people are starting to question the social and political costs of these tech darlings’ dominance and the billions in profits they reap.

The typical corporation can buy political influence, but Facebook and Google are manipulating the machinery of democracy itself. That’s a much more dangerous type of power than buying political influence or manipulating public opinion by openly publishing biased “news.”

We all understand how Corporate Media undermines democracy: recall how every time Bernie Sanders won a Democratic primary in 2016, The New York Times and The Washington Post “reported” the news in small typeface in a sidebar, while every Hillary Clinton primary win was trumpeted in large headlines at the top of page one.

But this sort of manipulation is visible; what Google and Facebook do is invisible. I recently addressed these invisible (but oh-so profitable) mechanisms in a series of essays:

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How Far Down the Big Data/’Psychographic Microtargeting’ Rabbit Hole Do You Want to Go?

Maybe you’ve seen a notice like this when you log into your Facebook account: did you read it carefully? Please read the one I received:

Protecting Your Information
We understand the importance of keeping your data safe, because we sell it for billions of dollars to anyone with cash. We are making it easier for you to believe that you control which apps you share information with.

You can go to the Apps and Websites section of your settings anytime to see the apps and websites you’ve used Facebook to log into. You can also remove the ones you don’t want connected to Facebook anymore. None of this makes any difference in how much data we collect about you, but we understand it makes you feel better to maintain the illusion of control.

Wait a minute–you didn’t get the same notice that I did? What’s going on here? You mean Facebook, Google, et al. can tailor not just adverts and content to each user, but the messages they feed us?

Welcome to the wonderful world of ‘Psychographic Microtargeting’ in which buyers of data harvested by Facebook et al. tailor the “product” being delivered– marketing, political campaigning, narratives, etc.– to individuals based on a Big Data/AI analysis of the data collected on the individual and tens of millions of other users.

Here is GFB’s exploration of this rabbit hole:

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Connecting the Dots of Big Data, Soaring Corporate Profits and Trade Wars

Let’s connect the dots between these two comments from longtime correspondents: the first is on the model of collecting and selling data (Big Data), and the second on trade:

GFB:

“If I had a lot of money, would I want to do:

A) –invest in the exploration forbidding areas of the globe for oil reserves with a 50/50 chance of no results
–negotiate leases for the areas of the planet I want to extract oil in and have to negotiate with corrupt and unstable governments
–Pay for the oil extracting and transportation infrastructure
–deal with the fluctuating market values – which may make my whole investment worthless

OR

B) set up a low cost trap that has millions of people handing me for free, and with their acknowledged permission, their preferences, tastes, beliefs, and aspirations . . . which I can re-sell at almost no cost to a long list of buyers, with a price that I can set as I have the data.

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Should Facebook and Google Pay Users When They Sell Data Collected from Users?

It’s not exactly news that Facebook, Google and other “free” services reap billions of dollars in profits by selling data mined/collected from their millions of users. As we know, If you’re not paying for it, you’re not the customer; you’re the product being sold, also phrased as if the service is free, you are the product.

Correspondent GFB recently asked, why aren’t Facebook et al. sharing a slice of the profits reaped from users’ data with the users who create the data?Given the enormous data processing capabilities of these tech giants, it’s certainly not a technical issue to credit each user a micro-payment when the data they create and thus “own” (since the creator of any digital product is by rights the owner of that product, including data sold to marketers) is sold.

Is the presumption that the collector of users’ data “own” that data via the collection process false, legally and ethically? Teams of attorneys may well be employed to support this claim on legal grounds, but what about the ethics of this data-mining of the many to profit the few with the means to collect and sell the data harvested from users?

Now that the ethical foundation of all these tech giants has been revealed to be nothing but shifting sand, it’s a line of inquiry worth pursuing. In some ways it parallels the situation in biomedicine: if a private-sector corporation harvests a particular genetic variation from an individual, do they “own” the variation because they detected it, or does the individual whose tissue/blood was harvested retain some ownership?

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Is Profit-Maximizing Data-Mining Undermining Democracy?

As many of you know, oftwominds.com was falsely labeled propaganda by the propaganda operation known as ProporNot back in 2016. The Washington Post saw fit to promote ProporNot’s propaganda operation because it aligned with the newspaper’s view that any site that wasn’t pro-status quo was propaganda; the possibility of reasoned dissent has vanished into a void of warring accusations of propaganda and “fake news” –which is of course propaganda in action.

Now we discover that profit-maximizing data-mining (i.e. Facebook and Google) can–gasp–be used for selling ideologies, narratives and candidates just like dog food and laundry detergent. The more extreme and fixed the views and the closer the groups are in size (i.e. the closer any electoral contest), the more profitable the corporate data-mining becomes.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the data-mining gets all the important stuff wrong. As correspondent GFB explains, oftwominds.com was identified as “propaganda” by data-mining, which concluded that any site that posted content that wasn’t pro-Hillary was automatically propaganda:

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Should Facebook, Google and Twitter Be Public Utilities?

My longtime friend GFB recently suggested I revisit my position on RussiaGate, the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US election.

I have been dismissive of the investigation because the idea that a pinprick of Facebook advertising ($100,000) could influence the sprawling ocean of public opinion struck me as preposterous.

But GFB suggested I look a bit deeper and consider the consequences of the Russian interference, however modest it might have been; and I have taken his sage advice and reconsidered.

I’ve reached the conclusion that Facebook, Google and Twitter should be operated as public utilities, not as for-profit corporations beholden solely to their shareholders and managers.

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Addictions: Social Media & Mobile Phones Fall From Grace

For everyone who remembers the Early Days of social media and mobile phones, it’s been quite a ride from My Space and awkward texting on tiny screens to the current alarm over the addictive nature of social media and mobile telephony.

The emergence of withering criticism of Facebook and Google is a new and remarkably broad-based phenomenon: a year or two ago, there was little mainstream-media criticism of these tech giants; now there is a constant barrage of sharp criticism across the media spectrum.

Even the technology writer for the Wall Street Journal has not just curbed his enthusiasm, he’s now speaking in the same dark tones as other critics: Why Personal Tech Is Depressing.

The critique of social media and mobile telephony, has reached surprising heights in a remarkably short time. Consider this article from the Guardian (UK) which compares Facebook and Google’s social media empire to world religions in terms of scale, and unabashedly calls them addictive and detrimental to health and democracy: How Facebook and Google threaten public health – and democracy.

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