Softpanorama

Home Switchboard Unix Administration Red Hat TCP/IP Networks Neoliberalism Toxic Managers
May the source be with you, but remember the KISS principle ;-)
Skepticism and critical thinking is not panacea, but can help to understand the world better

Internet privacy bulletin, 2018

Home 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 1900

For the list of top articles see Recommended Links section


Top Visited
Switchboard
Latest
Past week
Past month

NEWS CONTENTS

Old News ;-)

[Dec 21, 2018] China national charged with stealing trade secrets by David Shepardson and Makini Brice

Dec 21, 2018 | finance.yahoo.com

The U.S. Justice Department said on Friday a Chinese national had been arrested for stealing trade secrets from a U.S.-based petroleum company, his employer, related to a product worth more than $1 billion.

The department alleged Hongjin Tan downloaded hundreds of files related to the manufacture of a "research and development downstream energy market product," which he planned to use to benefit a company in China that had offered him a job. He was arrested on Thursday in Oklahoma and will next appear in court on Wednesday, the department said.

Tan's LinkedIn page said he has worked as a staff scientist for Phillips 66 (PSX.N) in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, since May 2017.

Phillips 66 said in a statement it was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation in a probe involving a "former employee at our Bartlesville location," but declined to comment further.

An FBI affidavit said Phillips 66 called the agency last week to report the theft of trade secrets and Tan told a former co-worker he was leaving to return to China.

The FBI found on Tan's laptop an employment agreement from a Chinese company that has developed production lines for lithium ion battery materials.

Tan accessed files for marketing the trade secret "in cell phone and lithium-based battery systems," the FBI said. Phillips 66 said it has one of two refineries in the world that manufacture the unspecified product.

Tan was responsible for research and development of the U.S. company's battery programme and developing battery technologies using its proprietary processes. Phillips 66 told the FBI it had earned an estimated $1.4 billion to $1.8 billion from the unspecified technology.

[Dec 16, 2018] Writers Silenced by Surveillance Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data by Nik Williams

Notable quotes:
"... Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy ..."
"... In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. ..."
"... As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. ..."
"... In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". ..."
"... At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support. ..."
"... Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" ..."
"... we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye. ..."
"... And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? ..."
"... Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications. ..."
"... Weekly Standard ..."
"... The Great Gatsby ..."
Dec 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Writers Silenced by Surveillance: Self-Censorship in the Age of Big Data Posted on December 15, 2018 by Yves Smith Nik Williams, the policy advisor for Scottish PEN, the Scottish centre of PEN International. We are leading the campaign opposing suspicionless surveillance and protecting the rights of writers both in Scotland and across the globe. Find out more on Twitter at @scottishpen and @nikwilliams2 . Originally published at openDemocracy

We know what censorship looks like: writers being murdered, attacked or imprisoned; TV and radio stations being shut down; the only newspapers parrot the state; journalists lost in the bureaucratic labyrinth to secure a license or permit; government agencies approving which novels, plays and poetry collections can be published; books being banned or burned or the extreme regulation of access to printing materials or presses. All of these damage free expression, but they leave a fingerprint, something visible that can be measured, but what about self-censorship? This leaves no such mark.

When writers self-censor, there is no record, they just stop writing or avoid certain topics and these decisions are lost to time. Without being able to record and document isolated cases the way we can with explicit government censorship, the only thing we can do is identify potential drivers to self-censorship.

In 2013, NSA whistle blower, Edward Snowden revealed the extent of government surveillance that enables intelligence agencies to capture the data of internet users around the world. Some of the powers revealed enable agencies to access emails in transit, files held on devices, details that document our relationships and location in real-time and data that could reveal our political opinions, beliefs and routines. Following these revelations, the UK government pushed through the Investigatory Powers Act , an audacious act that modernised, consolidated and expanded digital surveillance powers. This expansion was opposed by civil rights organisations, (including Scottish PEN where I work), technologists, a number of media bodies and major tech companies, but on 29th November 2016, it received royal assent.

But what did this expansion do to our right to free expression?

As big data and digital surveillance is interwoven into the fabric of modern society there is growing evidence that the perception of surveillance affects how different communities engage with the internet. Following the Snowden revelations, John Penny at the Oxford Internet Institute analysed traffic to Wikipedia pages on topics designated by the Department of Homeland Security as sensitive and identified "a 20 percent decline in page views on Wikipedia articles related to terrorism, including those that mentioned 'al Qaeda,' 'car bomb' or 'Taliban.'" This report was in line with a study by Alex Marthews and Catherine Tucker who found a similar trend in the avoidance of sensitive topics in Google search behaviour in 41 countries. This has significant impact on both free expression and democracy, as outlined by Penney: "If people are spooked or deterred from learning about important policy matters like terrorism and national security, this is a real threat to proper democratic debate."

But it doesn't end with sourcing information. In a study of Facebook, Elizabeth Stoycheff discovered that when faced with holders of majority opinions and the knowledge of government surveillance, holders of minority viewpoints are more likely to "self-censor their dissenting opinions online". If holders of minority opinions step away from online platforms like Facebook, these platforms will only reflect the majority opinion, homogenising discourse and giving a false idea of consensus. Read together, these studies document a slow erosion of the eco-system within which free expression flourishes.

In 2013, PEN America surveyed American writers to see whether the Snowden revelations impacted their willingness to explore challenging issues and continue to write. In their report, Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor , PEN America found that "one in six writers avoided writing or speaking on a topic they thought would subject them to surveillance". But is this bigger than the US? Scottish PEN, alongside researchers at the University of Strathclyde authored the report, Scottish Chilling: Impact of Government and Corporate Surveillance on Writers to explore the impact of surveillance on Scotland-based writers, asking the question: Is the perception of surveillance a driver to self-censorship? After surveying 118 writers, including novelists, poets, essayists, journalists, translators, editors and publishers, and interviewing a number of participants we uncovered a disturbing trend of writers avoiding certain topics in their work or research, modifying their work or refusing to use certain online tools. 22% of responders have avoided writing or speaking on a particular topic due to the perception of surveillance and 28% have curtailed or avoided activities on social media. Further to this, 82% said that if they knew that the UK government had collected data about their Internet activity they would feel as though their personal privacy had been violated, something made more likely by the passage of the investigatory Powers Act.

At times, surveillance appears unavoidable and this was evident in many of the writers' responses to whether they could take actions to mitigate the risks of surveillance. Without knowing how to secure themselves there are limited options: writers either resign themselves to using insecure tools or choose to avoid the internet all together, cutting them off from important sources of information and potential communities of readers and support.

Literacy concerning the use of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies (oftentimes called PETs) is a vital part of how we protect free expression in the digital age, but as outlined by the concerns of a number of the participants, it is largely under-explored outside of the tech community: "I think probably I need to get educated a wee bit more by someone because I think we probably are a bit exposed and a wee bit vulnerable, more than we realize." Another was even more stark about their worries about the available alternatives: "I have no idea about how to use the Internet 'differently'".

When interviewed, a number of writers expressed concerns about how their writing process has changed or is in danger of changing as a result of their awareness of surveillance. One participant who had covered the conflict in Northern Ireland in 70s and 80s stated that they would not cover the conflict in the same manner if it took place now; another stopped writing about child abuse when they thought about what their search history may look to someone else; when they heard of a conviction based on the ownership of the Anarchist Cookbook, a participant who bought a copy for research shredded it. Further to this a participant stated: "I think I would avoid direct research on issues to do with Islamic fundamentalism. I might work on aspects of the theory, but not on interviewing people in the past, I have interviewed people who would be called 'subversives'."

These modifications or avoidance strategies raise a stark and important question: What are we as readers being denied if writers are avoiding sensitive topics? Put another way, what connects the abuse of personal data by Cambridge Analytica, the treatment of asylum seekers by the Australian government on Manus and Nauru, the hiding of billions of pounds by wealthy individuals as revealed in the Panama and Paradise Papers, the deportation of members of the 'Windrush Generation' and the Watergate scandal? In each case, writers revealed to the world what others wanted hidden. Shadows appear less dense if writers are able to explore challenging issues and expose wrongdoing free from the coercive weight of pervasive surveillance. When writers are silenced, even by their own hand, we all suffer.

Surveillance is going nowhere – it is embedded into the fabric of the internet. If we ignore the impact it has on writers, we threaten the very foundations of democracy; a vibrant and cacophonous exchange of ideas and beliefs, alongside what it means to be a writer. In the words of one participant: "You can't exist as a writer if you're self-censoring."

Thuto , December 15, 2018 at 4:18 am

Thanks Yves, this is an important topic. Although not explicitly laid out in the post, I'm inclined to believe any online research on PETs might single one out as a "Person of Interest" (after all the state wants unfettered access to our digital lives and any attempt by individuals to curtail such access is viewed with suspicion, and maybe even a little contempt).

I trust the takeaway message from this post will resonate with any person who holds what might be considered "heretical" or dissenting views. I'd also argue that it's not just writers who are willingly submitting themselves to this self-censorship straitjacket, ordinary people are themselves sanitizing their views to avoid veering too far off the official line/established consensus on issues, lest they fall foul of the machinery of the security state.

norm de plume , December 15, 2018 at 10:31 pm

Yes – not just 'writers' as in 'those who write for a living or at least partly define themselves as writers in either a creative or an activist sense, or both' – but all of us who do not perceive ourselves as 'writers', only as people who in the course of their lives write a bit here and there, some of it on public platforms such as this, but much of it in emails and texts to friends and family. It wouldn't be quite so bad if the surveillance was only of the public stuff, but we know better now – EVERYTHING is recorded and archived. Privacy may not be dead yet, but now exists only in carefully curated offline pockets, away from not just the phone and the laptop, but also the smart fridge's and the face-recognising camera's gimlet eye.

Staying with the 'not just' for a moment – the threat is not just government security agencies and law enforcement, or indeed Surveillance Valley. It is clear that if egghead techs in those employments are able to crack our lives open then egghead techs in their parent's basement around the corner may be capable of the same intrusions, their actions not subject to any of the official box-ticking govt actors with which govt actors must (or at least should) comply.

And it is not just the danger of govt/sinister 3rd parties identifying potential security (or indeed political or economic) threats out of big data analysis, but the danger of govt and especially interested third parties targeting particular known individuals – political enemies to be sure, but also love rivals, toxic bosses, hated alpha males or queen bitches, supporters of other football clubs, members of other races not deemed fully human,.. the list is as long as that of human hatreds and jealousies. The danger lies not just in the use of the tech to ID threats (real or imagined) but in its application to traduce threats already perceived.

And it's not just off centre political opining that could be used in such efforts. The percentages of internet users who have accused [people of using] porn sites suggests there would be some serious overlap between the set of well known and/or 'important' people and the set of porn hounds. Remember the cack-handed attempts to smear Hans Blix? Apparently no fire behind that smoke, but what if there was? The mass US surveillance of other parties prior to UN Iraq deliberations (from the Merkels down to their state-level support bureaucrats) was a fleeting and hastily forgotten glimpse of the reach of TIA, its 'full spectrum dominance', from the heights of top level US-free strategy meetings down to the level of the thoughts and hopes of valets and ostlers to the leaders, who may be useful in turning up references to the peccadilloes of the higher-ups 'go massive – sweep it all up, things related and not'

And it's not just the fear of some sort of official retribution for dissenting political activism that guides our hands away from typing that deeply held but possibly inflammatory and potentially dangerous opinion. Most of us (real writers or just people who write) need to hold down a job and increasingly HR depts don't just 'do a Google' on all potential appointees to important roles but in large concerns at least, use algorithmic software connected to the web and the Cloud to process applications.

This is done without human intervention at the individual level but the whole process is set up in such a way that the algorithms are able to neatly, bloodlessly, move applicants for whom certain keywords turned up matches (union or party membership, letters to the editor or blog posts on financial fraud, climate change vanguardism, etc) to the back of the queue, in time producing a grey army of yes people in our bureaucracies.

The normal person's ability to keep pace with (let alone ahead of) the tech disappeared long ago. So when a possible anonymising solution – Tor – crops up but is soon exposed as yet another MI/SV bastard love child, the sense of disappointment is profound. Shocked but not surprised.

Truly, we are surrounded.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 5:57 am

"Then they got rid of the sick, the so-called incurables. – I remember a conversation I had with a person who claimed to be a Christian. He said: Perhaps it's right, these incurably sick people just cost the state money, they are just a burden to themselves and to others. Isn't it best for all concerned if they are taken out of the middle [of society]? "

We already know insurers have been using online searches to discriminate amongst the victimae. The married/unmarried differences in cancer treatments are a confirmation. Self-censorship is a rational decision in seeking information in a linked world. (I gave up on affording insurance, and I do searches for friends; the ads I get are amusing.)

It could be said that journalists have a professional duty, but as the man said, "If you believed something different, you wouldn't be sitting where you're sitting."

As the woman said, "If your business depends on a platform, your business is already dead."

(As for the above quote, check the provenance for the relevance.)

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 6:07 am

The quote is, "If your business depends on a platform, you don't have a business."

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 7:08 am

Thank you very much, I had searched and found the variant.

Seriously, do you have a link to the original (post? comment?) I quote you often on this. Or try to.

Yves Smith Post author , December 15, 2018 at 10:46 am

Aaaw ..Lambert may have quoted it in Water Cooler. We've both said it but mainly in comments.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 11:10 am

That's exactly what happened.

I confess I do concatenate your quotes on occasion: "For a currency to function as a reserve currency is tantamount to exporting jobs." Some of your most illuminating statements are in side comments to linked articles.

Means I spend a lot of time reading the site. But then I get to recategorize most other current events sites as 'Entertainment.' And since they're not very, they've been downregulated.

Arizona Slim , December 15, 2018 at 10:11 am

Giving up on affording insurance. That should never happen.

Steve H. , December 15, 2018 at 10:55 am

My choice being shackled e'n more to chains of FIRE, or living a healthy happy life, rather than increasing my stress by fighting institutions, we're investing in ourselves. Good sleep, good food, good exercise.

The basis of our diet is coffee, with cocoa (7% daily fiber with each tablespoon) and organic heavy whipping cream (your fats should be organic (;)). That cream's not cheap; well, actually it is amazingly cheap considering the energy inputs. I'll be fasting soon to murder cancer cells, and fasting also costs, lets see, nothing.

That the best thing you can do is nothing, occasionally, is a strong offset to the institutional framework. Janet's been a nurse 40 years, and every day (truth) we get another instance of not wanting the probisci inserted. Even when we get M4A, we'll be cautious in our approach.

KPC , December 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm

Pure air, pure water, pure food leads to pura vida or the good life. Paraphrasing the Karma Sutra.

The Rev Kev , December 15, 2018 at 6:58 am

I suppose that here we are looking at the dogs that did not bark for evidence of self-censorship. Certainly my plans to take over the world I do not keep on my computer. I had not considered the matter but I think that a case could be made that this may extend further than just writers. The number of writers that cannot publish in the US but must publish their work in obscure overseas publications is what happens to those who do not seek to self censor. There are other forms of censorship to be true. I read once where there was an editorial meeting for either the Washington Post or New York Times when a story came up that would make Israel look bad. The people at the table looked around and without so much as a nod that story was dropped from publication. Now that is self-censorship.
But I can see this self censorship at work elsewhere. To let my flight take fancy, who will paint the modern "Guernica" in this age? Would there be any chance that a modern studio would ever film something like "The Day After" mentioned in comments yesterday again? With so many great stories to be told, why has Hollywood run itself into a creative ditch and is content to film 1960s TV shows as a movie or a version of Transformers number 32? Where are the novels being written that will come to represent this era in the way that "The Great Gatsby" came to represent the 1920s? My point is that with a total surveillance culture, I have the feeling that this is permeating the culture and creating a chilling effect right across the board and just not in writing.

Tomonthebeach , December 15, 2018 at 1:31 pm

What we are experiencing censorship-wise is nothing new, just more insidious. It is not even a Left/Right politics issue. We just saw Trumpist fascist conservatives KILL the Weekly Standard (an action praised by Trump) for advocating the wrong conservativism. The shift in the televised/streamed media from news to infotainment has enabled neoliberal capitalism to censor any news that might alienate viewers/subscribers to justify obscene charges for advertising. Hilariously, even fascist Laura Ingram got gored by her own neolib ox.

Of course, a certain amount of self-censorship is prudent. Insulting, inflammatory, inciteful, hateful speech seldom animates beneficial change – just pointless violence (an sometimes law suits). Americans especially are so hung up on "free speech" rights that they too often fail to realize that no speech is truly free . There are always consequences for the purveyor, good and bad. Ask any kid on the playground with a bloody nose.

I would like to see some Google traitor write an article on the latest semantic analysis algorithms and tools. Thanks to the government, nobody but the FEDs and Google have access to these new tools that can mine terabytes of speech in seconds to highlight global patterns which might indicate plotting or organizing that might be entirely legal. I have been trying for years to get access to the newer unobtainable tools to help improve the development of diagnostic and monitoring self-report health measures. Such tools can also quickly scan journals to highlight and coordinate findings to accelerate new discoveries. For now, they are used to determine if your emails indicate you are a jihadist terrorist or dope peddler, or want to buy a Toyota or a Ford.

lyman alpha blob , December 15, 2018 at 5:07 pm

Where are the novels ?

Rhetorical I know, but Don DeLillo is quite good. It was in his novel Libra , although arguably from/about a different era at this point, where it first hit home to me that the Blob really does manipulate the media to its own ends all the time. And you can't swing a cat without hitting a terrorist in his books.

But to your point, DeLillo is pretty old at this point and I'm hard pressed to think of anyone picking up his mantle. And none of his novels, as brilliant as some of them might be, rise to the level of The Great Gatsby in the popular imagination to begin with.

cnchal , December 15, 2018 at 8:06 am

The surveillance people are the nicest, kindest human beings that have only your best interest at heart.

They would never break down your door and terrorize you for searching online for a pressure cooker and if you heard stories that they did that, the surveillancers have an answer for you, it's fake news, and if you persisted in not believing them, there are other methods of persuasion to get you to change your mind or at least shut up about it.

Carolinian , December 15, 2018 at 9:50 am

That pressure cooker story gets a lot of mileage. While there is undoubtedly a lot of surveillance it might be interesting to see a story on just how much of it leads to actual arrests on real or trumped up charges. Here's suggesting that the paranoia induced by books like Surveillance Valley is over the top in the same way that TV news' focus on crime stories causes the public to think that crime is rampant when it may actually be declining.

That said, journalists who indulge their vanity with Facebook or Twitter accounts are obviously asking for it. And the journalistic world in general needs to become a lot more technologically "literate" and realize that Youtube videos can be faked as well as how to separate the internet wheat from the chaff. Plus there's that old fashioned way of learning a story that is probably the way most stories are still reported: talking to people–hopefully in a room that hasn't been bugged.

Just to add that while the above may apply to America that doesn't mean the web isn't a much more sinister phenomenon in countries like China with its new social trust score. We must make sure the US never goes there.

Jeremy Grimm , December 15, 2018 at 3:36 pm

For your first sentence I think you are referencing:
The surveillance people are "the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being[s] I've ever known in my life." (ref. Statement by Major Marco about Raymond Shaw from 1962 and 2004 movies "The Manchurian Candidate"). ?
Maybe you need some refresher re-education.

thoughtful person , December 15, 2018 at 8:25 am

Expression of minority opinions and surpressed information is not a safe activity, thus we self censor. However reality asserts itself and perhaps in those moments one can more safely express alternate points of view. As far as writing online i worry about the future – with everything recorded and searchable, will we at some point be facing round ups of dissidents? What kind of supression will stressed governments and corporate hierarchies do in the future?

juliania , December 15, 2018 at 2:51 pm

Solzhenitsyn's "The First Circle" is a case in point, and not about the future either.

William Hunter Duncan , December 15, 2018 at 10:43 am

I think the last blog post I wrote that was linked here at NC was called "TPP is Treason."

I was writing and was published on the Internet from 2011-2016. I continue to write, but I no longer publish anything online, I closed my Facebook account, and I rarely comment on articles outside of NC, especially anywhere I have to give up a digital-ton of personal info and contacts just to say a few words one time.

Goodness knows I do not worry a bit about fundamentalist Islamic militancy. Do I have any anxiety about jackbooted "law enforcement" mercenaries in riot gear and automatic rifles breaking down my door at the behest, basically, of the corporate/banking/billionaire, neoliberal/neoconservative status quo, my big mouth excoriating these elite imperialists, at the same time asset forfeiture laws are on the books and I can have EVERYTHING taken from me for growing a single plant of cannabis, or even having any cannabis in my house, or not, all they have to report to a complicit media and prosecutorial State is that I was growing cannabis when there was none.

Of course there is little danger of that if I am not publishing, and hardly anyone knows I ever have, and no one currently is paying any attention.

The fact in America at least is, as long as the status quo is secure, TPTB don't really care what I write, as long as they do not perceive it as a threat, and the only way they would is if a LOT of people are listening But still, there is nothing more terrifying on earth than America's Law/Corporate/Bank/Privatized Military/Media imperialist State, chilling to say the least, evidenced in the extreme by a distracted, highly manipulated and neutered citizenry.

Wukchumni , December 15, 2018 at 10:52 am

"My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular."

"If we value the pursuit of knowledge, we must be free to follow wherever that search may lead us. The free mind is not a barking dog, to be tethered on a ten-foot chain."

Adlai Stevenson

rjs , December 15, 2018 at 11:32 am

Caitlin Johnstone has written about her own self-censorship a few times; her's one:

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2018/10/16/self-censorship-where-the-real-damage-is-being-done/

shinola , December 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

Siri? Alexa? Just volunteer.

Orwell was prescient. It just took a bit longer & is more commercialized than he anticipated.

Stratos , December 15, 2018 at 1:22 pm

So true. Surveillance sold as convenience -- -or "connection" (facebook and twitter, et. al.)

[Dec 15, 2018] Pwnie Awards

Dec 15, 2018 | pwnies.com

Lifetime Achievement Award

Most hackers have the personality of a supermodel who does discrete mathematics for fun. Like mathematicians, hackers get off on solving very obscure and difficult to even explain problems. Like models, hackers wear a lot of black, think they are more famous than they are, and their career effectively ends at age 30. Either way, upon entering one's third decade, it is time to put down the disassembler and consider a relaxing job in management.

[Dec 12, 2018] Freedom and privacy have been eroded by the malicious actions of psychopaths. The tech itself is like a fence. The destruction of liberty is like English kleptocrats forcing peasants off the commons and fencing the land into sheep pens. Don't blame fence technology; don't blame the sheep; blame the kleptocrats.

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

[Dec 12, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 12, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net
  1. Mary Margaret Flynn permalink April 24, 2016

    I am remembering the movie "Other Peoples' Lives", about the Stasi in East Germany before 1989; a terrific and even more terrifying today (than when I first saw it) about surveillance of every one by corporations and governments. the wall has come down, we've had the Middle East "Spring" but nothing is changed.

[Dec 10, 2018] What the Infotech-Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done Ian Welsh

Dec 10, 2018 | www.ianwelsh.net

What the Infotech/Telecom Revolution Has Actually Done 2016 April 23 tags: Infotech revolution , Telecom Revolution by Ian Welsh Globe on Fire There's a great deal of talk about how wonderful modern technology is. The internet, cell phones, and computers are the stars of this firmament. I believe such talk is somewhat overblown; the latest tech revolution is not as significant as many that have come before .

At least not in terms of doing good.

Let us examine what all this infotech really has changed.

Control. Massive control. Surveillance.

Just in time inventory. Not possible 50 years ago.

Second to second tracking of workers without having to have a supervisor physically watching them. Amazon warehouse workers carry devices which allow their workflow to be tracked to the second. And if they aren't making their seconds, the supervisor is right on them. This wasn't possible 30 years ago. If you wanted to have that sort of control, you had to have a supervisor physically watching them, and the cost was prohibitive.

This sort of tracking is used for clerical workers as well.

Outsourcing work that had to be kept domestic before. The massive call centers in Delhi and Ireland were not possible even 30 years ago. The cost was simply prohibitive.

Offshoring work, like manufacturing, was difficult to offshore before. Without real-time, high-density communications, cutting edge manufacturing overseas was very difficult in the past. You could offshore some things, certainly, but those industries tended to be mature industries: shipbuilding, textiles, and so on. Cutting edge industries, no, they had to be located close to the boffins or they were offshored to another, essentially First World country–as when Britain offshored much of their production to the United States in the late 19th century.

Commercial surveillance. Everything you buy is cross referenced. When you buy something at a major retailers, the store takes a picture of you and matches it with your information. All online purchase information is stored and centralized in databases. This information is shared. This includes, but goes far beyond, internet surveillance; witness Google or Facebook serving you ads based on what you've read or searched. Add this data to credit reports, bank accounts, and so on, and it provides a remarkably complete picture of your life, because everything you buy with anything but cash (and even some of that) is tracked. Where you are when you buy it is also tracked.

Government surveillance. Millions of cameras in London and most other First World cities. Millions of cameras in Chinese cities. Some transit systems now have audio surveillance. Because the government can seize any private surveillance as well, you can assume you're being tracked all day in most First World cities. Add this to the commercial surveillance system described above and the picture of your life is startlingly accurate.

As biometric recognition system comes online (face, gait, infrared, and more) this work will be done automatically.

What the telecom and infotech revolution has done is enable wide scale CONTROL and SURVEILLANCE.

These are two sides of the same coin, you can't control people if you don't what they're doing.

This control is most dictatorial, amusingly, in the private sector. The worse a job is, the more this sort of control has been used for super-Taylorization, making humans into little more than remotely controlled flesh robots.

It has made control of international conglomerates far easier; control from the top to the periphery far easier. This is true in the government and the military as well, where central commanders often control details like when bombs drop, rather than leaving it to a plane's crew.

This is a world where only a few people have practical power. It is a world, not of radical decentralization, but of radical centralization.

This is a vast experiment. In the past, there have been surveillance and control societies. But the math on them has always been suspect. Sometimes they work, and work brilliantly–like in Tokugawa Japan, certain periods of Confucian Chinese bureaucratic control, or ancient Egypt.

But often they have been defeated, and fairly easily, by societies which allowed more freedom; less control, less spying, and supervision. Societies which assumed people knew what to do on their own; or just societies that understood that the cost of close supervision and surveillance was too high to support.

The old East German Stasi model, with one-third of the population spying on the other two-thirds was the ludicrous extension of this.

What the telecom and infotech revolutions have actually enabled is a vast experiment in de-skilling, surveillance, and control–beyond the dreams even of the late 19th century Taylorist movement, with their stopwatches and assembly lines. Nothing people do, from what they eat, to what entertainment they consume, to when and how well they sleep; let alone everything they do during their working day, is beyond reach.

This is not to say there are no good results from infotech and computers -- there are plenty. But contrary to the idea that these technologies would increase freedom, they appear, on a daily basis, to have decreased freedom and privacy and promise to radically reduce them even more.

The second set of questions about any technology are how it can be used for violence, how it can be used for control, and how it can be used for ideological production.

(The first question, of course, is what is required to use it. More on that another time.)

Infotech may enable totalitarian societies which make those of the past look like kindergarten. We are already far past the technology used in the novel 1984 (Big Brother could not record, for example). That much of this surveillance is done by private actors as opposed to the government, does not reduce the loss of freedom, autonomy, and privacy.

Combined with making humans obsolete, infotech and the telecom revolution are as vastly important as their boosters say.

But, so far, not in a beneficial way. Yes, they could be used to make human lives better, it seems the real traction of the telecom and infotech revolutions remarkably began/coincided with neo-liberal policies which have hurt vast numbers of people in both the First and Third Worlds–precisely because they helped make those neo-liberal policies work.

Technologies are never neutral and there is no guarantee that "progress" will actually improve people's lives. Even if a technology has the potential to improve people's lives, potential is theoretical; i.e., not the same as practice.

Infotech and telecom tech are primarily control technologies, the same as writing was. They vastly increase the ability to centralize and to control a population's behaviour.

(Read also: The Late Internet Revolution is Not So Big A Deal )

[Dec 10, 2018] Facebook, Whatsup and Brazilian elections

Dec 10, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Over the last few years, the potentially damaging impact of the internet, and particularly social media, on democracy has increasingly come to dominate the news. The recently disclosed internal Facebook emails, which revealed that employees discussed allowing developers to harvest user data for a fee, are but the latest in a long line of scandals surrounding social media platforms. Facebook has also been accused, alongside Twitter, of fuelling the spread of false information. In October, the Brazilian newspaper Folha exposed how Jair Bolsonaro's candidacy benefited from a coordinated disinformation campaign conducted via Whatsapp, which is owned by Facebook. And there are growing concerns that this tactic could be used to skew the Indian general elections in April.

[Dec 09, 2018] Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Notable quotes:
"... Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people. ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military Reuters. EM: "Wow, this guy is clueless even by top-brass standards. For example: Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones." Moi: I assume this is intended for the great unwashed masses, to give them the impression that Google and the surveillance state are not joined at the hip.

Livius Drusus , December 8, 2018 at 7:31 am

Re: Top U.S. general urges Google to work with military

I will be more interested when the employees of a tech company revolt over the development of technology used to monitor workers or put them out of work. It is easier to oppose military projects because they smack of something out of The Terminator films while developments like Neo-Taylorism are not as obviously evil but are perhaps just as inhuman and socially destructive.

Molly , December 8, 2018 at 1:21 pm

I'm involved with the Tech Workers Coalition, although I only speak for myself as a member. Some of my fellow members were involved in the Google organizing against project Maven, and also Dragonfly. In the last few months there have also been organized actions at Amazon and Salesforce in opposition to working with ICE. Various TWC members are also involved in partnering with food service and janitorial staff around worker organizing and improving working conditions. One of the efforts I'm starting to get involved with is a more organized network for mutual aid and disaster relief in the Bay Area, in the wake of this year's fire season.

Just to say, many people in tech understand the issues go way beyond building smart bombs. Worker surveillance and gamification of work are inhuman disasters, I agree. The anti-military actions have simply been the most visible, and they are good catalysts for organizing because they are so obviously evil. Lots of people feel uncomfortable about building things that kill people.

Tech culture, especially in Silicon Valley, teaches workers to identify with the company completely. At Google you are a Googler. At Pivotal you are a Pivot. We refer to each other this way, inside and outside of work. We are working against that conditioning when we organize, so starting with "Let's not build things that blow humans into burning bits" is helpful.

[Dec 09, 2018] Large corporation like Facebooka and Google are profoundly undemocratic and have ties with intelligence agencies on multiple level including the level of founders

Notable quotes:
"... A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House . ..."
Dec 09, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

... ... ...

Yet, reality could be bleeker. A handful of private companies control the information that is needed to understand how the online ecosystem works. They manage the key infrastructure, and most experts in the field are running this infrastructure after having signed non-disclosure agreements. Thus, Plato's Allegory of the Cave might be a more fitting metaphor. Control over key data allows these companies to play the role of shadow-masters. They get the chance to reveal only the portions of reality they find convenient, defining how the general public perceives the online space. Information scarcity is therefore not just the natural consequence of the internet's novelty; it is created artificially and for strategic purposes: To shape public opinion.

Should we break up these big companies? Should we allow them to continue growing, but under strict, utility-type rules? Should we do nothing? Whatever we do should be the result of a robust public debate. One that is based on the best available evidence regarding the effects the internet is having on power relations, and is therefore capable of defining the set of actions that would best serve the public interest. In short, at this point, we need key information to be disclosed and available for public scrutiny. But information is power – and it is unlikely to be disclosed voluntarily. It might require regulation.

When food production became industrialized, the US Government created the Food and Drug Administration, which was tasked with monitoring and disclosing information regarding compliance with quality standards. When government became too complex for the average citizen to navigate, ombuds offices sprouted across the globe. As an independent institution of government, ombuds were given the duty and power to investigate how government units work, and report on matters concerning people's rights. The current situation requires exploring a similarly bold institutional reform. One focused on ensuring the data needed to inform public debate is made available by the tech industry.

Most people scoffed at the limited understanding of our digital world members of the US Congress revealed when they grilled Mark Zuckerberg . And yet its likely Facebook is not the only company behaving recklessly, nor the US Senators the only public representatives that are "ignorant".

What we have is a growing gap between where power lies and where the institutions that seek to hold it accountable to the people operate. Such institutions are incapable of allowing democratically elected leaders to deliver their campaign promises. This is what is ultimately triggering social tensions and undermining trust in our democracies. We need our institutions to interpret these tensions as red flags and a call for a new social contract. And we need institutions to react now. This situation goes far beyond the debate around digitalization. Yet the online space is our future, and is therefore where this gap is most visible and urgent.

If our current institutions of government fail to ensure the ongoing technological revolution puts people first, these institutions will sooner or later be rendered irrelevant.

A previous version of this article was published at Chatham House .


James McRitchie , December 8, 2018 at 10:16 am

Facebook is a dictatorship of one. Alphabet is a dictatorship of two. As long as corporate governance is anti-democratic that will have an unfortunately negative impact on civil society. I hope shareholders in these and other companies will vote in favor of proposals by NorthStar and others to phase out multi-class share structures, require that directors get at least a majority vote to take office, do away with supermajority voting requirements, etc.

Michael Fiorillo , December 8, 2018 at 11:00 am

The Internet was "born in sin," developed as it was to maintain communications during a nuclear holocaust against a fundamentally fake threat.

Let's remember that the Soviet Union, however repressive it may have been toward its own people and those in satellite countries, never posed the existential threat to the US that was claimed. Rather, as Senator Arthur Brandenburg of Michigan infamously told Harry Truman at the dawn of the Cold War, it would be necessary "to scare the hell out of the American people" to get them to turn against their former Soviet allies, which the State and compliant media spent the next forty years doing, often/largely producing weapons that don't work against enemies that don't exist.

How has the Internet ever not been a tool of the national security state, and why should we have ever expected otherwise?

Nick Stokes , December 8, 2018 at 3:31 pm

The internet is "mind control" for the elite. By making basic bias of the individual easy to qualify and nuture

...

precariat , December 8, 2018 at 5:45 pm

While the discussion of of the need for new paradigms for regulation and accountability -- lest democratic or civil institutions become irrelevant -- is very much needed, I am bewildered by the framing of the discussion to only the internet. The internet is just one, interactive and immediately visible use of technology that has the potential to undermine a fair society.

Some of the most insidious and destructive uses of data technology is not on the internet; it's tools and processes used by previously trusted corporations, governments, and institutions that is not regulated, not transparent and not accountable. So framing the discussion with the 'internet' seems disengenuous.

[Dec 05, 2018] Facebook Struck Secret Deals To Sell Preferential User Data; Used VPN App To Spy On Competitors

Notable quotes:
"... They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless. ..."
"... Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them). ..."
"... Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall. ..."
"... Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that. ..."
Dec 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Update: As the giant cache of newly released internal emails has also revealed, Karissa Bell of Mashable notes that Facebook used a VPN app to spy on its competitors .

The internal documents , made public as part of a cache of documents released by UK lawmakers, show just how close an eye the social network was keeping on competitors like WhatsApp and Snapchat , both of which became acquisition targets.

Facebook tried to acquire Snapchat that year for $3 billion -- an offer Snap CEO Evan Spiegel rejected . (Facebook then spent years attempting, unsuccessfully, to copy Snapchat before finally kneecapping the app by cloning Stories.)

...

Facebook's presentation relied on data from Onavo, the virtual private network (VPN) service which Facebook also acquired several months later . Facebook's use of Onavo, which has been likened to "corporate spyware," has itself been controversial.

The company was forced to remove Onavo from Apple's App Store earlier this year after Apple changed its developer guidelines to prohibit apps from collecting data about which other services are installed on its users' phones. Though Apple never said the new rules were aimed at Facebook, the policy change came after repeated criticism of the social network by Apple CEO Tim Cook. - Mashable

A top UK lawmaker said on Wednesday that Facebook maintained secretive "whitelisting agreements" with select companies that would give them preferential access to vast amounts of user data, after the parliamentary committee released documents which had been sealed by a California court, reports Bloomberg .

The documents - obtained in a sealed California lawsuit and leaked to the UK lawmaker during a London business trip, include internal emails involving CEO Mark Zuckerberg - and led committee chair Damian Collins to conclude that Facebook gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data for their apps, while shutting off access to data used by competing apps. Facebook also allegedly conducted global surveys of mobile app usage by customers - likely without their knowledge , and that "a change to Facebook's Android app policy resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made difficult for users to know about," according to Bloomberg.

In one email, dated Feb. 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would "continually upload" a user's call and SMS history would be a "high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective." A subsequent email suggests users wouldn't need to be prompted to give permission for this feature to be activated. - Bloomberg

The emails also reveal that Zuckerberg personally approved limiting hobbling Twitter's Vine video-sharing tool by preventing users from finding their friends on Facebook.

In one email, dated Jan. 23 2013, a Facebook engineer contacted Zuckerberg to say that rival Twitter Inc. had launched its Vine video-sharing tool, which users could connect to Facebook to find their friends there. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, " Yup, go for it ."

"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents," said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails. - Bloomberg

We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.

-- Damian Collins (@DamianCollins) December 5, 2018

Thousands of digital documents were passed to Collins on a London business trip by Ted Kramer, founder of app developer Six4Three, who obtained them during legal discovery in a lawsuit against Facebook. Kramer developed Pikinis, an app which allowed people to find photos of Facebook users wearing Bikinis. The app used Facebook's data which was accessed through a feed known as an application programming interface (API) - allowing Six4Three to freely search for bikini photos of Facebook friends of Pikini's users.

Facebook denied the charges, telling Bloomberg in an emailed statement: "Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform," adding "We've never sold people's data."

A small number of documents already became public last week, including descriptions of emails suggesting that Facebook executives had discussed giving access to their valuable user data to some companies that bought advertising when it was struggling to launch its mobile-ad business. The alleged practice started around seven years ago but has become more relevant this year because the practices in question -- allowing outside developers to gather data on not only app users but their friends -- are at the heart of Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook said last week that the picture offered by those documents was misleadingly crafted by Six4Three's attorneys. - WaPo

"The documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context," said Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, who added: "We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience."

Kramer was ordered by a California state court judge on Friday to surrender his laptop to a forensic expert after he admitted giving the UK committee the documents. The order stopped just short of holding the company in contempt as Facebook had requested, however after a hearing, California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope told Kramer that he may issue sanctions and a contempt order at a later date.

"What has happened here is unconscionable," said Swope. "Your conduct is not well-taken by this court. It's one thing to serve other needs that are outside the scope of this lawsuit. But you don't serve those needs, or satisfy those curiosities, when there's a court order preventing you to do so ."

Trouble in paradise?

As Facebook is now faced with yet another data harvesting related scandal, Buzzfeed reports that internal tensions within the company are boiling over - claiming that "after more than a year of bad press, internal tensions are reaching a boiling point and are now spilling out into public view."

Throughout the crises, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who maintains majority shareholder control, has proven remarkably immune to outside pressure and criticism -- from politicians, investors, and the press -- leaving his employees as perhaps his most important stakeholders. Now, as its stock price declines and the company's mission of connecting the world is challenged, the voices inside are growing louder and public comments, as well as private conversations shared with BuzzFeed News, suggest newfound uncertainty about Facebook's future direction.

Internally, the conflict seems to have divided Facebook into three camps: those loyal to Zuckerberg and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg; those who see the current scandals as proof of a larger corporate meltdown ; and a group who see the entire narrative -- including the portrayal of the company's hiring of communications consulting firm Definers Public Affairs -- as examples of biased media attacks. - Buzzfeed

"It's otherwise rational, sane people who're in Mark's orbit spouting full-blown anti-media rhetoric, saying that the press is ganging up on Facebook," said a former senior employee. "It's the bunker mentality. These people have been under siege for 600 days now. They're getting tired, getting cranky -- the only survival strategy is to quit or fully buy in."

A Facebook spokesperson admitted to BuzzFeed that this is "a challenging time."


Madcow , 7 minutes ago link

When exactly did [neo]Liberal Dems become enthusiastic cheerleaders for rapacious profit-maximizing corporations acting illegally against the public interest?

Why would "progressives" want to shield Facebook from anti-trust legislation? Compared to the 1950s / 60s / 70s ... it seems like "liberals" and "conservatives" have switched roles.

smacker , 2 hours ago link

Why is it that Zucker.slime.berg and so many other people of his ilk are basically crooks. They go into business to wheel & deal and to rip people off. There are no depths that they won't sink to just to enrich themselves with wealth and power. They quickly learn how to sidestep and evade every law on the statute books. They have no integrity, no ethical standards and no moral compass. They are conscienceless and shameless.

The world would be better off without them. Who would miss Phacephuq?

pedoland , 2 hours ago link

Dumb **** gets caught saying dumb ****.

Stop using the dumb ****'s website.

Tirion , 2 hours ago link

Surely by now people realize that FB is a data-gathering organ for a Deep State geointelligence database? Why all the indignation? Every key stroke you have ever made has been recorded. Just stop using all the Deep State social media (ie, all of them).

Get your faces out of your phones and look around you and see what's happening. Humanity is becoming digital. This is a control mechanism. To regain its sovereignty, humanity needs to unite spiritually and head in a new direction. Reject all the "divide-and-conquer" BS. We are many, they are few. United we stand. Divided, we fall.

Fluff The Cat , 2 hours ago link

Never used FaceBook nor any other social media platform. All they exist to do is aggregate personal data which is then either sold or handed to governments to build profiles and keep tabs on what people are doing. The hell with that.

DEDA CVETKO , 2 hours ago link

Secrecy? In American elitist establishment, the most transparent Skull-and-Boner tomb in history? NOOOOOOOOooooooo....!!!!

Idiocracy's Not Sure , 3 hours ago link

In the USA we have always had will always have corruption to the fullest extent possible. I know rich and powerful people who are very well connected and if the average person knew what they truly think they would be freakin pissed!!

[Dec 01, 2018] Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

Dec 01, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anon [190] Disclaimer , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:41 am GMT

I'm familiar with information retrieval tech and worked for a small non-U.S. search engine that was acquired by a major American search engine (not Google) in the late 20th century. I've kept up with things as much as one can do from the outside since then.

I do not buy the conspiracy angle here. I believe Google when they say that they are relying on automated algorithms.

You cannot really compare Google with any other search engine. DDG is a guy in his pajamas coding it all by himself (and I respect that). Bing on the other hand has a good team of talented information retrieval engineers, but they are nowhere near as well staffed as Google

In addition, a lot of Google's quirks derive from the fact that they are the big guys. Hackers and spammers and black hat SEOs target Google, looking for exploitable patterns. Nobody cares how they rank in Bing and DDG, so nobody targets them. Google thus has to plug the dike in all kinds of ways that the other search engines don't have to worry about.

Google is very evil, with its advertising price controls, automated stealing of data, preferences for its own services in search results over more popular competitors, and in many other ways. But I don't think that the Google Suggestions are deliberately skewed in the way you're suggesting.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some higher level component in their search software that is intended to combat black hat SEO is inadvertently skewing results in a way that seems to favor the left, in the same way that AI software tends to come to the conclusion that blacks commit a lot of crime and are not the best employees, although nobody programmed it to do that. And it is possible that when the skew is anti

Google Suggest was throwing out "Islamists are terrorists," "blacks are not oppressed," "hitler is my hero," "white supremacy is good," and so on.

Google is micro-gaslighting again, by Steve Sailer - The Unz Review

Tyrion 2 , says: November 30, 2018 at 9:49 am GMT

@anonymous It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

https://www.vox.com/science-and-health/2018/11/29/18117906/opioid-epidemic-drug-overdose-deaths-2017-life-expectancy

meh , says: November 30, 2018 at 10:22 am GMT
@Tyrion 2

It is an explanation that makes more sense to me than that Google is trying to hide it while Vox is trying to bring attention to it.

You are being remarkably obtuse.

Google is for the masses; what they do or don't do actually matters in terms of public perception.

Vox is for the policy elite and will make no impact on the public consciousness; it isn't meant for the masses.

Note that elite or specialist media have been talking about the opioid crisis for years, and yet the topic has never made it out to the public consciousness or public discourse at large, nor has it had any reception in the political sphere beyond mere platitudes, which anyone who was not been paying attention to the topic would even understand.

Amusingly, though, if you do a Ctrl F on article you link to, the name "Sackler" nowhere appears.

The point is how the elites control the public discourse, by keeping certain topics obscure to the public at large, while the elites and their hired professionals and Mandarins talk amongst themselves; a discourse not meant for the larger public.

But anyway, no one ever said that no one at all in the mass media was talking about the opioid crisis; this is just your implied strawman.

The topic was Google; you are simply using a diversion, i.e., moving the goalposts to the media at large.

[Nov 26, 2018] For those who have doubts that Facebook is controlled by intelligence agencies

Notable quotes:
"... yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0. ..."
Nov 26, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk

Isa , October 23, 2018 at 18:05

Off topic but it's an excellent article .

https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/10/23/facebook-censorship-of-alternative-media-just-the-beginning-says-top-neocon-insider/

SA , October 23, 2018 at 18:35

Note the role of the Atlantic council in this censorship. It is also subsiding the misinformation website called Bellingcat.

pretzelattack , October 23, 2018 at 19:35

yep the atlantic council seems to be playing the role of doug feith's pentagon propaganda operation during the buildup to iraq 2.0.

[Nov 25, 2018] UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting -- RT UK News

Notable quotes:
"... "malicious and fraudulent scheme" ..."
"... "We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," ..."
"... "to refrain from reviewing them" ..."
"... "return them to counsel or to Facebook." ..."
Nov 25, 2018 | www.rt.com

Published time: 25 Nov, 2018 04:39 Get short URL UK MPs seize documents expected to expose Facebook's covert data harvesting © Global Look Press / ZUMAPRESS.com / Panoramic The UK Parliament has taken hold of documents from Facebook that may shed light on the online giant's carefree approach to user privacy amid claims that it was fully aware of user data loopholes exploited by Cambridge Analytica. The documents were seized from the founder of US tech startup Six4Three, who was on a business trip to the UK, the Guardian reported , citing MP Damian Collins, chair of the Commons select committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The DCMS is in charge of investigating a siphoning of Facebook user data by UK consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The news on the massive data breach broke in March with Facebook later admitting the data of up to 87 million people might have been shared with Cambridge Analytica without their explicit consent. Read more Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in Washington 'In-house fake news shop' – Facebook facing new scandal and losing friends

It is alleged that the data was harvested to target the users in political campaigns, including in former UKIP leader Nigel Farage's Leave.EU campaign.

The UK parliamentary investigators used the former Six4Three top executive's brief stay in London to force him to hand over documents his firm had obtained from a US court in Six4Three's own lawsuit against Facebook.

The Guardian reported that the tech entrepreneur was warned he might go to jail or face a hefty fine if he refuses to comply with the British authorities' request.

The documents, which are now to be reviewed by the British MPs, are said to include a confidential correspondence between Facebook's senior officials, including Mark Zuckerberg, who has so far snubbed requests to testify before parliament.

The lawsuit Six4Three, an app-developing startup, brought against Facebook back in 2015, alleges that Zuckerberg was personally involved in a "malicious and fraudulent scheme" and deliberately left loopholes for data-harvesting companies to fend off competition.

The documents are expected to reveal the scope of the Facebook CEO's involvement in the alleged scheme.

"We have followed this court case in America and we believed these documents contained answers to some of the questions we have been seeking about the use of data, especially by external developers," Collins said.

Six4Three is in a long-running litigation with Facebook over the demise of its app Pikinis, that allowed users to scan through friends' photos in an automatic search for bikini pics. After Facebook disabled the function that allowed apps to access users' friend lists, Six4Three filed a complaint against Facebook, arguing that it hurt its business model by no longer permitting customers to share the data. Facebook argues that the allegations of its improper handling of personal data have nothing to do with the lawsuit and had unsuccessfully fought the release of its internal documents to Six4Three. The documents were provided to the startup by the San Mateo Superior Court in California and are subject to a non-disclosure order, meaning that are unlikely to be revealed to the public.

In response to the seizure of the documents by British MPs, Facebook has urged lawmakers "to refrain from reviewing them" while calling to "return them to counsel or to Facebook."

Zuckerberg has previously denied that he knew of illegal harvesting of user data by Cambridge Analytica before the breach was reported in the media.

It is alleged that Facebook's off-hand approach to personal data might have helped to alter the outcome of the Brexit vote. In March, former director of research at Cambridge Analytica, Chris Wylie, testified before MPs that the research carried out by a Canadian company with ties to Cambridge Analytica before 2016 Brexit referendum might have swayed the vote.

[Nov 16, 2018] US Is Optimistic It Will Prosecute Assange

Nov 15, 2018 | www.wsj.com

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against the WikiLeaks founder

The Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, according to people in Washington familiar with the matter. Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012...

The exact charges Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.

[Nov 15, 2018] Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself.

Nov 15, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Retail: "This time, Amazon has gone too far: Jeff Bezos's company is profiting and taxpayers are paying the price" [Matt Stoller, New York Daily News ]. The conclusion: "Fundamentally, Amazon is simply too powerful. It isn't just about subsidies. It isn't that merchants, or local businesses, or warehouse workers, or communities are being mistreated or misled. It's that Amazon has so much power over our political economy that it can acquire government-like functions itself. It controls elected officials, acquired the power to tax, and works with government to avoid sunshine laws. It's time to recognize the truth about this company. Two-day shipping might be really convenient, but at least in its current form, Amazon and democracy are incompatible." • Very good to see Stoller in the New York Daily News!

Retail: "Amazon's Last Mile" [ Gizmodo ]. "Near the very bottom of Amazon's complicated machinery is a nearly invisible workforce over two years in the making tasked with getting those orders to your doorstep. It's a network of supposedly self-employed, utterly expendable couriers enrolled in an app-based program which some believe may violate labor laws. That program is called Amazon Flex, and it accomplishes Amazon's "last-mile" deliveries -- the final journey from a local facility to the customer . Flex is indicative of two alarming trends: the unwillingness of legislators to curb harmful practices of tech behemoths run amok, and a shift towards less protected, more precarious opportunities in a stagnant job market.' • Read for the detail. It sounds as hellish as Amazon's warehouses.

Retail: "Desperately Seeking Cities" [ n+1 ]. "It is beyond question that, in whatever city it chose to grace, Amazon would bring neither the jobs that that city needed, nor the public works that it needed. In his latest variation on the urbanist delusion, written for the Financial Times, the much-pilloried Richard Florida plaintively appealed to Amazon not to "accept any tax or financial incentives," but rather to pledge to "invest alongside cities to create better jobs, build more affordable housing, and develop better schools, transit, and other badly needed public goods, along with paying its fair share of taxes." The depths of Florida's naiveté cannot be overstated. Not only is Amazon categorically unlikely to pledge what he wants (or, even if it did, make even the slightest effort to deliver on such a pledge), but Florida openly expresses his desire to cede all urban political power and every human demand to the whims of the company. In this respect, too, the Amazon HQ2 contest has been clarifying."

[Nov 12, 2018] Facebook, Google, and Microsoft Use Design To Trick You Into Handing Over Your Data, Report Warns

Notable quotes:
"... There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath. ..."
Nov 12, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: A study from the Norwegian Consumer Council dug into the underhanded tactics used by Microsoft, Facebook, and Google to collect user data . "The findings include privacy intrusive default settings, misleading wording, giving users an illusion of control, hiding away privacy-friendly choices, take-it-or-leave-it choices, and choice architectures where choosing the privacy friendly option requires more effort for the users," states the report , which includes images and examples of confusing design choices and strangely worded statements involving the collection and use of personal data.

Google makes opting out of personalized ads more of a chore than it needs to be and uses multiple pages of text, unclear design language, and, as described by the report, "hidden defaults" to push users toward the company's desired action. "If the user tried to turn the setting off, a popup window appeared explaining what happens if Ads Personalization is turned off, and asked users to reaffirm their choice," the report explained. "There was no explanation about the possible benefits of turning off Ads Personalization, or negative sides of leaving it turned on." Those who wish to completely avoid personalized ads must traverse multiple menus, making that "I agree" option seem like the lesser of two evils. In Windows 10, if a user wants to opt out of "tailored experiences with diagnostic data," they have to click a dimmed lightbulb, while the symbol for opting in is a brightly shining bulb, says the report.

Another example has to do with Facebook. The social media site makes the "Agree and continue" option much more appealing and less intimidating than the grey "Manage Data Settings" option. The report says the company-suggested option is the easiest to use. "This 'easy road' consisted of four clicks to get through the process, which entailed accepting personalized ads from third parties and the use of face recognition. In contrast, users who wanted to limit data collection and use had to go through 13 clicks."

dromgodis ( 4533247 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:50AM ( #56858014 )

Re:And if you optout it just makes you even more o ( Score: 5 , Informative)

You seem to be keeping your gaze too low. You are not just a target for buying stuff; you are also a target for modifying your opinion and behaviour in politics and other questions.

You can be targeted through other vectors than traditional ads, e.g. notification flows, news flows, ads-or-propaganda-disguised-as-news, product placement, insurance company policies, employability, police knocking on your door, ...

As an extreme, think China. The view we outsiders get is that if they collect the wrong data about you, they will *target* you in a way that no ad-blocker will stop.

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

This should not be a surprise ( Score: 3 , Insightful) by Anonymous Coward writes: on Wednesday June 27, 2018 @11:44PM ( #56857560 )

This info has been out there for years yet no one is listening and/or cares. The mantra of people seems to be "it's free" so why not. I have long ago seen this coming. Use Fedora Linux or Debian. Use an iPhone over Android despite Apple having some issues. Use P2P apps in lieu of things like Skype. Own your own domain and use that for email. It's cheap and you have control of your user name and domain name. Tie that domain name to a privacy-respecting service like Fastmail.

Don't use spy devices like Alexa or Google Home. These exist not to help you but to harvest your data 24/7. Roll your own solutions, especially if you're technical or in IT. Use your own skills. Run a Pi-hole, block and defund the ad companies and tracking companies. Like drugs, just say no...

Never attribute to malice ( Score: 3 ) by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @03:40AM ( #56858106 )

what can be attributed to three companies who are some of the worst offenders of screwing up general UI design.

Who the hell cares about my privacy settings when I can no longer safely use maps for navigation due to its shitty settings of minimising into a useless picture in picture everytime there's a hiccup on my phone and has removed the option to force audio output throught the speaker meaning I can't hear it with bluetooth on either.

Who the hell cares about privacy settings on a website that makes it borderline impossible to easily scroll through past messages, or whose mobile app doesn't let you post pictures because it ends up in a select picture loop.

And as for Microsoft, one word... err two words: Start Menu *raises middle finger*

triffid_98 ( 899609 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @02:29AM ( #56857984 )
Re: Gee, what a surprise ... ( Score: 5 , Insightful)

While Facebook is avoidable good luck avoiding Microsoft and Google if you're not a member of the zombie Steve Jobs fan club...that said, whatever they extract is far less damaging than the Equifax breach, after that I'd say cell phone carriers and all of the historical gps data they share with third parties without your consent. Just like the instigators of the 2008 global financial meltdown the penalties = zero dollars.

Raenex ( 947668 ) writes: on Thursday June 28, 2018 @06:28AM ( #56858434 )
Re: Alternatives ( Score: 4 , Insightful)

You sound like a Google employee. There's no doubt about Google tracking. At least DuckDuckGo has a stated policy of not tracking, and is an alternative to the Google Goliath.

[Nov 12, 2018] DEA And ICE Hiding Secret Cameras In Streetlights

Modern technology makes many things possible, but it does not make them cheap... The camera needs to work in pretty adverse conditions (think about the temperature inside the light on a hot summer day, and temperature at winter) and transmit signal somewhere via WiFi (which has range less then 100m) , or special cable that needs to be installed for this particular pole. With wifi there should be many collection units which also cost money. So it make sense only for streetlights adjacent to building with Internet networking. And there are already cameras of the highway, so highways are basically covered. Which basically limits this technology to cities. Just recoding without transmission would be much cheaper (transmission on demand). Excessive paranoia here is not warranted.
Nov 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

According to new government procurement data, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have purchased an undisclosed number of secret surveillance cameras that are being hidden in streetlights across the country.

Quartz first reported this dystopian development of federal authorities stocking up on "covert systems" last week. The report showed how the DEA paid a Houston, Texas company called Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. approximately $22,000 since June for "video recording and reproducing equipment." ICE paid out about $28,000 to Cowboy Streetlight Concealments during the same period.

"It's unclear where the DEA and ICE streetlight cameras have been installed, or where the next deployments will take place. ICE offices in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio have provided funding for recent acquisitions from Cowboy Streetlight Concealments; the DEA's most recent purchases were funded by the agency's Office of Investigative Technology, which is located in Lorton, Virginia," said Quartz.

Below is the list Of contract actions for Cowboy Streetlight Concealments LLC. Vendor_Duns_Number: "085189089" on the Federal Procurement Database:

Christie Crawford, who co-owns Cowboy Streetlight Concealments with her husband, said she was not allowed to talk about the government contracts in detail.

"We do streetlight concealments and camera enclosures," Crawford told Quartz. "Basically, there's businesses out there that will build concealments for the government and that's what we do. They specify what's best for them, and we make it. And that's about all I can probably say."

However, she added: "I can tell you this -- things are always being watched. It doesn't matter if you're driving down the street or visiting a friend, if government or law enforcement has a reason to set up surveillance, there's great technology out there to do it."

Quartz notes that the DEA issued a solicitation for "concealments made to house network PTZ [Pan-Tilt-Zoom] camera, cellular modem, cellular compression device," last Monday. According to solicitation number D-19-ST-0037, the sole source award will go to Obsidian Integration LLC.

On November 07, the Jersey City Police Department awarded Obsidian Integration with "the purchase and delivery of a covert pole camera." Quartz said the filing did not provide much detail about the design.

It is not just streetlights the federal government wants to mount covert surveillance cameras on, it seems cameras inside traffic barrels could be heading onto America's highways in the not too distant future.

And as Quartz reported in October, the DEA operates a complex network of digital speed-display road signs that covertly scan license plates. On top of all this, Amazon has been aggressively rolling out its Rekognition facial-recognition software to law enforcement agencies and ICE, according to emails uncovered by the Project for Government Oversight.

Chad Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel for the ACLU, told Quartz that cameras in street lights have been proposed before by local governments, typically under a program called "smart" LED street light system.

"It basically has the ability to turn every streetlight into a surveillance device, which is very Orwellian to say the least," Marlow told Quartz. "In most jurisdictions, the local police or department of public works are authorized to make these decisions unilaterally and in secret. There's no public debate or oversight."

And so, as the US continues to be distracted, torn amid record political, social and economic polarization, big brother has no intention of letting the current crisis go to waste, and quietly continues on its path of transforming the US into a full-blown police and surveillance state.


wuffie , 9 minutes ago link

I previously worked for one of these types of federal agencies and to be fair, $50,000 doesn't buy a lot of video surveillance equipment at government procurement costs. The contractor doesn't just drill a hole and install a camera, they provide an entirely new streetlight head with the camera installed.

SantaClaws , 36 minutes ago link

It would be nice if they put some of this technology to work for a good cause. Maybe warning you of traffic congestion ahead. Or advising you that one of your tires will soon go flat.

Obviously that won't happen, so in the meantime, I can't wait to read next how the hackers will find a way to make this government effort go completely haywire. As if the government can't do it without any help. At least when the hackers do it, it will be funny and thorough.

21st.century , 56 minutes ago link

Besides the creepy surveillance part, some of the street light tech is interesting . lights that dim like the frozen food section - when no one is in front of the case --- RGB lighting that shows the approximate location for EMS to a 911 call ( lights that EMS can follow by color)

basic neighborhood street lights are being replaced by LED -- lights in this article.

Hey, I have street lights AND cameras on the same poles at the shop/mad scientist lab/ play house.

but- surveillance -- the wall better have these lights -- light up the border !

Oldguy05 , 1 hour ago link

This is yesteryears news. Shot Spotter has microphones that can pick up whispered conversations for 300 feet for a long time now, while triangulating any gunshot in a city...

[Nov 12, 2018] Obama s CIA Secretly Intercepted Congressional Communications About Whistleblowers

Highly recommended!
So the USA Congress operates under CIA surveillance... Due to CIA access to Saudi money the situation is probably much worse then described as CIA tried to protect both its level of influence and shadow revenue streams.
Notable quotes:
"... The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing. ..."
"... I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014 ..."
"... The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement. ..."
"... According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper." ..."
"... Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications ..."
"... CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director ..."
"... During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016. ..."
Nov 02, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Sharyl Attkisson,

Newly-declassified documents show the CIA intercepted sensitive Congressional communications about intelligence community whistleblowers.

The intercepts occurred under CIA Director John Brennan and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. The new disclosures are contained in two letters of "Congressional notification" originally written to key members of Congress in March 2014, but kept secret until now.

In the letters, then-Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough tells four key members of Congress that during "routing counterintelligence monitoring of Government computer systems," the CIA collected emails between Congressional staff and the CIA's head of whistleblowing and source protection. McCullough states that he's concerned "about the potential compromise to whistleblower confidentiality and the consequent 'chilling effect' that the present [counterintelligence] monitoring system might have on Intelligence Community whistleblowing."

The idea that the CIA would monitor communications of U.S. government officials, including those in the legislative branch, is itself controversial. But in this case, the CIA picked up some of the most sensitive emails between Congress and intelligence agency workers blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing.

"Most of these emails concerned pending and developing whistleblower complaints," McCullough states in his letters to lead Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees at the time: Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Saxby Chambliss (R-Georgia); and Representatives Michael Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland). McCullough adds that the type of monitoring that occurred was "lawful and justified for [counterintelligence] purposes" but

"I am not confident that Congressional staff fully understood that their whistleblower-related communications with my Executive Director of whistleblowing might be reviewed as a result of routine [CIA counterintelligence] monitoring." -- Intelligence Community Inspector General 2014

The disclosures from 2014 were released late Thursday by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). "The fact that the CIA under the Obama administration was reading Congressional staff's emails about intelligence community whistleblowers raises serious policy concerns as well as potential Constitutional separation-of-powers issues that must be discussed publicly," wrote Grassley in a statement.

According to Grassley, he originally began trying to have the letters declassified more than four years ago but was met with "bureaucratic foot-dragging, led by Brennan and Clapper."

Grassley adds that he repeated his request to declassify the letters under the Trump administration, but that Trump intelligence officials failed to respond. The documents were finally declassified this week after Grassley appealed to the new Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael Atkinson.

History of alleged surveillance abuses

Back in 2014, Senators Grassley and Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) had asked then-Director of National Intelligence Clapper about the possibility of the CIA monitoring Congressional communications. A Congressional staffer involved at the time says Clapper's response seemed to imply that if Congressional communications were "incidentally" collected by the CIA, the material would not be saved or reported up to CIA management.

"In the event of a protected disclosure by a whistleblower somehow comes to the attention of personnel responsible for monitoring user activity," Clapper wrote to Grassley and Wyden on July 25, 2014, "there is no intention for such disclosure to be reported to agency leadership under an insider threat program."

However, the newly-declassified letters indicate the opposite happened in reality with the whistleblower-related emails:

"CIA security compiled a report that include excerpts of whistleblower-related communications and this reports was eventually shared with the Director of the Office of Security and the Chief of the Counterintelligence Center" who "briefed the CIA Deputy Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chiefs of Staff for both the CIA Director and the Deputy Director."

Clapper has previously come under fire for his 2013 testimony to Congress in which he denied that the national Security Agency (NSA) collects data on millions of Americans. Weeks later, Clapper's statement was proven false by material leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

"During Director Clapper's tenure, senior intelligence officials engaged in a deception spree regarding mass surveillance," said Wyden upon Clapper's retirement in 2016.

"Top officials, officials who reported to Director Clapper, repeatedly misled the American people and even lied to them."

Clapper has repeatedly denied lying, and said that any incorrect information he provided was due to misunderstandings or mistakes.

Clapper and Brennan have also acknowledged taking part in the controversial practice of "unmasking" the protected names of U.S. citizens - including people connected to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump - whose communications were "incidentally" captured in US counterintelligence operations. Unmaskings within the US intelligence community are supposed to be extremely rare and only allowed under carefully justified circumstances. This is to protect the privacy rights of American citizens. But it's been revealed that Obama officials requested unmaskings on a near daily basis during the election year of 2016.

Clapper and Brennan have said their activities were lawful and not politically motivated. Both men have become vocal critics of President Trump.

* * *

Order the New York Times bestseller "The Smear" today online or borrow from your library


Keter , 5 hours ago link

"ah, ah, ah, em, not intentionally." Clapper - ROFL

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Can you imagine what kind of place the US would have been under Clinton?!!!!!!

All the illegality, spying, conniving, dirty tricks, arcancides, selling us out to the highest bidder and full on attack against our Constitution would be in full swing!

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

When intel entities can operate unimpeded and un-monitored, it spells disaster for everyone and everything outside that parameter. Their operations go unnoticed until some stray piece of information exposes them. There are many facilities that need to be purged and audited, but since this activity goes on all over the world, there is little to stop it. Even countries that pledge allegiance and cooperation are blindsiding their allies with bugs, taps, blackmails, and other crimes. Nobody trusts nobody, and that's a horrid fact to contend with in an 'advanced' civilization.

numapepi , 9 hours ago link

Almost sounds like the Praetorian guard?

The real power behind the throne.

Rhys12 , 10 hours ago link

Forget the political parties. When the intelligence agencies spy on everyone, they know all about politicians of both parties before they ever win office, and make sure they have enough over them to control them. They were asleep at the switch when Trump won, because no one, including them, believed he would ever win. Hillary was their candidate, the State Department is known overseas as "the political arm of the CIA". They were furious when she lost, hence the circus ever since.

iAmerican10 , 11 hours ago link

From its founding by the Knights of Malta the JFK&MLK-assassinating, with Mossad 9/11-committing CIA has been the Vatican's US Fifth Column action branch, as are the FBI and NSA: with an institutional hiring preference for Roman Catholic "altared boy" closet-queen psychopaths "because they're practiced at keeping secrets."

Think perverts Strzok, Brennan, and McCabe "licked it off the wall?"

Smi1ey , 11 hours ago link

We need to bring back FOIA.

Too much secrecy.

And how is that Pentagon audit doing, btw?

Chaotix , 9 hours ago link

I agree with you 100%. Problem is, tons of secret technology and information have been passed out to the private sector. And the private sector is not bound to the FOIA requests, therefore neutralizing the obligation for government to disclose classified material. They sidestepped their own policies to cooperate with corrupt MIC contractors, and recuse themselves from disclosing incriminating evidence.

archie bird , 12 hours ago link

Everyone knows that spying runs in the fam. 44th potus Mom and Gma BOTH. An apple doesn't fall from the tree. If ppl only knew the true depth of the evil and corruption we would be in the hospital with a heart attack. Gilded age is here and has been, since our democracy was hijacked (McCain called it an intervention) back in 1963. Unfortunately it started WAY back before then when (((they))) stole everything with the installation of the Fed.

Dornier27 , 15 hours ago link

The FBI and CIA have long since slipped the controls of Congress and the Constitution. President Trump should sign an executive order after the mid terms and stand down at least the FBI and subject the CIA to a senate investigation.

America needs new agencies that are accountable to the peoples elected representatives.

greasyknees , 16 hours ago link

Not news. The CIA likely has had access to any and all electronic communication for at least a decade.

Lord JT , 19 hours ago link

what? clapper and brennan being dirty hacks behind the scenes while parading around as patriots? say it aint so!

Racin Rabitt , 20 hours ago link

A determined care has been used to cultivate in D.C., a system that swiftly decapitates the whistleblowers. Resulting in an increasingly subservient cadre of civil servants who STHU and play ostrich, or drool at what scraps are about to roll off the master's table as the slide themselves into a better position, taking advantage to sell vice, weapons, and slaves.

Westcoastliberal , 21 hours ago link

What the hell does the CIA have to do with ANYTHING in the United States? Aren't they limited to OUTSIDE the U.S.? So why would they be involved in domestic communications for anything? These clowns need to be indicted for TREASON!

5onIt , 22 hours ago link

Clapper and Brennan, Brennan and Clapper. These two guys are the damn devil.

It makes me ill.

MuffDiver69 , 22 hours ago link

I'll take " Police State" for five hundred Alex

[Nov 10, 2018] Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine

Nov 10, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Harry Law , Nov 10, 2018 9:11:40 AM | link

Hacking operations by anyone, can and will be used by US propagandists to provoke Russia or whoever stands in the way of the US war machine, take this Pompeo rant against Iran and the Iranian response......

Asking of Pompeo "have you no shame?", Zarif mocked Pompeo's praise for the Saudis for "providing millions and millions of dollars of humanitarian relief" to Yemen, saying America's "butcher clients" were spending billions of dollars bombing school buses. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif issued a statement lashing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his recent comments on the Yemen War. Discussing the US-backed Saudi invasion of Yemen, Pompeo declared Iran to be to blame for the death and destruction in the country. https://news.antiwar.com/2018/11/09/iran-fm-slams-pompeo-for-blaming-yemen-war-on-iran/

The US way of looking at things supposes that up is down, and white is black, it makes no sense, unless the US hopes these provocations will lead to a war or at the very least Russia or Iran capitulating to US aggression, which will not happen. Sanctions by the US on all and sundry must be opposed, if not the US will claim justifiably to be the worlds policeman and the arbiter of who will trade with who, a ludicrous proposition but one that most governments are afraid is now taking place, witness the new US ambassador to Germany in his first tweet telling the Germans to cease all trade with Iran immediately.

https://www.thelocal.de/20180509/us-tells-german-businesses-to-stop-trade-in-iran-immediately

[Nov 08, 2018] Ed Snowden Infamous Israeli Spyware 'Pegasus' Helped Kill Khashoggi

Nov 08, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Via MiddleEastMonitor.com,

US whistle-blower Edward Snowden yesterday claimed that Saudi Arabia used Israeli spyware to target murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi .

Addressing a conference in Tel Aviv via a video link, Snowden claimed that software made by an Israeli cyber intelligence firm was used by Saudi Arabia to track and target Khashoggi in the lead up to his murder on 2 October inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Snowden told his audience:

"How do they [Saudi Arabia] know what his [Khashoggi's] plans were and that they needed to act against him? That knowledge came from the technology developed by NSO," Israeli business daily Globes reported.

Snowden accused NSO of "selling a digital burglary tool," adding it "is not just being used for catching criminals and stopping terrorist attacks, not just for saving lives, but for making money [ ] such a level of recklessness [ ] actually starts costing lives," according to the Jerusalem Post .

Snowden – made famous in 2013 for leaking classified National Security Agency (NSA) files and exposing the extent of US surveillance – added that "Israel is routinely at the top of the US' classified threat list of hackers along with Russia and China [ ] even though it is an ally".

Snowden is wanted in the US for espionage, so could not travel to Tel Aviv to address the conference in person for fear of being handed over to the authorities.

The Israeli firm to which Snowden referred – NSO Group Technologies – is known for developing the "Pegasus" software which can be used to remotely infect a target's mobile phone and then relay back data accessed by the device. Although NSO claims that its products "are licensed only to legitimate government agencies for the sole purpose of investigating and preventing crime and terror," this is not the first time its Pegasus software has been used by Saudi Arabia to track critics.

In October it was revealed that Saudi Arabia used Pegasus software to eavesdrop on 27-year-old Saudi dissident Omar Abdulaziz, a prominent critic of the Saudi government on social media.

The revelation was made by Canadian research group Citizen Lab , which found that the software had been used to hack Abdulaziz' iPhone between June and August of this year. Citizen Lab's Director Ron Deibert explained that such actions by Saudi Arabia "would constitute illegal wiretapping".

A separate report by Citizen Lab in September found a "significant expansion of Pegasus usage in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries in the Middle East," in particular the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Citizen Lab added that in August 2016, Emirati human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor was targeted with the Pegasus spyware.

Snowden's comments come less than a week after it emerged that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the United States to stand by Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) in the wake of the Khashoggi case. The revelation was made by the Washington Post , which cited information from US officials familiar with a series of telephone conversations made to Jared Kushner – senior advisor to President Donald Trump and Trump's son-in-law – and National Security Adviser John Bolton regarding the Khashoggi case. The officials told the Post that:

In recent days, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have reached out to the Trump administration to express support for the crown prince, arguing that he is an important strategic partner in the region, said people familiar with the calls.

Bin Salman has come under intense scrutiny in the month since Khashoggi first disappeared , with many suspecting his involvement in ordering the brutal murder. Yet while several world leaders have shunned the crown prince, it is thought that Israel would suffer from any decline in Saudi influence in the region in light of its purportedly central role in the upcoming " Deal of the Century ".

[Nov 06, 2018] Edward Snowden Says a Report Critical To an NSA Lawsuit Is Authentic

Nov 06, 2018 | yro.slashdot.org

(techcrunch.com) 36 BeauHD on Monday November 05, 2018 @07:30PM from the he-said-she-said dept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: An unexpected declaration by whistleblower Edward Snowden filed in court [last] week adds a new twist in a long-running lawsuit against the NSA's surveillance programs. The case, filed by the EFF a decade ago , seeks to challenge the government's alleged illegal and unconstitutional surveillance of Americans, who are largely covered under the Fourth Amendment's protections against warrantless searches and seizures. It's a big step forward for the case, which had stalled largely because the government refused to confirm that a leaked document was authentic or accurate. News of the surveillance broke in 2006 when an AT&T technician Mark Klein revealed that the NSA was tapping into AT&T's network backbone. He alleged that a secret, locked room -- dubbed Room 641A -- in an AT&T facility in San Francisco where he worked was one of many around the U.S. used by the government to monitor communications -- domestic and overseas. President George W. Bush authorized the NSA to secretly wiretap Americans' communications shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

Much of the EFF's complaint relied on Klein's testimony until 2013, when Snowden, a former NSA contractor, came forward with new revelations that described and detailed the vast scope of the U.S. government's surveillance capabilities, which included participation from other phone giants -- including Verizon (TechCrunch's parent company). Snowden's signed declaration, filed on October 31 , confirms that one of the documents he leaked , which the EFF relied heavily on for its case, is an authentic draft document written by the then-NSA inspector general in 2009 , which exposed concerns about the legality of the Bush's warrantless surveillance program -- Stellar Wind -- particularly the collection of bulk email records on Americans. "I read its contents carefully during my employment," he said in his declaration. "I have a specific and strong recollection of this document because it indicated to me that the government had been conducting illegal surveillance."

[Nov 05, 2018] Stay In That Good Fight Retired Green Beret Urges Americans To Stand Up To The Globalists

Nov 05, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Jeremiah Johnson (nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces) via SHTFplan.com,

The actions that are taken are a three-pronged attack in order to foster in global governance, and they are as such:

  1. Create ubiquitous electronic surveillance with unlimited police power
  2. Throw the entire earth into an economic tailspin
  3. Destroy all nationalism, national borders, and create chaos among all nations prior to an "incendiary event" or series of actions that leads to a world war.

The world war is the most important part of it all, in the eyes of the globalists. The Great Depression culminated in a world war, and periods of economic upheaval are always followed by wars.

... ... ...

Every word here is recorded by XKeyscore mine and yours and stored in the NSA database in Utah, under a file for "dissenters," "agitators," and every other descriptive label that can be thought of for those who champion critical thought and independent thinking. Every conservative-minded journalist or writer who dares to espouse these views and theories is being recorded and kept under some kind of watch. You can be certain of it . Many are either shutting down or "knuckling under" and complying.

The globalists are getting what they wish: consolidating the resources while they "tank" the fiat economies and currencies of the nations. They are destroying cultures who just a mere two centuries ago would have armed their entire male populaces with swords and sent invaders either packing or in pieces.

They are destroying cultures by making them question themselves ! The greatest tactic imaginable!

I submit this last for your perusal. Do you know who you are? The question is not just as simple as it seems. Let's delve deeply. Do you really know who you are, where your family originates? Your heritage, and its strengths and weaknesses? Is that heritage yours, along with your heritage as an American citizen? It is not important that I, or others should know of these strengths not at this moment in time. The world war is yet to come. As Shakespeare said, "To thine own self be true." This is important for you to know it and hold fast to it. We are in the decline of the American nation-now-empire.

When the dust settles, you'll know who will run with the ball even with three blockers against them and will manage to slip the tackles or forearm shiver them in the face, outside of the ref's eye, to run that ball in. The Marquis of Queensbury is dead, and those rules will go out the window. When the dust settles, those who had the foresight and acted on it will be the ones who will be given a gift: a chance to participate in what is to come. Stay in that good fight, and fight it to win each day.

[Oct 28, 2018] A low-altitude persistent-loitering traffic-monitoring drone.

Oct 28, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

Anton Worter , Oct 27, 2018 3:32:36 PM | link

If memory serves, there is a no-schrapnel waxed-cardboard version of an RPG available for non-armored targets. When I saw the Hastings crime scene, I saw the rear of the burning car blown out by that RPG, and *then* Hastings crashed into the tree at an impossible angle, instinctively power-sliding from what he must have assumed was a truck had just slammed into his right rear quarter-panel. Don't be Michael Hastings. Don't be Robert Bowers, for that matter, lol. The US-UK-IL-KSA mugwumps!

And that's why we will never have autonomous private vehicles. They are just using taxpaying citizens as beta-testers for an autonomous Deep-Purple Mil.Gov UniParty global police state.

By pure coincidence at a business-club dinner last night, I sat next to a military subcontractor with Chinese connectiins, an import license and a Made-in-USA final assembly warehouse. He is developing a low-altitude persistent-loitering traffic-monitoring drone. He was in Bellevue to meet with the coders. It would be used with the HOV lane high resolution cameras and real-time facial-recognition software, to identify speeders' names, vehicles and addresses for first-deployment ... but can just as easily operate in reverse to find a target and confirm-identify the front-seat passengers, then paint a laser target on the vehicle as it wings down the freeway, waiting for an open area Hastings-esque hellfire denouement.

Prolly for MENA. Prolly A-OK, Joe. Nothing to see here, citizen. E pluribus now get back to work. Pence's latest $1/4-TRILLION nuclear ICBM upgrade program awards soon, and we're gonna need those tithe-tributes!

[Oct 28, 2018] WikiLeaks' Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity by Mark Curtis

Notable quotes:
"... Save WikiLeaks is vilified by governments (and increasingly by journalists) for its exposures, including of the U.S.-UK "special relationship" in running a joint foreign policy of deception and violence that serves London and Washington's elite interests, says Mark Curtis. ..."
"... Middle East Eye ..."
"... A cable the following year shows the lengths to which Whitehall goes to defend the special relationship from public scrutiny. Just as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War was beginning in 2009, Whitehall promised Washington that it had "put measures in place to protect your interests". ..."
"... The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British government duplicity of the kind I've extensively come across in my own research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him. ..."
"... However, Wikileaks files released in 2016 as part of its Hillary Clinton archive show William Burns, then the U.S. deputy secretary of state, having talked with now Foreign Secretary Hague about a "post-Qaddafi" Libya . This was more than three weeks before military operations began. The intention was clearly to overthrow Gaddafi, and the UN resolution about protecting civilians was simply window dressing. ..."
"... (U.S. Air Force photo) ..."
"... Cables show the US spying on the Foreign Office and collecting information on British ministers. Soon after the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, U.S. officials were briefing the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about rumors that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully, and on " the state of his marriage. " ..."
"... In addition, Wikileaks cables reveal that journalists and the public are considered legitimate targets of UK intelligence operations. In October 2009, Joint Services Publication 440 , a 2,400-page restricted document written in 2001 by the Ministry of Defence, was leaked. Somewhat ironically, it contained instructions for the security services on to avid leaks of information by hackers , journalists and foreign spies. ..."
"... (New Media Days / Peter Erichsen) ..."
Oct 28, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

WikiLeaks' Legacy of Exposing US-UK Complicity October 27, 2018 • 7 Comments

Save WikiLeaks is vilified by governments (and increasingly by journalists) for its exposures, including of the U.S.-UK "special relationship" in running a joint foreign policy of deception and violence that serves London and Washington's elite interests, says Mark Curtis.

By Mark Curtis
Middle East Eye

Twelve years ago this month, WikiLeaks began publishing government secrets that the world public might otherwise never have known. What it has revealed about state duplicity, human rights abuses and corruption goes beyond anything published in the world's "mainstream" media.

After over six months of being cut off from outside world, on 14 October 14 Ecuador has partly restored Wikileaks founder Julian Assange's communications with the outside world from its London embassy where the founder has been living for over six years. (Assange, however, later rejected Ecuador's restrictions imposed on him.)

The treatment – real and threatened – meted out to Assange by the U.S. and UK governments contrasts sharply with the service Wikileaks has done their publics in revealing the nature of elite power, as shown in the following snapshot of Wikileaks' revelations about British foreign policy in the Middle East.

Conniving with the Saudis

Whitehall's special relationship with Riyadh is exposed in an extraordinary cable from 2013 highlighting how Britain conducted secret vote-trading deals with Saudi Arabia to ensure both states were elected to the UN human rights council. Britain initiated the secret negotiations by asking Saudi Arabia for its support.

Hague: 'World needs pro-American regime' in Britain. (Chatham House)

The Wikileaks releases also shed details on Whitehall's fawning relationship with Washington. A 2008 cable , for example, shows then shadow foreign secretary William Hague telling the U.S. embassy that the British "want a pro-American regime. We need it. The world needs it."

A cable the following year shows the lengths to which Whitehall goes to defend the special relationship from public scrutiny. Just as the Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq War was beginning in 2009, Whitehall promised Washington that it had "put measures in place to protect your interests".

American Influence

It is not known what this protection amounted to, but no U.S. officials were called to give evidence to Chilcot in public. The inquiry was also refused permission to publish letters between former U.S. President George W. Bush and former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair written in the run-up to the war.

Also in 2009, then Prime Minister Gordon Brown raised the prospect of reducing the number of British nuclear-armed Trident submarines from four to three, a policy opposed in Washington. However, Julian Miller, an official in the UK's Cabinet Office, privately assured U.S. officials that his government "would consult with the U.S. regarding future developments concerning the Trident deterrent to assure there would be 'no daylight' between the U.S. and UK." The idea that British decision-making on Trident is truly independent of the U.S. is undermined by this cable.

The Wikileaks cables are rife with examples of British government duplicity of the kind I've extensively come across in my own research on UK declassified files. In advance of the British-NATO bombing campaign in Libya in March 2011, for example, the British government pretended that its aim was to prevent Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's attacks on civilians and not to overthrow him.

However, Wikileaks files released in 2016 as part of its Hillary Clinton archive show William Burns, then the U.S. deputy secretary of state, having talked with now Foreign Secretary Hague about a "post-Qaddafi" Libya . This was more than three weeks before military operations began. The intention was clearly to overthrow Gaddafi, and the UN resolution about protecting civilians was simply window dressing.

Another case of British duplicity concerns Diego Garcia, the largest island in the Chagos archipelago in the Indian Ocean, which is now a major U.S. base for intervention in the Middle East. The UK has long fought to prevent Chagos islanders from returning to their homeland after forcibly removing them in the 1960s.

A secret 2009 cable shows that a particular ruse concocted by Whitehall to promote this was the establishment of a " marine reserve " around the islands. A senior Foreign Office official told the US that the "former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve."

A B-1B Lancer unleashes cluster munitions. The B-1B uses radar and inertial navigation equipment enabling aircrews to operate without the need for ground-based navigation aids. (U.S. Air Force photo)

A week before the "marine reserve" proposal was made to the U.S. in May 2009, then UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband was also conniving with the U.S., apparently to deceive the public. A cable reveals Miliband helping the U.S. to sidestep a ban on cluster bombs and keep the weapons at U.S. bases on UK soil, despite Britain signing the international treaty banning the weapons the previous year.

Miliband approved a loophole created by diplomats to allow U.S. cluster bombs to remain on UK soil and was part of discussions on how the loophole would help avert a debate in Parliament that could have "complicated or muddied" the issue. Critically, the same cable also revealed that the U.S. was storing cluster munitions on ships based at Diego Garcia.

Spying on the UK

Cables show the US spying on the Foreign Office and collecting information on British ministers. Soon after the appointment of Ivan Lewis as a junior foreign minister in 2009, U.S. officials were briefing the office of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about rumors that he was depressed and had a reputation as a bully, and on " the state of his marriage. "

Washington was also shown to have been spying on the UK mission to the UN, along with other members of the Security Council and the UN Secretary General.

In addition, Wikileaks cables reveal that journalists and the public are considered legitimate targets of UK intelligence operations. In October 2009, Joint Services Publication 440 , a 2,400-page restricted document written in 2001 by the Ministry of Defence, was leaked. Somewhat ironically, it contained instructions for the security services on to avid leaks of information by hackers , journalists and foreign spies.

Millions worldwide are demanding the release of Wikileaks founder Assange after six years of what the UN calls "arbitrary detention." (New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

The document refers to investigative journalists as "threats" alongside subversive and terrorist organizations, noting that "the 'enemy' is unwelcome publicity of any kind, and through any medium."

Britain's GCHQ is also revealed to have spied on Wikileaks itself – and its readers. One classified GCHQ document from 2012 shows that GCHQ used its surveillance system to secretly collect the IP addresses of visitors to the Wikileaks site in real time, as well as the search terms that visitors used to reach the site from search engines such as Google.

Championing Free Nedua

The British government is punishing Assange for the service that Wikileaks has performed. It is ignoring a UN ruling that he is being held in " arbitrary detention " at the Ecuadorian embassy, while failing, illegally, to ensure his health needs are met. Whitehall is also refusing to offer diplomatic assurances that Assange will not be extradited to the US – the only reason he remains in the embassy.

Smear campaigns have portrayed Assange as a sexual predator or a Russian agent, often in the same media that have benefitted from covering Wikileaks' releases.

Many journalists and activists who are perfectly aware of the fake news in some Western media outlets, and of the smear campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn , are ignoring or even colluding in the more vicious smearing of Assange.

More journalists need to champion the service Wikileaks performs and argue for what is at stake for a free media in the right to expose state secrets.

This article originally appeared on Middle East Eye.

Mark Curtis is an historian and analyst of UK foreign policy and international development and the author of six books, the latest being an updated edition of Secret Affairs: Britain's Collusion with Radical Islam.

[Oct 27, 2018] I very much want to stop using Amazon, but where's the alternative?

Notable quotes:
"... I buy less, and I buy better ..."
Oct 27, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Are Wal-mart or ebay any better? Do they provide less information to the national security establishment? .

Seamus Padraig , October 27, 2018 at 7:45 am

I very much want to stop using Amazon, but where's the alternative? Does anybody here know of a good work-around? I already avoid Google by using DuckDuckGo, and I am in the process of shifting my Fakebook stuff to VK. But what alternative to Amazon exists?

Louis Fyne , October 27, 2018 at 9:14 am

there are alternatives, brick/mortars, ebay, jet.com, a brand's own website, etc. you could even go to alibaba and import all the stuff you need by the pallet.

The issue is alternatives that don't cost more. Acting on one's principles has a price.

Amazon's $25 free shipping (for non-Prime customers, free 2-day for Prime) on everything it sells/fulfills is really tough to be beat. Impossible on heavy and/or bulky items.

That's Amazon's secret weapon (anti-competitive monopolistic behavior).

Using its profits from its AWS cloud services arm to subsidize its retail arm.

Who would've predicted in 1999 that a bookseller would be one of the biggest players in internet infrastructure?

cnchal , October 27, 2018 at 9:40 am

> I very much want to stop using Amazon, . . . But what alternative to Amazon exists?

So helpless in the face of a totalitarian nightmare? Go to a store and use cash that you have never used a credit card at.

I see a facial recognition arms race in the making, where it starts off with the peasants wearing funny hats with dangly frills hanging down from the brim, with the end point being total face masks with sun glasses and putting a pebble into alternate shoes when in public.

Unless Bezos and the police decide doing that is illegal.

danpaco , October 27, 2018 at 11:49 am

The banning of the niqab/burka is the first step to making it illegal.

ChiGal in Carolina , October 27, 2018 at 3:01 pm

What's the pebble for?

lambert strether , October 27, 2018 at 3:27 pm

Gait can be used to identify you

Quanka , October 27, 2018 at 9:55 am

You have to go cold turkey. It will force you to find better retailers, but they exist and can be found. I dropped AMZ cold a couple years ago – I think its the only way. The way I think about it is that post-Amazon, I buy less, and I buy better . Most of the items I purchased on Amazon previously are gone now. The stuff I buy from other retailers directly is higher quality and lasts.

I live in a urban environment, so easier for me than someone in a rural area.

Scott1 , October 27, 2018 at 3:26 pm

You are right about that, that it is easier to not be using Amazon in an urban place. In the small town I live in places have been disappearing. Well I particularly miss Radio Shack.

Then I'm a hypocrite in that I self published using Amazon's KDP & Createspace. Createspace people on the phone were simply awesome. It is just gone now. I knew it was too good to last. My stuff is apparently still for sale, but I can't find in the system where everything was "migrated" the list of what I did and what may or may not have sold. I can't buy my own books in fact.

Amazon has become such a monopoly that they really can be lazy.
At various times in my life I have fit every damned profile, the "Shed Man" profile, yeah, I fit that one. But you know that laziness doesn't mean you are protected from them. Some political group becomes outraged at your group and BlamO, you and everyone else is rounded up and shot at the lip of a ditch. They know enough.

It is books from which the ideas come and collect evidence of your being so it is less the wonder that Amazon became so powerful. Sure you may know how to make arrows and be a great hunter for the tribe, but you are the ideas from being raised on the stories of the tribe more than just an arrow maker. If you read all the books in my reading list you'd think about things from the same viewpoint aye?

Old hippie? Well the thing is you discover who you are and want to declare it, for some reason, probably so you won't feel alone. I was truly shocked to discover I was a Beat, for instance.

Merf , October 27, 2018 at 9:57 am

We go to actual stores – remember them? Like people did for a couple of hundred plus years. Not chains or big box either. Many deliver even if they do not advertise it. An aquaintance is wheelchair bound and she asked our local natural foods store if they deliver and they said not rountinely but for people who cannot get out we certainly will. You must ask. If I cannot get it at a local store we generally do without. It's not that hard. If you are too busy you need to eliminate something you are doing. No one is forcing you online.

oh , October 27, 2018 at 9:59 am

If you do a search for any item you want to buy you will get many hits on other sellers, not just amazon. In many cases the prices at other sites are cheaper than amazon, Yes, there are so many alternatives but you just have to look for them.

One more thing, Amazon hangs on to your credit card details!

ChiGal in Carolina , October 27, 2018 at 2:47 pm

All online retailers do if you let them. Always check out as a guest, NEVER let them (or your browser, which will ask in a pop up) keep your payment info. I think you can't prevent them from knowing your unique device identifier but don't let them retain anything else.

Like not using Amazon, it's a little more inconvenient to have to enter your data every time, but remember, it's YOUR data and that's the only way to hang onto it.

Since Amazon dominates search results even on DDG, I may look at products on their site but then I go to the actual manufacturer or any other store but Walmart–also on my do not touch list for probably over a decade.

I don't have a lot of money and I do tend to buy "quality", but as someone above said, I just get less stuff!

We are not yet COMPLETELY helpless in the face of the surveillance state and once they freeze our accounts and declare cash worthless, we are all Handmaids, but until then the choice to value freedom or convenience lies entirely within our control.

ambrit , October 27, 2018 at 3:07 pm

Along with Handmaids, there are also Valkyries.
Be strong.

lyman alpha blob , October 27, 2018 at 10:54 am

If you are actually serious with this question, and it's kind of hard to believe that you are, then I will reiterate what others have said – they have these things called stores now.

lambert strether , October 27, 2018 at 3:30 pm

Four hour round trip to the mall, three hour round trip to the hardware store.

Of course, I don't own a car

kgw , October 27, 2018 at 8:25 am

All your portals belong to us!! The Über Portal!!

Hat tip to Admiral Poindexter -- all hail!

https://www.villagevoice.com/2002/12/17/the-death-of-operation-tips/

thoughtful person , October 27, 2018 at 8:36 am

It's more work, but you can find the same items from different vendors, in most cases at the same price. That's not counting the value to you of making the predictive data base on your future behavior a bit less accurate.

I've stopped using a kindle and never would take notes with one.

Used bookstores are highly recommended imo.

Linda Amick , October 27, 2018 at 8:54 am

I never use Amazon. When buying items online I google the item or description and perform comparison shopping. Over the years I have found that Amazon does NOT offer the best price AND many times the competitor also offers free shipping.

Annieb , October 27, 2018 at 8:55 am

Well, there are those weird old things, you know, stores. Sometimes not so convenient to be sure. Sometimes items are difficult to source, but Internet can be useful there! Also, second hand stores. And,libraries! I guess I'm lucky to live near a good one. In the broader picture, one can just stop buying it. Literally. I often look around my home and ask myself, how did I end up with all this stuff?

tegnost , October 27, 2018 at 9:41 am

and then there's this to add to the pile
https://www.seattletimes.com/business/microsoft/microsoft-president-brad-smith-defends-companys-work-with-u-s-military/
Seattle times commenters are some of the meanest people you'll ever encounter, particularly when talking about the homeless, but in this case it's all about money money money

Hepativore , October 27, 2018 at 10:51 am

I have found a work-around for Google Play for downloading apps to my device. It is called the Yalp Store. It works by tricking Google that you are "signed in" and so it lets you download apps that are free on the Google store through a generic account through a backdoor without handing Google any information whatsoever. You can get it on the F-Droid app repository for android devices.

I have tried to minimize my contact with Google, Amazon, and Facebook as possible. I have never had a Facebook account, and I buy several-year-old smartphones for cheap on eBay and then instal LineageOS on them to get rid of Google and its bloatware.

The trouble is, many apps that are useful are only available through Google play or Amazon. There is also the fact that buying things that are rare or foreign are not always easy to find in local brick and mortar stores, so you often have no choice. There is eBay, but I would rather buy the them outright rather than be forced to bid on it and wait for days only to be beaten by "snipers" who sneak in and place bids at the last minute.

ChiGal in Carolina , October 27, 2018 at 2:58 pm

Thanks for sharing!

One question: Where does the app send the data it gathers from you once it is on your device? You can use a generic login but still don't they recognize your unique device identifier?

William Hunter Duncan , October 27, 2018 at 11:27 am

I remember during the Obama era, wailing to my liberal friends about his facilitation of a total surveillance state, to the inevitable yawn or justification by way of His Elegance, he would never do anything to hurt us. Of course, my conservative friends were all assured Obama was going to enter their homes and take away their guns.

Then Trump was elected, and I stopped asking my liberal friends how they feel about such a total surveillance state now, they would get so worked up about .Russia? My conservative friends seemingly happy to have a total surveillance state to keep a check on the liberal mob.

Sometimes I think most Americans are totalitarian, insofar as we have forgotten the meaning of "Republic" and "Democracy", conflating capitalism and freedom, following the powerful unquestioning, excusing atrocity, as long as it appears partisan.

Well, i have maybe a million words online .but for awhile now, my only online footprint of opinion is here among the Naked Capitalism commentariat. But I don't worry about it too much, because the powerful don't care what I say unless a lot of people are listening.

griffen , October 27, 2018 at 11:33 am

Is it evil to be kinda glad that Amzn has traded lower this month ( equities can be volatile ?? )

The future may not be here but it's on the way. Skynet or the Weyland Corp may be fictional in name only it's appearing to me.

Jeremy Grimm , October 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm

Suppose government surveillance is more ubiquitous than your most paranoid imaginings -- in other words you're not being paranoid at all and you're simply not paranoid enough. It might be wise to avoid having no presence or limited presence in the surveillance data. The lack of data could also be detected and used as a measure for pre-crime inclinations. Perhaps it were better to maintain a carefully manicured and tended web and media persona. Maybe run a spider built to create that presence. Enough chaff in a false presence might confound even the best surveillance algorithms.

Hepativore , October 27, 2018 at 2:29 pm

There is an add-on you can download for Firefox and a few other web browsers called Adnauseum. It is based on uBlock. What it does is opens any ads it finds on web pages while blocking them at the same time to simulate a "click" on the ad. This way, it can potentially give headaches to data collectors because of all of the intentional data pollution it causes. Adnauseum angered Google so much that they blocked it from their Chrome store.

Then there is another idea I had for the tech companies intent on pushing spying devices like Echo and Alexa into people's homes. What if you got a bunch of them together or had a group of people buy them. Put said devices next to a radio on "scan" or some other broadcast to play random media. If enough people did this, I wonder if that would generate enough gobbledygook to throw off Amazon and Google from all of the worthless data it would generate.

It is just a thought. However, I would not put it past Silicone Valley to develop and start promoting GPS tracking microchips that companies could implant into their employees. I know that some places are trying to push RFID chips for people, so I fear that GPS tracking implants are not that far off.

ambrit , October 27, 2018 at 3:02 pm

RFID chips can function as tracking devices. Like cell phones 'shaking hands' with nearby cell towers. The unspoken eventuality is how these RFID chips will be activated; when, where and by who.
The Ur tracking chip reference. "The President's Analyst."
The 'Future' is Now: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUa3np4CKC4

Bobby Gladd , October 27, 2018 at 3:50 pm

Yeah, Robert Scheer. His book is a must-read . Add digital exhaust analytics to the "ordinary" forensics that swiftly collared that hapless Cesar Sayoc "#MAGAbomber" dude, well

[Oct 27, 2018] Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media 'Just the Beginning,' Warns Top Neocon Insider

Oct 27, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

BM , Oct 27, 2018 9:25:05 AM | link

This could hit MoA soon:

Facebook Censorship of Alternative Media 'Just the Beginning,' Warns Top Neocon Insider

The first stage is social media censorship. The next stage is the total blocking of websites offering alternative news to the MSM. This is by far the most dangerous threat to individual freedom.

The intenet addressing system is controlled at the top by the US military (and always was). The ultimate arbiter for any internet address lookup is in the US InterNIC system (owned and controlled by the US military), to which all the national domain name registries defer. By manipulating or falsifying lookup data they can block international access to any website in the world (including covertly). US/UK censorship is going to rapidly expand over the very near future, as the West moves to ever more suppressionist policies. We urgently need a new internet addressing infrastructure with a capability to bypass the US structures and allow any internet access that might be blocked by the US, before alternative media outlets are totally silenced.

There are vague references in the alternate media from time to time of Russian/Chinese initiatives to develop an alternative infrastructure, but I have not seen anything specific. I don't know how advanced these projects are, or whether they are intended for use from anywhere in the world or only internally in the officially participating countries.

Under the current internet system, the local user uses configurable numerical addresses as local address lookup under TCP/IP (Name Server) - ISPs normally try to set this to their own servers through their installation software, but you can also set it manually to some other name server that you find more reliable. For example, many ISPs illegally block certain websites by sabotaging the address lookup on their own name server (i.e. it does not match the data held by the official registry for the domain name) with false data (I have seen this done many times to my own website, both my own ISP and other people's ISP; it blocks email based on the blocked domain name at the same time, or the block can be specific to sub-domain such as www). When you try to access the site you then get an error message from the browser. If you challenge the ISP they will be forced to correct the data, but then they may silently sabotage it again later. Instead of using your ISPs own name server, you can use any other name server that is publicly accessible (some name servers might not be accessible from a different ISP, but many are accessible to anyone). A good solution is often a name server belonging to a local (or non-local!) university. Sometimes you might find you then get more reliable access to non-mainstream websites, and fewer browser errors (address not found).

What I would like to see Russia/China/BRICS/SCO/etc offer ASAP is some nameserver infrastructure that can be accessed through the standard nameserver settings under TCP/IP on any computer, and which offer configurable access to the internet address lookup registries around the world without critical dependence on the US controlled InterNIC database.

Numerical internet addresses (IP addresses) change from time to time. This is in itself normal. For example if MoA changes its service provider (web server), the MoA numerical IP address will be changed. The change in IP address is registered in the database stored in the registry for the .org upper level domain name in the US, and other name servers around the world regularly update their own data from that. If the US substitutes false values, any attempt to access the website can be diverted to an alternative address (sometimes a fake website!) managed by the US. Sometimes they do this even now, and then if challenged they pretend it was a "mistake". Russia/China need to provide name server infrastructure combined with user software (browser inferface) that is capable of selecting archived IP address lookup data when the most recently available data in the registry is false, selectable by date (the registry contains information on when the data was last changed). By selecting an IP address from archived data before the block, it can re-enable access to the site (as long as the website is still on the servers - if on US servers that is still under US control, but if it is on Russian servers it is not under US control).

Some websites legitimately need to be blocked - eg ISIS propaganda sites etc - the system would need to be able to block access to archived IP addresses for such legitimately blocked sites.

As I suggested some weeks ago, B really needs to prepare for possible blocking in advance - I am quite sure it will come eventually - by registering a non-US website such as moonofalabama.org.ru etc, and announcing that alternate address. When the internet is cut, it is already too late to announce the backup site! That can still be blocked by the US, but there are more ways to get around it.

[Oct 25, 2018] The Future Of Privacy In The New World Order

Oct 24, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Via InternationalMan.com,

Roughly one hundred years ago, the people who "ran things," – the drivers behind governments, big business and banking – formulated a concept which became known by a number of names, but, predominantly, as the "New World Order."

The concept was to put an end to unnecessary competition and warfare and have a central, unelected group of people run the entire world. It was not considered necessary to completely eliminate individual countries; the idea was to control them all centrally. It also didn't necessarily mean that wars would end. Warfare can be quite useful for rulers, as they provide an excellent distraction from resentment toward the leaders who impose control over a people.

Ever since that time, this same rough group of people has continued generationally. Sometimes, but not always, the family names change. Useful people are added on and less useful ones removed. But the concept itself has continued, evolved and, in fact, gained strength.

But, as yet, the process remains incomplete. Several facets to a New World Order are not yet in place. It's proven difficult to "fool all of the people all of the time," so the effort to subjugate an entire world has taken more time than originally anticipated.

An essential component of this control is the elimination of the personal holding of wealth. Whilst the leaders intend to expand their own wealth in an unlimited fashion, they seek to suppress the ability of the average person to increase his own wealth. Wealth leads to independence and independence from a New World Order is unacceptable. Wealth gives people options. They must be taught to accept being herded like cattle and being compliant, or they will become troublesome.

... ... ...

[Oct 25, 2018] Surveillance Capitalism Crosses The Line Privacy Expert Abandons Google-Backed Smart-City Project by Joseph Jankowsk

Surveillance Capitalism is nice term for STASI=line regime which became the "new normal". When we say Google we mean CIA.
Notable quotes:
"... Being touted as "the world's first neighborhood built from the internet up," the Google designed smart city is set to deploy an array of cameras and sensors that detect pedestrians at traffic lights or alert cleanup crews when garbage bins overflow, reports The Globe and Mail . Robotic vehicles will whisk away garbage in underground tunnels, heated bike lanes will melt snow and a street layout will accommodate a fleet of self-driving cars. ..."
"... Such an account could potentially work with facial recognition "and allow for example a repairman to get into a home to perform his duties and firefighters to have access a building when a fire alarm is triggered." ..."
"... The project's critics included former BlackBerry CEO Jim Balsillie who referred to the development as "a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism attempting to bulldoze important urban, civic and political issues." ..."
"... Ann Cavoukia's decision to walk away from the project was made just weeks after Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel member, Saadia Muzaffar, resigned over concerns about how Google will collect and handle data collected from people within the smart city. ..."
"... "We are at a point where a secretive, unelected, publicly funded corporation with no expertise in IP, data or even basic digital rights is in charge of navigating forces of urban privatization, algorithmic control and rule by corporate contract." ..."
Oct 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Joseph Jankowski via PlanetFreeWill.com,

A privacy expert tasked with protecting personal data within a Google-backed smart city project has resigned as her pro-privacy guidelines would largely be ignored by participants.

"I imagined us creating a Smart City of Privacy, as opposed to a Smart City of Surveillance," Ann Cavoukian, the former privacy commissioner of Ontario, wrote in a resignation letter to Google sister company Sidewalk Labs.

"I felt I had no choice because I had been told by Sidewalk Labs that all of the data collected will be de-identified at source," she added.

Cavoukian was an acting consultant involved in the plan by Canada's Waterfront Toronto to develop a smart city neighborhood in the city's Quayside development. She had created an initiative called Privacy by Design that aimed to ensure citizens' personal data would be protected.

Once it became apparent that citizen privacy could not be guaranteed, Cavoukian decided it was time to leave the project:

But then, at a Thursday meeting, Cavoukian reportedly realized such anonymization protocols could not be guaranteed. She told the Candian news outlet that Sidewalk Labs revealed at that meeting that their organization could commit to her guidelines, but other involved groups would not be required to abide by them.

Cavoukian realized third parties could possibly have access to identifiable data gathered through the project. "When I heard that, I said, 'I'm sorry. I can't support this. I have to resign because you committed to embedding privacy by design into every aspect of your operation,'" she told Global News. – Gizmodo

Being touted as "the world's first neighborhood built from the internet up," the Google designed smart city is set to deploy an array of cameras and sensors that detect pedestrians at traffic lights or alert cleanup crews when garbage bins overflow, reports The Globe and Mail . Robotic vehicles will whisk away garbage in underground tunnels, heated bike lanes will melt snow and a street layout will accommodate a fleet of self-driving cars.

The city will also provide each citizen a "user account" which will allow access to "the various online services of the neighborhood and improve participatory democracy."

Such an account could potentially work with facial recognition "and allow for example a repairman to get into a home to perform his duties and firefighters to have access a building when a fire alarm is triggered."

The project's critics included former BlackBerry CEO Jim Balsillie who referred to the development as "a colonizing experiment in surveillance capitalism attempting to bulldoze important urban, civic and political issues."

In an October op-ed, Balsillie describes smart cities as the new battlefront for big tech and warned that the commercialization of IP and data within the city would mean that personal information would just be another target of corporate digital-gold mining.

Balsillie writes :

The 21st-century knowledge-based and data-driven economy is all about IP and data. "Smart cities" are the new battlefront for big tech because they serve as the most promising hotbed for additional intangible assets that hold the next trillion dollars to add to their market capitalizations. "Smart cities" rely on IP and data to make the vast array of city sensors more functionally valuable, and when under the control of private interests, an enormous new profit pool. As Sidewalk Labs' chief executive Dan Doctoroff said : "We're in this business to make money." Sidewalk also wants full autonomy from city regulations so it can build without constraint.

You can only commercialize IP or data when you own or control them. That's why Sidewalk, as a recent Globe and Mail investigation revealed , is taking control to own all IP on this project. All smart companies know that controlling the IP controls access to the data, even when it's shared data. Stunningly, when Waterfront Toronto released its "updated" agreement, they left the ownership of IP and data unresolved, even though IP experts publicly asserted that ownership of IP must be clarified up front or it defaults to Sidewalk. Securing new monopoly IP rights coupled with the best new data sets creates a systemic market advantage from which companies can inexorably expand.

A privately controlled "smart city" infrastructure upends traditional models of citizenship because you cannot opt out of a city or a society that practises mass surveillance. Foreign corporate interests tout new technocratic efficiencies while shrewdly occluding their unprecedented power grab. As the renowned technologist Evgeny Morozov said : "That the city is also the primary target of big tech is no accident: If these firms succeed in controlling its infrastructure, they need not to worry about much else."

Ann Cavoukia's decision to walk away from the project was made just weeks after Waterfront Toronto's Digital Strategy Advisory Panel member, Saadia Muzaffar, resigned over concerns about how Google will collect and handle data collected from people within the smart city.

Saadia Muzaffar specifically pointed to "Waterfront Toronto's astounding apathy and utter lack of leadership regarding shaky public trust and social licence."

Local residents remain concerned over the lack of transparency in regards to the project as many believe the deal has been shrouded in secrecy. As Jim Balsillie described it:

"We are at a point where a secretive, unelected, publicly funded corporation with no expertise in IP, data or even basic digital rights is in charge of navigating forces of urban privatization, algorithmic control and rule by corporate contract."

Barry McBear, 2 hours ago
Getting rid of facebook was easy, but de-googling my life is going to be a real pain in the ***. One that clearly must be done though.

[Oct 25, 2018] Only one of two can be smart

Google technocrats are really crazy...
Oct 25, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

HolyCOW , 1 hour ago link

Smart phones -> dumb kids

Smart City -> dumb citizens

inhibi, 1 hour ago (Edited)

Oh wow,

... ... ...

smart traffic they say? Wowsers. I always wanted those lights to turn green immediately (when Im around).

And 24/7 tracking, so they can give you personal ads on LCD billboards while you walk past.

And better yet: access to lock or unlock your front door for a 'repairman'. Yeah that will work out great. I always wanted to hand the keys to my home to outsiders for safe keeping, but now its automatic!

Amazing. What a different life we would all lead in this Smart City. /s

[Oct 23, 2018] Even anonymous cellphone connections can be geo-located with a maximum error of a few meters

Oct 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

joeymac , Oct 22, 2018 1:11:02 PM | link

All this proves that the spy-craft of the Saudi assassination team was abysmal. All cellphone networks store records of each call. Any foreign official's phone in Turkey is under surveillance of the country's intelligence service.

Only some throw-away phone with an anonymous prepaid card could have given some protection.

Perhaps some, but not much. Even anonymous cellphone connections can be geo-located with a maximum error of a few meters, so calls to Saudi Arabia from within the consulate could be noted. What more, the dim-witted Saudis probably would not have bothered with tack-on encryption devices.

[Oct 22, 2018] Facebook's New Troll-Crushing War Room Confirms Surveillance By Corporation Is The New America

Oct 22, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Facebook's New Troll-Crushing "War Room" Confirms Surveillance By Corporation Is The New America

by Tyler Durden Sun, 10/21/2018 - 22:30 270 SHARES

Facebook on Wednesday briefed journalists on its latest attempt to stop fake news during the election season , offering an exclusive tour of a windowless conference room at its California headquarters, packed with millennials monitoring Facebook user behavior trends around the clock, said The Verge .

This is Facebook's first ever "war room," designed to bring leaders from 20 teams, representing 20,000 global employees working on safety and security, in one room to lead a crusade against conservatives misinformation on the platform as political campaigning shifts into hyperdrive in the final weeks leading up to November's US midterm elections. The team includes threat intelligence, data science engineering, research, legal, operations, policy, communications, and representatives from Facebook and Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram.

"We know when it comes to an election, every moment counts," said Samidh Chakrabarti, head of civic engagement at Facebook, who oversees operations in the war room.

"So if there are late-breaking issues we see on the platform, we need to be able to detect and respond to them in real time, as quickly as possible."

This public demonstration of Facebook's internal efforts comes after a series of security breaches and user hacks, dating back to the 2016 presidential elections. Since the announcement of the Cambridge Analytics privacy scandal in March, Facebook shares have plunged -14.5% It seems the war room is nothing more than a public relations stunt, which the company is desperately trying to regain control of the narrative and avoid more negative headlines.

The war room is staffed with millennials from 4 am until midnight, and starting on Oct. 22, social media workers will be monitoring trends 24/7 leading up to the elections. Leaders from 20 teams will be present in the room. Workers will use machine learning and artificial intelligence programs to monitor the platform for trends, hate speech, sophisticated trolls, fake news, and of course, Russian, Chinese, and Iranian interference.

me title=

Nathan Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity, told CNBC the company wants fair elections, and that "debate around the election be authentic. ... The biggest concern is any type of effort to manipulate that."

In the first round of presidential elections in Brazil, Facebook's war room identified an effort to suppress voter turnout:

"Content that was telling people that due to protest, that the election would be delayed a day," said Chakrabarti. "This was not true, completely false. So we were able to detect that using AI and machine learning. The war room was alerted to it. Our data scientist looked into what was behind it and then they passed it to our engineers and operations specialist to be able to remove this at scale from our platform before it could go viral."

The war room has been focused on the US and Brazilian elections because it says misinformation in elections is a global problem that never ends. Gleicher warns that Facebook is observing an increased effort to manipulate the public debate ahead of US midterms.

me title=

"Part of the reason we have this war room up and running, is so that as these threats develop, not only do we respond to them quickly, but we continue to speed up our response, and make our response more effective and efficient." Gleicher adds that it is not just foreign interference but also domestic "bad actors" who are hiding their identity, using fake accounts to spread misinformation.

"This is always going to be an arms race, so the adversaries that we're facing who seek to meddle in elections, they are sophisticated and well-funded," said Chakrabarti.

"That is the reason we've made huge investments both in people and technology to stay ahead and secure our platforms."

Big Brother is watching you: surveillance by corporations is the new America.


Sid Davis , 2 hours ago link

One of the privileges granted to corporations under State laws is the limitation of liabilities as to shareholders. If you operate a business as a sole proprietor or as one of the partners in a general partnership, then you can personally be sued for the unpaid debts or other liabilities arising from the operation of the business. But if you are an owner of a corporation, which is what shareholders are, then you have no personal liability and can't be held accountable for the unpaid debts or other liabilities arising from the operation of the corporation.

This limited liability privilege is what is wrong with corporations. The most you stand to lose as a shareholder is what you paid for your shares. As a result, corporations can amass a large amount of capital and when they become very large they not only damage free market competition, but they power associated with their size and importance gives them control over the political process. They can lobby and bribe politicians for laws that are favourable to themselves, and unfavourable to the rest of us. And shareholders lose control over the operation, just like your vote for politicians is relatively meaningless as a percentage of the total vote. Management takes over, just like the elite take over governments, and ethics disappear.

If shareholders of corporations did not have limited liability, the incentive to buy shares would disappear, and most businesses would be carried out by small entities; we would have a competitive "mom and pop" economy instead of a monopoly or oligopoly type economy. And with a competitive economy if one of the competitors pulled the **** that the big internet corporations pull, they would soon suffer the wrath of their customers who would have alternative places to go.

Corporate laws are just another example of government interference in the economy that produces the bad results we see today from corporatism. Corporatism is just another mechanism to create rule by the elite and slavery for the majority. The solution is to prohibit States from franchising corporations, and to use existing anti-trust laws to bust up all the big corporations.

It is sad that so many people think that corporatism is capitalism and then reach the conclusion that socialism or communism is the solution to the bad results they see today. It is not. Capitalism is a free market with no government granted privilege to any of the competitors. The only role of government in the economy is to protect rights, instead of destroying rights as they do today.

junction , 4 hours ago link

I just had to uninstall my ESET anti-virus software. It was intentionally erasing utorrent from my computer. To get to Pirate Bay, now blocked in the USA, I set my VPN to Belgium. Almost immediately, I started getting messages from my e-mail provider, MSN, asking if I was signing in from Belgium. When I make any payments via Internet banking, I have to turn off my VPN or the transaction will not be recognized. When Trump and his NWO puppeteers decide to take their gloves off, I am pretty sure my Internet connection will be on the Kill List. Just like yours, you ZH posters.

HRH of Aquitaine 2.0 , 3 hours ago link

Thanks for the info. Keep your head on a swivel.

Cryptopithicus Homme , 5 hours ago link

I am pretty sure they are NOT using "artificial intelligence programs" as no such thing exists.

Also, they can't censor you or decide what you see when you are not on Fakebook.

Jack Offelday , 5 hours ago link

On a long enough timeline the survival rate for (social media companies) drops to zero.

Normal , 6 hours ago link

That is why my description on Facebook states that if you post political information you will be unfollowed. I only allow photos of kittens and well a lot of nebulous stuff, education, and health and fitness. If they knew my ideas I would be followed by all the worlds security agencies. I am resolved to help people become Normal within the infosphere. I allow no politics because politics is Fake News and the sooner people forget about the concept the sooner they will be inclined to decentralize existing concentrations of wealth.

Md4 , 6 hours ago link

" The war room is staffed with millennials from 4 am until midnight, and starting on Oct. 22, social media workers will be monitoring trends 24/7 leading up to the elections. Leaders from 20 teams will be present in the room. Workers will use machine learning and artificial intelligence programs to monitor the platform for trends, hate speech, sophisticated trolls, fake news, and of course, Russian, Chinese, and Iranian interference."

With all this fascist (and highly provocative) techno-insanity at their disposal before the midterms...

...what, pray tell, will these pointy-headed leftist brats say about a red asshamering in November?

Their silly "war room" wasn't expansive or invasive enough...?

Sick pricks...

J S Bach , 6 hours ago link

Even the dullest people should be able to figure out that the easiest way to divulge the truth about anything is to allow ALL information to flow like a stream. Whoever's telling the lies will be discovered apace. Of course, FaceBook, Google, Twitter and all of the other corporate entities know this. And they also know who the (((great masters of the lie))) are. It is themselves. They are in panic mode, folks. We must kill this latest effort of (((theirs))) by simply avoiding their platforms. Use their own weapons against them... BOYCOTT. Seek alternative sites and search engines. Most importantly, spread far and wide what you know to be their ulterior motives.

WorkingClassMan , 6 hours ago link

Starve the beast...don't use Fedbook. Simple solution to a simple problem.

Bricker , 6 hours ago link

If you are using Fakebook, you deserve to be hung

LetThemEatRand , 6 hours ago link

This is what fascism looks like, bitchez. When fascism comes to America it will be draped in a t-shirt and holding an iPad.

[Oct 21, 2018] From Soft Tyranny To Totalitarian Rule America s Unrelenting Data Collection

Notable quotes:
"... More than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases – even if they have not submitted their own DNA, researchers reported Thursday. ..."
"... Enough people have done some kind of DNA test to make it possible to match much of the population, the researchers said. So even if you don't submit your own DNA, if a cousin does, it could lead people to you. ..."
"... The point here is the stupid, faddish public is dumb enough to submit the material the very DNA being used by the "trusted" authorities either out in the open or by back-door methods to round up all of the DNA for the surveillance state. ..."
"... I invite anyone to comment who has experience with a "transfer station," or other garbage collection facility, and anyone in the healthcare/hospital industry with some inside info as to their nefarious methods. You can easily see from these examples how they are hard on the trail relentless bloodhounds that have the scent of their quarry and they will not stop until everyone is categorized and monitored. Then the real fun begins. ..."
"... The same group (ELITE/DEEPSTATE) that wants this Tyranny outcome is also supporting the infighting, LGBTQ rtstuv, BLM, CODE PINK, ME TOO etc etc... They know that as long as we (the working class tax paying stiffs) think this is actually a left/right- Dem/Rep issue and keep bickering over the BS, we will never unite against the takeover of our country and begin to unite to defend our rights. ..."
Oct 21, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Walmart is interested in what's going on in your body while you shop.

The company wants to collect this data in a particularly creepy way: through the handles of their shopping carts. Walmart recently submitted a patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office called " System and Method for a Biometric Feedback Cart Handle ," CBInsights reports.

These innovative shopping cart handles would collect your biometric data, meaning your stress level, your body temperature, and heart rate -- all while you're strolling through the aisles of your local store, filling your cart with Walmart's everyday low-priced items.

The article proceeds to explain Walmart's "spin" on it is to provide a way to "check on a customer with a physical problem."

Since when has Walmart ever been concerned about anyone's physical well-being? Isn't this the company that settled out of court for millions to pay for stolen labor time and breaks from employees? Isn't this the same Walmart that twenty years ago put small stores in to break local competitors (Mom and Pop stores) in small towns and when they went belly up, closed their small Walmarts and "plopped" a Super-Walmart down in the center of where five small ones used to be? Then all the little serfs could come from miles around to service the monolith with their play money, as the local economies of the small towns died, right? Worse. Being a "too big to fail" type of business, they're deep in bed with the governments, federal and state. Simple data collection "for your own safety and well-being," right?

No. They're going to tie this data in with all of the other micro-data and metadata they are already gathering filming you with their little cameras filming Johnny Jones Junior and Daddy Jones as they pick up a box of shells for the shotgun amount and type recorded and filed next to the photos and film with their names and biometrics.

They want every piece of information on you and your family, and they're not going to stop until they have it all of it.

Article number two is even worse, as you may deduce from the title. Published by Maggie Fox of NBC News, it is entitled " DNA databases can send the police or hackers to your door, study finds ." Take a look at this excerpt:

More than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases – even if they have not submitted their own DNA, researchers reported Thursday.

Enough people have done some kind of DNA test to make it possible to match much of the population, the researchers said. So even if you don't submit your own DNA, if a cousin does, it could lead people to you.

They said their findings, published in the journal Science, raise concerns about privacy. Not only could police use this information, but so could other people seeking personal information about someone.

The article goes on to talk about Joseph DeAngelo, a former cop in California suspected of murder, and how they nabbed him by using DNA submitted by a "distant cousin" that narrowed down the list for cops on his trail. Read the article for more specifics and demographics on these DNA "commercial" test kits.

The point here is the stupid, faddish public is dumb enough to submit the material the very DNA being used by the "trusted" authorities either out in the open or by back-door methods to round up all of the DNA for the surveillance state.

I invite anyone to comment who has experience with a "transfer station," or other garbage collection facility, and anyone in the healthcare/hospital industry with some inside info as to their nefarious methods. You can easily see from these examples how they are hard on the trail relentless bloodhounds that have the scent of their quarry and they will not stop until everyone is categorized and monitored. Then the real fun begins.

To digress: this is why we must all be of one accord, and disseminate this information and take steps while there is still time. As the weeks, months, and years roll by; the hellish apparatus of what was once termed "government" becomes a machine for rule by enslavement. That machine is perfecting itself. When control is finally obtained total, unchallenged control? That's when the liquidations the killings will begin, for the ownership of the resources and for the control and enslavement of all humanity.

perikleous , 8 hours ago link

The same group (ELITE/DEEPSTATE) that wants this Tyranny outcome is also supporting the infighting, LGBTQ rtstuv, BLM, CODE PINK, ME TOO etc etc... They know that as long as we (the working class tax paying stiffs) think this is actually a left/right- Dem/Rep issue and keep bickering over the BS, we will never unite against the takeover of our country and begin to unite to defend our rights.

They the ruling ELITE have funded and played us against one another using our phobias as ammunition (gay/trans rights, racism,religious beliefs, even our political views ) used to exploit us and keep us infighting to avoid the true threat Deep State/ELITE ruling class!

OverTheHedge , 6 hours ago link

What are you getting out of all this? Seriously - are you having fun? Does your career of choice provide you with enough fulfillment to justify the extravagant costs and loss of your time? Being single, (and I assume young), you can go anywhere in the world, do any job, be any person you wish to be. Joint the French foreign legion, watch whales from a tourist charter boat, become a fish and vegitables farmer in Vietnam - if you can think of it, you can do it.

So again - your current lifestyle - what's in it for YOU? Are you having fun yet?

My personal recommendation would be to move out of the city, buy a plot of land and hand build your own house, slowly, using the raw materials from your land. Work when you have to, learn mad skills that become tradeable, grow your own food. Anyone can do it, and back in the day EVERYONE used to do it. But do some travelling first, to wrap your head around how big the world is, and how irrelevant governments and rules are.

Oh, and never take unsolicited advice from strangers on the internet. That's first on the list.

brooklinite8 , 2 hours ago link

OverTheHedge... I appreciate your advise. I have been thinking of moving out of the country all together. This thought might get a serious taking once I do some traveling like you said. I have no job satisfaction. I have no philosophy side feeding my brain here.

I feel like I am just a machine. I am thinking of traveling Asia may be next year. I will sure do it. Thanks for the advise again. I do believe there are other ways to live life. There are other ways to be satisfied and die with out a guilty feeling. Thanks alot my friend.

AlaricBalth , 1 hour ago link
And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?...

The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If...if...We didn't love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation.... We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.

Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn , The Gulag Archipelago 1918-1956

[Oct 16, 2018] Dan King and E.A. Greene

Notable quotes:
"... Stalin was a leader ahead of his time, with his relatively benign surveillance state plans, compared to those of the "Free" world. ..."
Oct 16, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

October 16, 2018

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?app_id=347697165243043&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2Fr%2FtrnHszv6jVd.js%3Fversion%3D42%23cb%3Df1fc6d9b48e7b9b%26domain%3Dwww.theamericanconservative.com%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%252Ff1715404b434fd7%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=0&font=lucida%20grande&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Farticles%2Fthanks-to-government-that-road-sign-might-be-watching-you%2F&layout=button_count&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&send=true&show_faces=false&width=125

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/tweet_button.d547ddd75cc4ca7cc5a63b70da3da301.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-0&lang=en&original_referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Farticles%2Fthanks-to-government-that-road-sign-might-be-watching-you%2F&related=amconmag&size=m&text=Thanks%20to%20Government%2C%20That%20Road%20Sign%20Might%20Be%20Watching%20You%20%7C%20The%20American%20Conservative&time=1539730689591&type=share&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Farticles%2Fthanks-to-government-that-road-sign-might-be-watching-you%2F&via=amconmag

https://apis.google.com/se/0/_/+1/fastbutton?usegapi=1&size=medium&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Farticles%2Fthanks-to-government-that-road-sign-might-be-watching-you%2F&gsrc=3p&ic=1&jsh=m%3B%2F_%2Fscs%2Fapps-static%2F_%2Fjs%2Fk%3Doz.gapi.en_US.zqeZRrLWCek.O%2Fam%3DwQ%2Frt%3Dj%2Fd%3D1%2Frs%3DAGLTcCPv3H0D2jF0uRhEjfC8YwW5TyaZnQ%2Fm%3D__features__#_methods=onPlusOne%2C_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe%2C_renderstart%2Concircled%2Cdrefresh%2Cerefresh&id=I0_1539730689501&_gfid=I0_1539730689501&parent=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com&pfname=&rpctoken=45003301

Credit: reddees/Shutterstock Should each and every intersection you stop at or drive through be a potential federal surveillance site? The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) certainly seems to think so. The DEA is currently expanding its use of license plate readers (LPRs) in digital road signs, which is sure to have an impact on drivers' basic expectation of privacy.

The agency sees this program as a collaboration between "federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement license plate readers" to curb the actions of drug traffickers, money launderers, and other criminals. The agency installs these cameras in digital street signs on roads that it believes are popular with lawbreakers.

Such actions are not unique to the DEA. Police agencies share the data they obtain from LPRs with hundreds of different local, state, and federal agencies. These agencies range from police departments to Customs and Border Patrol to the U.S. Park Service to the U.S. Postal Service. For example, the San Diego Police Department is reportedly sharing its license plate data with around 900 different federal, state, and local agencies.

Before these agencies can use their LPRs, though, the roads they select must have use for the signs in which they are installed. Daniel Herriges, an urban planner and content manager at Strong Towns, observes that "road design is, in fact, often the biggest underlying cause of unsafe speed in cities." Because traffic engineers design roads to be forgiving, it creates the perception that they are less risky. Motorists then respond "by driving faster or less attentively," Herriges says.

In response to such unsafe driving, communities like Albuquerque, New Mexico, have been requesting traffic calming and enforcement measures through safe street initiatives, including signs that warn drivers. This unwittingly provides an outlet for data collection.

Herriges suggests that rather than increase enforcement, roads should be rethought entirely. "Addressing speed through design rather than through enforcement carries numerous advantages," he says. "For one, it's more effective -- studies consistently show that most drivers disregard posted speed limits." That means traffic engineering could be the best defense of Fourth Amendment rights in terms of license plate data collection -- except, of course, for a constitutional challenge in court.

No federal or state courts have made any rulings on the constitutionality of an LPR program as vast as the DEA's. Instead, the judiciary has ruled that "single-instance database checks of license plate numbers" do not constitute searches under the Fourth Amendment. The courts have argued this is the case because license plates are in "plain view." However, the DEA's massive database, and the sharing they engage in with other agencies, clearly exceed the "single-instance" that courts have ruled constitutional.

"Law enforcement likes to claim that because license plates are in public view that creating massive ALPR networks aren't very different than stationing cops at certain locations and having them write down the information by hand," said Dave Maass, senior investigative researcher at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "So far, there haven't been many challenges to this in the courts, except on the state level. That said, policymakers have been pursuing (and passing) new restrictions on both sides of the aisle."

Baltimore's Failed Surveillance Regime To Make Streets Safe, Make Them Dangerous

Similar to the National Security Agency's vast metadata collection program, the sharing of license plate information can paint a very holistic picture of who a person is and what their day-to-day life looks like. It can be as mundane as a person visiting his parents or it can be more intrusive -- local police could share the data of everyone who visits a certain immigration lawyer with Customs and Border Patrol, for example.

"I am definitely concerned that agencies may target people by searching ALPR data for visitors to immigration lawyers, medical clinics serving undocumented people, churches specializing in foreign-language services, or locations where day laborers gather," Maass said. He added that DHS routinely uses "questionable tactics" when detaining undocumented immigrants.

The DEA expanding its LPR program would further erode Americans' basic expectation of privacy, and do nothing to make America's streets any safer. It's time to stop throwing more money and resources at the failed war on drugs.

Dan King is a Young Voices contributor, journalist, and digital communications professional based in Arlington, Virginia. His work has appeared at Reason , , The Week and the Washington Examiner .

Ethan A. Greene is a Young Voices alumnus and master's student of City and Regional Planning at Clemson University. His writing has appeared in Strong Towns, Planetizen, Spiked!, and the Washington Times .



Frank D October 16, 2018 at 1:27 pm

The biggest waste of tax payers' money everywhere are speed limit signs. Nobody pays any attention to them unless you see a police vehicle.
Fran Macadam , , October 16, 2018 at 2:31 pm
Stalin was a leader ahead of his time, with his relatively benign surveillance state plans, compared to those of the "Free" world.

Only in his dreams -- or the United States and its clients.

Waz , , October 16, 2018 at 2:52 pm
Don't underestimate the gravity of yet another ominous sign of times. Ever since the first street cameras appeared the specter of totalitarian control has loomed large.

That moment brought into sharp focus concern that the technology that enables unlimited storage and instant access to data could quickly become the tool of total control, too tempting to any form of government and transform it into a totalitarian monster.

I was shocked by how virtually no resistance emerged, no serious, principled objections were raised. Now, we are rapidly progressing into the next stage. If conservatism stands for anything, this is the hill to die on. Comrades frogs, water's getting warmer, high time to jump out!

[Oct 12, 2018] 'Land of censorship home of the fake' Alternative voices on Facebook and Twitter's crackdown

Normal people do not browse Facebook, anyway.
Notable quotes:
"... "misleading users." ..."
"... Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter's coordinated 'deplatforming' of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. "Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content...are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed," he wrote. "That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history." ..."
"... "a wider war on dissident narratives in online media." ..."
"... "eyes and ears" ..."
Oct 12, 2018 | www.rt.com

Alternative voices online are incensed after Facebook and Twitter closed down hundreds of political media pages ahead of November's crucial midterm elections. Facebook says they broke its spam rules, they say it's censorship. Some 800 pages spanning the political spectrum, from left-leaning organizations like The Anti Media, to flag-waving opinion sites like Right Wing News and Nation in Distress, were shut down. Other pages banned include those belonging to police brutality watchdog groups Filming Cops and Policing the Police.

Even RT America's Rachel Blevins found her own page banned for posts that were allegedly "misleading users."

Journalist Glenn Greenwald hit out at those on the left who cheered Facebook and Twitter's coordinated 'deplatforming' of right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones in August. "Those who demanded Facebook & other Silicon Valley giants censor political content...are finding that content that they themselves support & like end up being repressed," he wrote. "That's what has happened to every censorship advocate in history."

In America, Conservatives were the first to complain about unfair treatment by left-leaning Silicon Valley tech giants. However, leftist sites have increasingly become targets in what Blumenthal calls "a wider war on dissident narratives in online media." In identifying enemies in this "war," Facebook has partnered up with the Digital Forensics Lab, an offshoot of NATO-sponsored think tank the Atlantic Council. The DFL has promised to be Facebook's "eyes and ears" in the fight against disinformation (read: alternative viewpoints).

[Oct 12, 2018] Like the values and rules that led the NSA to eavesdrop on Chancellor Merkel's phone calls for years, and to use American Embassies as listening posts. Mutti Merkel was very understanding, considering they were only doing it to keep us all safe.

Oct 12, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

Mark Chapman October 4, 2018 at 11:02 am

"the GRU's disregard for global values and rules that keep us all safe".

Like the values and rules that led the NSA to eavesdrop on Chancellor Merkel's phone calls for years, and to use American Embassies as listening posts. Mutti Merkel was very understanding, considering they were only doing it to keep us all safe.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/cover-story-how-nsa-spied-on-merkel-cell-phone-from-berlin-embassy-a-930205.html

The British and the Dutch – and doubtless all America's many 'allies' – have no real pride left. They just keep bending over further.

[Oct 07, 2018] Jeff Bezos, Skinflint

Oct 07, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Jeff Bezos, Skinflint By Rod DreherOctober 4, 2018, 7:39 AM

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?app_id=347697165243043&channel=https%3A%2F%2Fstaticxx.facebook.com%2Fconnect%2Fxd_arbiter%2Fr%2FtrnHszv6jVd.js%3Fversion%3D42%23cb%3Df1abb57d2ff913c%26domain%3Dwww.theamericanconservative.com%26origin%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%252Ff161e90e36c72a%26relation%3Dparent.parent&container_width=0&font=lucida%20grande&href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Fdreher%2Fjeff-bezos-skinflint%2F&layout=button_count&locale=en_US&sdk=joey&send=true&show_faces=false&width=125

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets/tweet_button.d8c3ececb2f3e7c69df1a2b5ba9241a5.en.html#dnt=false&id=twitter-widget-1&lang=en&original_referer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Fdreher%2Fjeff-bezos-skinflint%2F&related=amconmag&size=m&text=Jeff%20Bezos%2C%20Skinflint%20%7C%20The%20American%20Conservative&time=1538885736429&type=share&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Fdreher%2Fjeff-bezos-skinflint%2F&via=amconmag

https://apis.google.com/se/0/_/+1/fastbutton?usegapi=1&size=medium&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com%2Fdreher%2Fjeff-bezos-skinflint%2F&gsrc=3p&ic=1&jsh=m%3B%2F_%2Fscs%2Fapps-static%2F_%2Fjs%2Fk%3Doz.gapi.en_US.WauwVQh0Qeo.O%2Fam%3DwQ%2Frt%3Dj%2Fd%3D1%2Frs%3DAGLTcCN79Vbq9koNumXO38gRllPOcgqDog%2Fm%3D__features__#_methods=onPlusOne%2C_ready%2C_close%2C_open%2C_resizeMe%2C_renderstart%2Concircled%2Cdrefresh%2Cerefresh&id=I0_1538885736014&_gfid=I0_1538885736014&parent=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.theamericanconservative.com&pfname=&rpctoken=61191857

Marina Linchevska/Shutterstock You see that Amazon established a minimum wage of $15 per hour for its workers? Great, right?

Here's the fine print:

Amazon.com Inc. is eliminating monthly bonuses and stock awards for warehouse workers and other hourly employees after the company pledged this week to raise pay to at least $15 an hour.

Warehouse workers for the e-commerce giant in the U.S. were eligible in the past for monthly bonuses that could total hundreds of dollars per month as well as stock awards, said two people familiar with Amazon's pay policies. The company informed those employees Wednesday that it's eliminating both of those compensation categories to help pay for the raises, the people said.

Amazon received plaudits when it announced Monday that the company would raise its minimum pay. The pay increase warded off criticism from politicians and activists, and put the company in a good position to recruit temporary workers for the important holiday shopping season.

Even after the elimination of bonuses and stock awards, hourly operations and customer-service workers will see their total compensation increase, the company said in a statement.

Some Amazon workers say they will be financially worse off under the new plan.

Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, worth $160 billion. The second-richest man, Bill Gates, has $63 billion less.

UPDATE: Reader ADL comments:

I work at a Amazon fulfillment center. A couple of things:
1) Amazon didn't just decide to end the bonuses/"stock options" compensation. They surveyed warehouse workers and we voted for money up front. Bonuses only got paid if A) warehouses meet certain production numbers (a lot of people don't like having our compensation based on the work habits of OTHERS), and B) it was based on employee attendance record (if you were out or late a lot, you didn't get bonus). The stock we got awarded didn't "vest" for a year. Those who quit or got fired before their year was up never got to cash in their stock option.

2) Those of us who've worked in warehousing can tell you that working at Amazon is WAY better than other places. The benefits are excellent (we qualify for health care insurance the first month of employment; this insurance is good and cheap compared to other companies), plus other great benefits. The $15/hr is the icing on the cake.

Plus it's freakin' Amazon– there are opportunities to move up (one of the operations managers at my fulfillment center began as a temp at Amazon 4 years ago), or into other areas of logistics (if this is your professional field).

So don't knock Amazon. It's an amazing company– certainly compared to the competition.

Posted in Culture , Economics . Tagged Amazon , Jeff Bezos , minimum wage . MORE FROM THIS AUTHOR

29-0. Almost 8 PM Central Time The Charity of Our Saudi Pals Hide 72 comments 72 Responses to Jeff Bezos, Skinflint ← Older Comments

Some Wag October 4, 2018 at 2:21 pm

b. said:
"I am curious to see Sanders' next move. If he just "moves on", it would be an educational moment."

Link for those similarly curious: https://www.foxbusiness.com/retail/bernie-sanders-reacts-to-amazon-slashing-stock-incentive-bonuses-for-hourly-workers

JWJ , says: October 4, 2018 at 2:39 pm
"Jeff Bezos, Skinflint".

Let me be a little contrarian. And this from a person who is not particularly fond of the leftist propaganda coming from the Bezos/Amazon Washington Post

Why should Amazon pay any of their 300K plus employees significantly higher than the market wage for that particular job? Amazon is NOT a charity.
Now, Amazon might decide to pay a bit higher than the market in certain jobs due to the value of retaining employees. Avoiding employee turnover.

Also, NO PERSON is forced to work for Amazon. If an adult does NOT like the conditions/pay/benefits/hours at Amazon, they are free to leave.

Before you and other commenters slam Bezos as a skinflint or any other nasty name you want to throw out there from your mighty high-horse, why don't you go out and start a business and pay your workers greater than market.

Also, agree with Haigha at 10/4/18 9:46am

REJ , says: October 4, 2018 at 2:41 pm
I encourage people not to buy from Amazon and patronize brick and mortar businesses instead. Bezos is seeking to monopolize all retail transactions and the loss of local stores puts everyone at risk of eventually having to pay whatever price he decides to set. It is the WalMart model on uber steroids. Don't give this man your money.
Ryan W , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:01 pm
"Consumer welfare is maximized when a business keeps its costs, including labor costs, as low as possible. If a business pays its employees more than the lowest price the market will bear for the type of workers they want to attract, it will be (i) paying them more than their marginal product, (ii) screwing its customers, (iii) making itself vulnerable to competitors, and (iv) acting as a charity rather than as a business."

This is the "Economics 101" version. No serious economist would take it as a fair representation of the real economy. The idea that employees will be paid their marginal product only applies, even in theory, to perfectly competitive markets. The trouble is that labour markets are, on average, even further from the perfect competition model than other markets. Any time there's market power, which Amazon has in spades, the perfect competition model won't apply. Unless you're talking about the sale of oranges or toilet paper, any economic model derived from the perfect competition assumption has to be taken with a gallon of salt.

RH , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:26 pm
I've been working at Whole Foods for year, so I'm in the lucky bunch of people who will see a big impact from this raise.

The notion that Amazon is just giving money away is hogwash. When the Prime discount program started this summer, my cashier job got MUCH more complicated and continues to be.

We're tasked with educating customers about the program, educating the Prime members in how to access it, and serving as tech support for those who can't figure out the app, all without making the transaction take too long.

We've been open to abuse from customers who have Amazon and take it out on us. Of course they are all liberals (as am I) but somehow these folks don't have the decency to avoid beating up on working class people because they hate the company we now work for.

We deserve this raise for the work we're doing to bring the Prime members into Whole Foods, which was the point of the Amazon-Whole Foods deal. I know that's not why we're getting a raise, but we're a "charitable cause" for Amazon.

The corporations people work for, including and especially Amazon, are not charities. They can afford to pay us what we're worth.

RH , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:28 pm
I mean – we're open to abuse from customers who *hate* Amazon.
RH , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:29 pm
Geez. I also meant. We're *not* a charitable cause for Amazon.
WILLIAM HARRINGTON , says: October 4, 2018 at 3:47 pm
I've worked at Amazon a few times during the Christmas rush, but then they just up and left their Coffeeville Kansas location. They abandoned their employees, so I don't do business with them.
Haigha , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:25 pm
"Any time there's market power, which Amazon has in spades, the perfect competition model won't apply."

Nope. No one has anything close to market power for unskilled and semi-skilled labor. It's entirely fungible, and therefore it's very likely that wages are (or would be absent government interference) a close approximation of marginal product.

Haigha , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:38 pm
"What galls me is that by paying for food stamps for people who are actually working for WalMart, Amazon etc., we are effectively subsidizing the employers, not the employees."

This is false. Market wages are not equal to the minimum amount that will prevent the employee from starving. They're set by supply and demand. Government benefits make their recipients *less* desperate for work, ceteris paribus, and therefore tend to *increase*, not decrease, the market wage for low-skilled workers (less supply = higher equilibrium price).

" followed by typical Rand/Rothbard rhetoric. This attitude illustrates why the 'market uber alles' ethos is irreconcilable with Christian anthropology."

"Rand/Rothbard"? Try Sowell/Econ 101.

Business is business, charity is charity, and government welfare is government welfare. We've known at least since Adam Smith that *everyone* will be wealthier when charity is kept separate from business. Let businesses maximize profits, and then let individuals be generous with their use of those profits. There's nothing in Christian anthropology that says we all have to be poorer than necessary because we're too dumb or twisted to understand economics.

PeterK , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:40 pm
what Bezos and Amazon are doing is similar to what Henry Ford did early in the 20th when he raised his workers wages to $5 a day

"Workers who had taken pride in their labor were quickly bored by the more mundane assembly process. Some took to lateness and absenteeism. Many simply quit, and Ford found itself with a crippling labor turnover rate of 370 percent. The assembly line depended on a steady crew of employees to staff it, and training replacements was expensive. Ford reasoned that a bigger paycheck might make the factory's tedium more tolerable."

https://www.thehenryford.org/explore/blog/fords-five-dollar-day/

the warehouse business is competitive. retailers are ramping hiring for the Christmas season and Amazon increasing the starting wage to $15/hr is a direct challenge to Target, WalMart and others. also his call for increasing the minimum wage to 7.25/hr is designed to hurt his competitors. one of his warehouses (I think) in China operates with only 4 employees a highly automated warehouse.

PeterK , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:42 pm
" then they just up and left their Coffeeville Kansas location. "

probably because it wasn't an ideal location
https://goo.gl/maps/E2fL6YLyqQK2

PeterK , says: October 4, 2018 at 4:46 pm
RH wrote "The corporations people work for, including and especially Amazon, are not charities. They can afford to pay us what we're worth."

poor RH is a classic liberal who doesn't understand how wages are determined. you paid not what you are worth, but rather what you add to the company. if you're only producing $12/hr for the company then your salary should be less than $12/hr not $15/hr otherwise the company will lose money. Now if you are paid $15/hr and are producing $16/hr of value for the company they are worth $15/hr
I would suggest that you read some Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman

JonF , says: October 4, 2018 at 6:04 pm
Re: I encourage people not to buy from Amazon and patronize brick and mortar businesses instead.

This has actually gotten very hard to do (at least if you replace "Amazon" with "online vendors" in general). We've gotten to the point where brick and mortar businesses all too often carry only items of mass appeal. If you need something that is not a mass taste item you'll probably have to get it online.

Jonah R. , says: October 4, 2018 at 7:16 pm
Suburbanp wrote: "Our children should be writing reports about Bezos, just as they should about Ford and Gates and other visionary entrepreneurs."

Sure, they can write about how Bezos has dozens of communities around the country falling all over themselves to give billions in tax breaks to the company in exchange for being the location for Amazon's "second headquarters." Maryland, for example, wants to pony up $8.5 billion and is promising to repair and build custom infrastructure specifically for Amazon.

So yeah, have kids write those school essays about crony capitalism. And make sure they include the stories of people who run donut shops and gas stations and thousands of other small business owners in those communities who get shafted by taxes and regulations even as their state and county governments roll out the red carpet for a popular, narcissistic billionaire.

Tom S. , says: October 4, 2018 at 9:22 pm
Actually raising salaries is better than some of the "perks" that other companies provide in lieu of higher pay.
the other sara , says: October 4, 2018 at 10:05 pm
"For the love of money is the root of all evil " 1 Tim. 6:10. Methinks someone worth $161 billion – that's a billion with a "b" – might just love money a leetle too much. Hey Bezos, if you're reading this, I challenge you to live on $15/hr for 1 year and see how you manage. For the love of all that is good and holy, Jeff Bezos could DOUBLE the salary of all those who make $15/hr and still have $127 billion leftover to spare – which is still an insane sum of money in the hands of one person! This is nothing short of corporate serfdom! And I'm not advocating for socialism here, I'm just saying that capitalism, in the absence of a strong Judeo-Christian ethic, usually leads to unbridled avarice!

hey amhixson: ditto!

Socrates , says: October 4, 2018 at 10:37 pm

This is the "Economics 101" version. No serious economist would take it as a fair representation of the real economy. The idea that employees will be paid their marginal product only applies, even in theory, to perfectly competitive markets. The trouble is that labour markets are, on average, even further from the perfect competition model than other markets. Any time there's market power, which Amazon has in spades, the perfect competition model won't apply. Unless you're talking about the sale of oranges or toilet paper, any economic model derived from the perfect competition assumption has to be taken with a gallon of salt.

Gee, if only someone had written about that recently

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/28/opinion/corporate-america-suppressing-wages.html

Tom D , says: October 4, 2018 at 11:01 pm
So much to comment on.

To start off with, RobG is wrong when he makes this claim: "Bezos and his ilk have street cred with social liberals, so they get a pass." I see Bezos and Amazon get trashed on liberal blogs on a pretty regular basis.

Now, wading through the comments, a variety of observations:
1. $15/hour without the stock options and stuff is probably better for most of the workers than much lower pay with those options. When you're not making a lot of money, a stable base pay matters, as does getting the money now, not much later when the stock options vest.
2. Bezos obviously does expect to ultimately benefit from doing this. Possible benefits include being able to hire better employees, lower turnover, and customer good will. He's not running a charity, nor would I expect him to do so in today's business environment and culture.
3. That said, the overall culture when it comes to wealth is pretty badly fouled up. It is obscene that one person can accumulate a net worth of $160 billion, and it certainly is not conducive to a stable and healthy society.
4. That said, I don't particularly blame Bezos for being obscenely wealthy -- he's playing the game with the rules that actually exist. If we don't like that (and we shouldn't), then we as a society should change those rules.

cka2nd , says: October 5, 2018 at 1:56 am
I was once told that a former boss of mine, in describing me to a recent hire, called me "our favorite communist." I think Matt in VA has become my favorite conservative.

Well done, sir, very well done.

Rob G , says: October 5, 2018 at 8:04 am
~~To start off with, RobG is wrong when he makes this claim: "Bezos and his ilk have street cred with social liberals, so they get a pass." I see Bezos and Amazon get trashed on liberal blogs on a pretty regular basis.~~

If that's true I'm happy to hear it (depending on what they're being trashed for, of course).

"We've gotten to the point where brick and mortar businesses all too often carry only items of mass appeal. If you need something that is not a mass taste item you'll probably have to get it online."

Very true, unless you have a local retailer near you that will do special orders. Not everyone does.

"I would suggest that you read some Thomas Sowell and Milton Friedman"

Fiscal libertarianism is part of the problem, not the solution. I would in turn suggest that you read some John Medaille and Albino Barrera.

John Blythe , says: October 6, 2018 at 6:01 pm
Jeff Bezos owns 17% of Amazon; the remainder is owned by people like, well, me, a schoolteacher married to a schoolteacher. Years ago, I was impressed with the service Amazon provided its customers and invested money in the company. Because Bezos recognized he had fiduciary duties–that is to say, moral duties–to those who had entrusted their money with him, I have seen that stock price appreciate. Consequently, I am in a position to send my children to college and help my mother as she ages. Had Bezos operated Amazon as a charity–contrary to the duties he had assumed to shareholders–I would be out of luck.

Rod, I am awed and grateful for your energy on so many issues, but please try to avoid the nonsensical, attention-grabbing ledes and articles that betray a deep ignorance of some elementary concepts of economics and the profound morality of the free market.

[Oct 05, 2018] William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

Jun 07, 2013 | youtu.be

William Binney – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

https://youtu.be/qB3KR8fWNh0

[Oct 05, 2018] 500 Years of History Shows that Mass Spying Is Always Aimed at Crushing Dissent *It's Never to Protect Us From Bad Guys*

Jan 10, 2014 | www.globalresearch.ca

http://www.globalresearch.ca/500-years-of-history-shows-that-mass-spying-is-always-aimed-at-crushing-dissent/5364462

[Oct 02, 2018] Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

Oct 02, 2018 | www.unz.com

Art , says: August 10, 2017 at 6:28 pm GMT

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

"The people" and their mass interests are preeminent in the hierarchy things. Like it or not -- Google is a product of our culture -- therefor our culture has a valid claim on its actions.

It comes down too private ownership vs. public interest. As a pure libertarian I do not like it -- but as a realist, the mass interests of the people counts.

The "golden mean" must win out. A compromise must be reached.

Google's actions must be regulated.

Peace -- Art

utu , says: August 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm GMT
@Art STEVE BANNON WANTS FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE REGULATED LIKE UTILITIES

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-facebook-and-google-regulated-like-utilities/

Darin , says: August 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm GMT
@Art

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility

Why you think United States Googlemaster General would be more friendly to free speech than current Google leadership?

Igor , says: August 11, 2017 at 5:24 pm GMT
Google wants to be
Ein Land
Ein Volk
Ein Führer

[Sep 29, 2018] Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

Sep 29, 2018 | www.unz.com

Art , says: August 10, 2017 at 6:28 pm GMT

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility -- like the Ma Bell telephone system was regulated in the 1950's. Google is too powerful -- it should not have the cultural monopoly power it has over our society.

"The people" and their mass interests are preeminent in the hierarchy things. Like it or not -- Google is a product of our culture -- therefor our culture has a valid claim on its actions.

It comes down too private ownership vs. public interest. As a pure libertarian I do not like it -- but as a realist, the mass interests of the people counts.

The "golden mean" must win out. A compromise must be reached.

Google's actions must be regulated.

Peace -- Art

utu , says: August 10, 2017 at 7:01 pm GMT
@Art STEVE BANNON WANTS FACEBOOK AND GOOGLE REGULATED LIKE UTILITIES

https://theintercept.com/2017/07/27/steve-bannon-wants-facebook-and-google-regulated-like-utilities/

Darin , says: August 10, 2017 at 9:30 pm GMT
@Art

Clearly Google should acquire the status of a public utility

Why you think United States Googlemaster General would be more friendly to free speech than current Google leadership?

[Sep 22, 2018] Google admits it lets hundreds of third party apps read your emails by Valentin Wolf /

Notable quotes:
"... "so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data." ..."
"... In practice, this means that any app that shares your private data with advertisers must disclose this fact in their privacy policy. This is seen first in a pop-up box that includes a note that the app wants permission to "read, send, delete and manage your email." However, information about the marketers this data is shared with can often be more difficult to find. ..."
"... In their letter to the company, the senators claim that one marketing company, Return Path Inc, read the private contents of 8,000 emails to train its AI algorithms. ..."
"... "not limited to your name, email address, username and password." ..."
"... At least 379 apps available on the Apple and Android marketplaces can access users' email data. In Google's letter to Congress, the firm declined to say when, if ever, it has suspended an app for not complying with its rules. ..."
"... Google itself has mined users' emails since Gmail was launched in 2004, but announced last year that it would stop the practice, amid privacy concerns and a federal wiretapping lawsuit. ..."
"... "discuss possible approaches to safeguarding privacy more effectively." ..."
"... Everything you've ever searched for on any of your devices is recorded & stored by Google https://t.co/8KGgO0xT92 ..."
"... Like this story? Share it with a friend! ..."
Sep 20, 2018 | www.rt.com

Omnipresent tech giant Google told US senators that it lets third-party apps read data from Gmail accounts and share this information with marketers, even though Google itself allegedly stopped this practice last year. In a letter sent to the lawmakers in July and made public on Thursday, Google said that developers may share your data with third parties for the purposes of ad-targeting, "so long as they are transparent with the users about how they are using the data."

In practice, this means that any app that shares your private data with advertisers must disclose this fact in their privacy policy. This is seen first in a pop-up box that includes a note that the app wants permission to "read, send, delete and manage your email." However, information about the marketers this data is shared with can often be more difficult to find.

Read more Google lets 3rd-party app developers read your emails - report

Google's letter came in response to a request by Republican senators for information about the scope of the email content accessible to these third parties. In their letter to the company, the senators claim that one marketing company, Return Path Inc, read the private contents of 8,000 emails to train its AI algorithms.

Return Path told the Wall Street Journal at the time that, while it did not explicitly ask users whether it could read their emails, permission is given in their user agreements, which state that the company collects personal information including but "not limited to your name, email address, username and password."

At least 379 apps available on the Apple and Android marketplaces can access users' email data. In Google's letter to Congress, the firm declined to say when, if ever, it has suspended an app for not complying with its rules.

Google itself has mined users' emails since Gmail was launched in 2004, but announced last year that it would stop the practice, amid privacy concerns and a federal wiretapping lawsuit.

Now, privacy officials from Google, Apple and Amazon are preparing to travel to Capitol Hill next week, for a Commerce Committee hearing . There, the tech companies will be asked to "discuss possible approaches to safeguarding privacy more effectively."

Everything you've ever searched for on any of your devices is recorded & stored by Google https://t.co/8KGgO0xT92

-- RT (@RT_com) March 30, 2018

The hearing is another in a series of grillings faced by the tech industry since the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal revealed in March that Facebook allowed a third party to collect personal information on millions of users. Google CEO Larry Page was invited to a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on political bias, foreign interference and privacy on tech platforms earlier this month, but declined to show up, sending a written testimony instead.

Like this story? Share it with a friend!

[Sep 22, 2018] A confidential report by Belgian investigators confirms that British intelligence services hacked state-owned Belgian telecom giant Belgacom on behalf of Washington

Sep 22, 2018 | thenewkremlinstooge.wordpress.com

et Al September 21, 2018 at 1:28 pm

Euractiv with AFP: Belgian inquest implicates UK in phone spying
https://www.euractiv.com/section/justice-home-affairs/news/belgian-inquest-implicates-uk-in-phone-spying/

A confidential report by Belgian investigators confirms that British intelligence services hacked state-owned Belgian telecom giant Belgacom on behalf of Washington, it was revealed on Thursday (20 September).

The report, which summarises a five-year judicial inquiry, is almost complete and was submitted to the office of Justice Minister Koen Geens, a source close to the case told AFP, confirming Belgian press reports

The matter will now be discussed within Belgium's National Security Council, which includes the Belgian Prime Minister with top security ministers and officials.

Contacted by AFP, the Belgian Federal Prosecutor's Office and the cabinet of Minister Geens refused to comment .
####

NO. Shit. Sherlock.

So the real question is that if this has known since 2013, why now? BREXIT?

[Sep 16, 2018] Amazon Employees Investigated Over Suspected Black Market For Information, Favors by Tyler Durden

So your information and private data can be traded for some small amount of money to God knows whom
Notable quotes:
"... Considering that Amazon employees in the US are some of the most poorly paid in tech and retail (Jeff Bezos was recently booed by his own employees over low wages), perhaps the WSJ' s theory holds water. ..."
Sep 16, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Amazon has launched an investigation to track down a sophisticated network of employees running a "black market" of confidential information and favors, illegally sold through intermediaries to site merchants in order to give them a competitive advantage over other sellers, reports the Wall Street Journal .

In addition to providing sales metrics, search keywords and reviewers' email addresses, bribed Amazon employees would delete negative feedback for around $300 per review, with middleman brokers typically demanding a five-review minimum from merchants looking to game the system.

Employees of Amazon, primarily with the aid of intermediaries , are offering internal data and other confidential information that can give an edge to independent merchants selling their products on the site, according to sellers who have been offered and purchased the data, brokers who provide it and people familiar with internal investigations.

...

In exchange for payments ranging from roughly $80 to more than $2,000 , brokers for Amazon employees in Shenzhen are offering internal sales metrics and reviewers' email addresses, as well as a service to delete negative reviews and restore banned Amazon accounts , the people said.

...

Amazon is investigating a number of cases involving employees, including some in the U.S., suspected of accepting these bribes , according to people familiar with the matter. -WSJ

The data brokers primarily operate ion China, as the number of new Amazon sellers in the country has been skyrocketing. The Journal speculates that " Amazon employees in China have relatively small salaries, which may embolden them to take risks. "

Considering that Amazon employees in the US are some of the most poorly paid in tech and retail (Jeff Bezos was recently booed by his own employees over low wages), perhaps the WSJ' s theory holds water.

The internal probe was launched after a tip over the practice in China was sent to Eric Broussard, an Amazon VP in charge of overseeing global marketplaces. The company has since moved key executives into different positions in China to try and "root out the bribery," reports the Journal .

"We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties," an Amazon spokeswoman said of the situation, confirming that the company is investigating the claims. The same applies to sellers: "We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them ," she said.

Merchant network

A major component of Amazon's success is its massive network of third-party merchants, where the company derives the majority of merchandise sales. Over two million merchants now offer an estimated 550 million products over Amazon, which constitutes over half of all units sold on the site. Third party sales constituted an estimated $200 billion in gross merchandise volume last year, according to estimates by FactSet.

As such, "Sellers must aggressively compete to get their products noticed on the first page of search results, where customers typically make most of their purchase decisions," notes the Journal .

Evolving manipulations

Merchants have long sought competitive advantages over each other - first gaming Amazon's automated ranking system, by paying people to leave fake reviews and drive traffic to products.

After some time, the black market for internal information emerged, as bribed employees began providing data and access to various benefits, according to a person who has facilitated by brokers.

Brokers are the middlemen between Amazon employees and sellers who want negative reviews deleted or access to internal sales information. Brokers search for Amazon employees on Chinese messaging platform WeChat and send messages asking them if they would like to provide these services in exchange for cash , according to brokers and sellers who say they have been approached by brokers.

The going rate for having an Amazon employee delete negative reviews is about $300 per review , according to people familiar with the practice. Brokers usually demand a five-review minimum, meaning that sellers typically must pay at least $1,500 for the service, the people said. -WSJ

For a lower fee, merchants can pay Amazon employees for the email addresses of verified reviewers, giving them the opportunity to reach out to those who have left negative reviews for the opportunity to persuade them to adjust or delete their comment - sometimes bribing the reviewer with a free or discounted product.

Also offered for sale is proprietary sales information, "such as the keywords customers typically use to search for items on Amazon's site, sales volume and other statistics about buyers' habits, according to the people," enabling Amazon sellers to better craft product descriptions in a manner which will boost their search result rankings.

At a recent conference hosted for sellers -- which wasn't run by Amazon -- a broker pulled up internal keyword results on his laptop. The broker said $80 can buy information on sales data, the number of times users searched for a certain product and clicked on a product page, which sellers are bidding for advertisements and how much those cost, according to the person who viewed the results. -WSJ

One seller in China told the Journal that competition on the website had become so intense that he needs to cheat in order to gain a competitive advantage. " If I don't do bad things I will die ," he said.

If all else fails in rooting out the black market, perhaps Bezos will simply release the hounds:


surf@jm , 9 minutes ago

China's motto......

Who needs Christian morality, when lying, cheating and stealing is our religion.....

surf@jm , 9 minutes ago

China's motto......

Who needs christian morality, when lying, cheating and stealing is our religion.....

Suicyco , 44 minutes ago

If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys

Last of the Middle Class , 44 minutes ago

Just like Wal Mart charging by the inch for shelf space. Same game different monkeys.

Normal , 44 minutes ago

Prime example of how the US is a fascist state: the corporation gets government to enforce law on poor people.

DoctorFix , 1 hour ago

When Amazon opened the flood gates of corruption and scams by allowing Chinese sellers to compete with Americans on the US site... well, the locals were fucked! Lying, scamming Chinese fuckers don't care who or how they screw you. And Amazon doesn't give a shit so long as it makes money. Fuck Amazon! That's why I cancelled any prime membership and haven't bought a damn thing from them in ages.

803Mastiff , 1 hour ago

And the Pentagon farmed out their servers to AWS.....What are Amazon employees getting paid for military intel?

richsob , 1 hour ago

If local retailers have a crappy inventory and the stores are staffed with surly Millennials, then why shouldn't I buy stuff on Amazon at a better price? I support local businesses that deserve being supported. The rest of them sound like a bunch of whiny liberals who feel "entitled" to my money.

cornflakesdisease , 2 minutes ago

Everything on Amazon can be found online somewhere else cheaper. You check out the item on Amazon and then buy it elsewhere. Any seller has to mark up on Amazon to pay Amazon. Logically, then, from his direct website, he would be slightly cheaper.

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Stanley-Hardware-S758-305-Chest-Handle/dp/B000FKF1NQ/ref=sr_1_16?ie=UTF8&qid=1537135278&sr=8-16&keywords=chest+handles

https://www.midlandhardware.com/185512.html

Cardinal Fang , 1 hour ago

I'm sorry, did I miss the part where Disgruntled Amazon employees sell access to the CIAs web farms?

Being Free , 1 hour ago

I have a letter from a woman who used to work with Bezos at a McDonalds restaurant when they were both in high school in Miami. She says Bezos walked her home from McDonalds one day after work and sexually attacked her in her home. He tried to rip her clothes off her but she managed to escape his evil clutches. She was and is so distraught over this incident that she is still afraid especially now that he is such a wealthy and powerful man.

just the tip , 44 minutes ago

well played.

JoeTurner , 1 hour ago

Oligarchs bitchez ! it's their country....you just pay the taxes...

ZD1 , 1 hour ago

"A major component of Amazon's success is its massive network of third-party merchants, where the company derives the majority of merchandise sales. Over two million merchants now offer an estimated 550 million products over Amazon, which constitutes over half of all units sold on the site. Third party sales constituted an estimated $200 billion in gross merchandise volume last year, according to estimates by FactSet."

Mostly Chicom sweatshop shit.

abgary1 , 1 hour ago

Giving away our privacy for convenience sake is inane and insane.

Have we become that lazy and ignorant?

Without privacy and thus freedom we have nothing.

Midas , 37 minutes ago

Give me convenience or give me death!

--Jello Biafra

pitz , 1 hour ago

That's nothing. Amazon has access to the business data of a large number of businesses that use AWS. The possibilities of abuse there are nearly endless.

bluebird100 , 1 hour ago

Get fucked Amazon, that's what you get for doing business in China.

ExplodingEntropy , 1 hour ago

tiny dick chicom down-voted you

http://www.auricmedia.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/the_matrix_deciphered.pdf

wetwipe , 1 hour ago

Fuckin' sick of people moaning about Amazon, Google, Facebook, etc, yet spending half their life on there and buying shit from them.

Personally I can't stand what Amazon has become and would never spend £1 with them.

Facebook is evil shit designed to re-wire the brain to make you a self conscious narcissist which will ultimately end in misery.

Google are a million miles away from 'do no evil' but TBH they have a very good product however they are evil scumbags.

These companies literally believe they are gods, that they control the world.... just like the big banks did before 2008.

I hope the crash comes soon.

-WetWipe

mrtoad , 1 hour ago

Banks do control the world

MARDUKTA , 1 hour ago

President will destroy them soon/CIA.

MedicalQuack , 1 hour ago

Heck, this is not just China being solicited, a couple weeks ago I had 4 voicemails, all the same recording stating "making $17.00 to $35.00 an hour posting reviews to Amazon. I didn't answer the calls and saw that they were junk and didn't run upon them until I checked my voicemail for a real message I had missed and there they were.

They all had a different number to call and a different company name, but it was the same recorded message on all 4 of them and this happened in a couple days, 2 on one day, and another 2 the next day. I guess they figured I was not going to respond and took me off attempt #5:)

Why wouldn't folks in the inside go after a scam like this, look at their CEO, a big fat quant from Wall Street..and of course we have all heard and read the stories about how Amazon pays...

This being said, I don't think this scam was just limited to China..if I remember correctly, this was promoted as part time work with posting reviews to Amazon and work as many hours as you like. I deleted all of them so I can't go back and listen again as they were just nuisance calls like others that I just get rid of.

MARDUKTA , 1 hour ago

Bezos partnered with some tribal chieftain in Nigeria who is CEO of Scams-R-Us.

RafterManFMJ , 1 hour ago

Everything's a lie, and the lie is everything

[Sep 16, 2018] To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry's authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now

Sep 16, 2018 | www.unz.com

Anonymous says: September 16, 2018 at 10:02 am GMT 200 Words

To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry's authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now. Amazon is currently the reference source. For a book to be forbidden by Amazon renders it largely invisible. It is equivalent to burning the book. So this is not a matter of Amazon exercising the prerogative of private enterprise. Amazon is a monopoly. It has no rival. If your book doesn't exist on Amazon, then for most people who are not research specialists, your book doesn't exist. The consequences for the pursuit of knowledge are ominous.

Exactly. And this kind of global monopoly power can't be diminished in time with naive, "free market – just go somewhere else", Libertarian sound-bites. People who believe in that fairytale are beyond naive. Amazon, YouTube, Reddit and Twitter are untouchable in an environment where their competitors can barely offer a fraction of a fraction of the Worldwide audience to their "content creators" and very few content creators to the audience. This built-in inertia is self-reinforcing and tremendously inert. It's also the reason why the Globalists have spared no expense to own those platforms.

Free speech will have to be enforced and saved politically. Waiting for Zuckenberg to un-fuck it is a fool's errand.

Deschutes , says: September 16, 2018 at 10:29 am GMT

@Anonymous
To be banned by Amazon is not equivalent to being banned by any other private business. Most publishers will admit that Amazon has replaced Bowker Books in Print as the industry's authoritative guide to what books in English have been printed in the past and what is in print now. Amazon is currently the reference source. For a book to be forbidden by Amazon renders it largely invisible. It is equivalent to burning the book. So this is not a matter of Amazon exercising the prerogative of private enterprise. Amazon is a monopoly. It has no rival. If your book doesn't exist on Amazon, then for most people who are not research specialists, your book doesn't exist. The consequences for the pursuit of knowledge are ominous.
Exactly. And this kind of global monopoly power can't be diminished in time with naive, "free market - just go somewhere else", Libertarian sound-bites. People who believe in that fairytale are beyond naive. Amazon, YouTube, Reddit and Twitter are untouchable in an environment where their competitors can barely offer a fraction of a fraction of the Worldwide audience to their "content creators" and very few content creators to the audience. This built-in inertia is self-reinforcing and tremendously inert. It's also the reason why the Globalists have spared no expense to own those platforms.

Free speech will have to be enforced and saved politically. Waiting for Zuckenberg to un-fuck it is a fool's errand. Great post! YouTube is another monopoly. I've tried many of the alternatives like Vimeo, Daily Motion, etc but they simply don't have the depth of content to compete. Google has fucked up Youtube with the same censorship as Amazon.

[Sep 15, 2018] More Facebook Censorship by snoopydawg

Notable quotes:
"... "It seems like the censorship power many people on the left want Silicon Valley executives to unilaterally exercise might end up being wielded against the left. One good way to know that would happen is that is already is happening." ..."
"... teleSUR English's page has been removed from Facebook for the second time this year without any specific reason being provided. It should be noted that the first time this occurred back in January 2018, Facebook did NOT provide any explanation in spite of our best efforts to understand their rationale. This is an alarming development in light of the recent shutting down of pages that don't fit a mainstream narrative. ..."
"... Your Page "teleSUR English" has been removed for violating our Terms of Use. A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in the permanent loss of your account. ..."
"... Max Blumenthal tweet shows the role of the Atlantic counsel had in removing the site from Facebook. Click the link to show who is on the counsel. This group has had a hand in a lot of shit that has been happening since Trump was elected. ..."
"... It is Deeply Concerning when one of the biggest social media platform censors whomever the hell they want and people say that "what's the big deal? It's a private company that should be able to monitor the content if they want." ..."
"... private company ..."
"... Here's a Reuters article on the role of the Atlantic Council. And yes, their board is a rogue's gallery of warmongers and imperialists. Reuters ..."
"... They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get. ..."
"... They track your web movement any time you read a page that has their "like us" button. They can learn everything about you from your family and friends who are on it because they get access to their contacts in their phones and tons of other places. This is a huge invasion of privacy, but no one should be surprised. The CIA gave Zucchini his start up money to build his site for that reason. ..."
"... I realize not participating in social media does not exempt me from the surveillance state. Heaven forbid they miss someone. But it's one or three less things I am giving absolute permission to my life. ..."
"... Ceterem censeo, Facebook delendum est! ..."
"... @thanatokephaloides ..."
"... inspired me to seek it out and add it to my home page. I'm going to paste Infowars (Alex Jones) on here too, just to spite them. Also, it's good to know what the crazies are up to. Jones got a big spike from the ban. ..."
Aug 14, 2018 | caucus99percent.com

'Deeply Disturbing': For Second Time This Year, Facebook Suspends Left-Leaning teleSUR English Without Explanation

"It seems like the censorship power many people on the left want Silicon Valley executives to unilaterally exercise might end up being wielded against the left. One good way to know that would happen is that is already is happening."

For the second time this year, Facebook has suspended teleSUR English's page, claiming the left-leaning Latin American news network violated the social media platform's terms of service without any further explanation -- a move that provoked outrage and concern among journalists, free speech advocates, and Big Tech critics.

In a short article posted on teleSUR's website on Monday, the regional news network -- which is based in Venezuela but also has received funding from Argentina, Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Nicaragua -- explained:

teleSUR English's page has been removed from Facebook for the second time this year without any specific reason being provided. It should be noted that the first time this occurred back in January 2018, Facebook did NOT provide any explanation in spite of our best efforts to understand their rationale. This is an alarming development in light of the recent shutting down of pages that don't fit a mainstream narrative.

According to the outlet, "the only communication" teleSUR has received from Facebook is the following message:

Your Page "teleSUR English" has been removed for violating our Terms of Use. A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorized individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated. Continued misuse of Facebook's features could result in the permanent loss of your account.

Max Blumenthal tweet shows the role of the Atlantic counsel had in removing the site from Facebook. Click the link to show who is on the counsel. This group has had a hand in a lot of shit that has been happening since Trump was elected.

Facebook has just deleted the page of @telesurenglish . A network source tells me FB justified eliminating the page on the vague basis of "violation of terms." The NATO-backed @DFRLab is currently assisting FB's purge. This is deeply disturbing. pic.twitter.com/MQe3Brdn15

-- Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) August 13, 2018

It is Deeply Concerning when one of the biggest social media platform censors whomever the hell they want and people say that "what's the big deal? It's a private company that should be able to monitor the content if they want."

Well it seems that its a Big Fucking Deal when that private company is working hand in hand with the government. Facebook has already been removing left leaning website's post for some time now and it looks like they are upping their game.


Azazello on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 2:47pm

Here's a Reuters article on the role of the Atlantic Council. And yes, their board is a rogue's gallery of warmongers and imperialists.
Reuters
Amanda Matthews on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 5:51pm
It's kind of ironic that these are HONORARY

@Azazello

Directors. There's some real stinkers on that list. 'Honor' has nothing to fo with it.

Honorary Directors

David C. Acheson
James A. Baker, III
Harold Brown
Frank C. Carlucci, III
Ashton B. Carter
Robert M. Gates
Michael G. Mullen
Leon E. Panetta
William J. Perry
Colin L. Powell
Condoleezza Rice
Edward L. Rowny
George P. Shultz
Dr. Horst Teltschik
John W. Warner
William H. Webster

Raggedy Ann on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 3:15pm
They're coming for all of us.

If you don't think that, then good luck. They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Good luck to us all. Let's hope a supervolcano blows before we are all actually further imprisoned in this open air prison.

snoopydawg on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 5:08pm
Doesn't matter if you signed up for FB or not

@Raggedy Ann

They track your web movement any time you read a page that has their "like us" button. They can learn everything about you from your family and friends who are on it because they get access to their contacts in their phones and tons of other places. This is a huge invasion of privacy, but no one should be surprised. The CIA gave Zucchini his start up money to build his site for that reason.

Many lefties were happy when FB deleted Jones and were mad at the Twitter guy who didn't. The site that they censored today isn't an American one, but I'm sure those lefties would be sh*tting bricks if FB did that to Rachel's show and website.

If you don't think that, then good luck. They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Good luck to us all. Let's hope a supervolcano blows before we are all actually further imprisoned in this open air prison.

The Aspie Corner on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 5:21pm
Rachel is right-wing. And she tows their uniparty line.

@snoopydawg If she's left-wing, I'm the queen of England.

#2

They track your web movement any time you read a page that has their "like us" button. They can learn everything about you from your family and friends who are on it because they get access to their contacts in their phones and tons of other places. This is a huge invasion of privacy, but no one should be surprised. The CIA gave Zucchini his start up money to build his site for that reason.

Many lefties were happy when FB deleted Jones and were mad at the Twitter guy who didn't. The site that they censored today isn't an American one, but I'm sure those lefties would be sh*tting bricks if FB did that to Rachel's show and website.

Raggedy Ann on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 8:34pm
Don't I know it, snoopy.

@snoopydawg

I realize not participating in social media does not exempt me from the surveillance state. Heaven forbid they miss someone. But it's one or three less things I am giving absolute permission to my life.

Anyway, it's disheartening how we are giving away our freedoms so easily.

snoopydawg on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 10:21pm
Or maybe how they are taking them away from us

@Raggedy Ann

and not enough people care about it because it. This I don't get. They are the ones who say that our military is fighting to defend our freedoms and yet they say that it's okay if the government spies on them because they have nothing to hide.

#2.1

I realize not participating in social media does not exempt me from the surveillance state. Heaven forbid they miss someone. But it's one or three less things I am giving absolute permission to my life.

Anyway, it's disheartening how we are giving away our freedoms so easily.

thanatokephaloides on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 7:46pm
ceterem censeo.....

@Raggedy Ann

I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Ceterem censeo, Facebook delendum est!

(Further, I opine, Facebook must be abolished!)

edit: Adjusted translation to less violent (but still accurate) terminology.

If you don't think that, then good luck. They are tightening the screws. I am more grateful each day that I never signed up for any of this horrific social media. This is as social as I get.

Good luck to us all. Let's hope a supervolcano blows before we are all actually further imprisoned in this open air prison.

QMS on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 4:26pm
Like you, we avoid the social immedia

like the plague. Really donna needa that much back feeden (jive talk for feedback, aka faceback)

after all, it's the rooskies to blame

https://www.youtube.com/embed/lP5Xv7QqXiM

The Aspie Corner on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 4:53pm
The left will never have a say anywhere.

The pigs will make sure of that.

thanatokephaloides on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 8:01pm
Why c99's still on Facebook

@mimi

So, why is C99p then still on Facebook?

Probably because we are careful just which Essays we post over there. Also, there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UL6BdiaGaJ

mimi on Wed, 08/15/2018 - 12:34am
hmm ... well ... never mind /nt

@thanatokephaloides

#5

So, why is C99p then still on Facebook?

Probably because we are careful just which Essays we post over there. Also, there's this:

https://www.youtube.com/embed/UL6BdiaGaJ8

earthling1 on Tue, 08/14/2018 - 11:28pm
The purge of telsur

inspired me to seek it out and add it to my home page. I'm going to paste Infowars (Alex Jones) on here too, just to spite them. Also, it's good to know what the crazies are up to. Jones got a big spike from the ban.

snoopydawg on Wed, 08/15/2018 - 1:08am
Big, big spike in traffic to his site

@earthling1

Infowars Website Traffic Explodes After Silicon Valley Blacklists Alex Jones

Silicon Valley's coordinated purge of all things Infowars from social media has had an unexpected result; website traffic to Infowars.com has soared in the past week, according to Amazon's website ranking service Alexa.

That said, Google and Apple are still allowing people to access Infowars content via apps, which have seen their downloads spike as well.

Consumers still can access InfoWars through the same tech companies that just banned it. Google still offers the Infowars app for Android users, and Apple customers can download it through the App Store.

As of Friday, the show's phone app remained near the top of the charts in both the Apple App and Google Play stores. Infowars Official, an app that lets viewers stream Jones' shows and read news of the day, was ranked fourth among trending apps in the Google Play store Friday. In the news category on Apple's App Store, Infowars earned the fourth slot under the top free apps, behind Twitter and News Break, a local and breaking news service, revealing a sudden boost of user downloads. –American Statesman

I like your idea. I'm going to hit both sites daily just to spite them.

inspired me to seek it out and add it to my home page. I'm going to paste Infowars (Alex Jones) on here too, just to spite them. Also, it's good to know what the crazies are up to. Jones got a big spike from the ban.

[Sep 15, 2018] The censorship escalated lately but it is of course following a long trend -- Facebook was shutting down pro-Palestine pages, and of course there was the PropOrNot fiasco and the tweaking of Google s algorithms to suppress alternative websites

Notable quotes:
"... People with original content and distingushable personalities were purged from Twitter for reasons that are hard to discern ..."
"... Probably 99% of posters at Twitter (the only "social media" that I read) are amateurs who never had time, talent or inclination to post anything original. ..."
"... If we count re-tweets or copies of pictures of cute cats and puppies, the percentage of "inauthenticity" is huge. But when one posts about atrocities in Yemen rather than puppies or adorable Israeli settlers in West Bank then he/she can be identified as a "threat". To USA? to humanity? to puppies? to the adorable settlers?. Who knows and who cares. ..."
"... what you see going on nowadays reminds you of George Orwells "2 minutes of hate" in his book 1984. ..."
"... Why (for what reason) is anybody on this social media shit? Not a rhetorical question; I dumped all of it well more than a decade ago. I'm not claiming some kind of superiority here; just questioning where critical thinking skills failed big time. It should have been obvious (it was to me) where this would end. And here we are... ..."
"... I don't see much serious debate on FB. Most people are communicating with friends, or people they call friends. And they are not anonymous which makes people cautious about expressing their true feelings. ..."
"... Selling advertisements is Facebook's business. Well only partially, a secondary line. Their main business is harvesting the psychometric data all its users so carelessly hand them, and then selling said data on to nefarious third parties. ..."
"... In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted--what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. ..."
"... Amazon (and others) banning books is the updated version of book burning. ..."
"... Young Millennials were drawn to Facebook like 1950's teenyboppers were drawn to smoking. All the kids were doing it. Decades later, those smokers paid a terrible price: lung cancer, COPD, etc. And they had even (unknowingly) poisoned their own kids (via secondhand smoke). ..."
"... People simply have no "sense" for systemic risk. We only seem to learn via disaster. Whether it is social media, MIC, financial markets, propaganda, climate change, etc. ..."
"... "Free Syrian Army sentences Syrian doctor to 6 months in prison for criticizing Erdogan on Facebook" ..."
Aug 23, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

worldblee , Aug 22, 2018 9:02:34 PM | 26

Authentic = Pro-US (and allies), pro-Atlanticist, pro-corporate (at least, the right corporations), pro-Israel

Inauthentic = pro-Russian, Palestinian, Syrian, Iranian, Venezuelan, etc.

The inauthentic voices shall be censored without mercy.

Piotr Berman , Aug 22, 2018 9:20:38 PM | 27

I followed FireEye link a bit and I have several conclusions.

1. The diagram they made about several "inauthentic sites" is totally bogus. People have various reasons to create anonymous accounts, for example if they have Saudi citizenship and they post something "pro-Iranian" because of authentic views they may be kidnapped, whipped and perhaps even executed. An American citizens may want to be anonymous if his/her views are unpopular among H management where they work. Besides several black lines of "shared e-mail addresses" that are already inconclusive they have "red arrows" of "promotional activity", presumably links, re-Tweets etc. of which there are billions.

2. I checked a "persona" and black-linked "fake journal". Persona has almost zero activity, 3 Twitter followers. Journal seems to be somewhat fake because it has several articles with low originality, nicely looking frontpage and some pages that are totally empty (e.g. Central Asia). It seems that this is one person effort to collate themes and views to his/her liking and practice web design, and due to sparse posting and mediocre originality, probably zero effective influence.

3. Eliminating 543 such accounts changes next to nothing given their sparse traffic. But FireEye identifies them as "threats". WFT?

4. By the way of contrast, when I followed tweets about fighting in Syria I witness huge concerted waves of masked re-tweets, identical tweets presented not as re-tweets that clearly had the purpose of swamping the traffic sympathetic to their opponents. The numbers were not surprising given the number of jihadi volunteers that actually served as cannon fodder rather than twitter warriors.

5. People with original content and distingushable personalities were purged from Twitter for reasons that are hard to discern (posting bloody pictures from battlefields? non-purged accounts show them too).

Probably 99% of posters at Twitter (the only "social media" that I read) are amateurs who never had time, talent or inclination to post anything original. For example they may find several posts of their liking and re-post them, expressing their views without inventing new content. If they create more than one account and are noticed by others, they could fall into FireEye criteria.

If we count re-tweets or copies of pictures of cute cats and puppies, the percentage of "inauthenticity" is huge. But when one posts about atrocities in Yemen rather than puppies or adorable Israeli settlers in West Bank then he/she can be identified as a "threat". To USA? to humanity? to puppies? to the adorable settlers?. Who knows and who cares.

Guerrero , Aug 23, 2018 12:34:08 AM | 28
That's quite an intelligent and observant post Piotr Berman. The evolution of the social media phenomena has me, for one, astounded. Not to mention confounded. How to go viral?

That's the question to answer. Even the mightiest sea wall can not resist the big tide.

Guerrero , Aug 23, 2018 1:24:26 AM | 30
I had never heard of the claquer tradition. Only, now there are robotic claquers. Oooof!
George Lane , Aug 23, 2018 2:01:02 AM | 31
@25 pB, respectfully, you must not know a lot of people... Many, many people still use Facebook and even use it as their main source of information; instead of ridiculing and thinking oneself superior to these people, we should engage them where they are at and tell them that it is not the best place to rely on for news.

The social media censorship has certainly escalated lately but it is of course following a long trend - we've known for several months for example that Facebook was shutting down pro-Palestine pages at the behest of the Israeli, American, and German governments, and of course there was the PropOrNot fiasco and the tweaking of Google's algorithms to supress alternative, mainly (real, not liberal-capitalist) left-wing websites. I am hopeful however that in a sense the cat is out of the bag, there is a critical mass of people who simply do not trust enough in the official channels anymore, and eventually all this censorship will backfire. That is an optimistic view anyway...

Harry , Aug 23, 2018 4:05:38 AM | 32
When I tried to open MoA at work today, got a message: "Access denied. Contact Administrator."

Congratz 'b! Your work is noticed and active suppression started by the usual suspects. If they didn't deem you noteworthy, they wouldn't bother.

Zanon , Aug 23, 2018 4:26:30 AM | 33
DM

Alot of people get news from Facebook, after all why wouldn't they? Its all about sharing links, just like here or any other social media place.

chris , Aug 23, 2018 6:20:46 AM | 34
there's a long and even honourable history behind the use of such professional actors going back to Ancient Egypt and the use of wailers at high-class peoples funerals, and one could see the point to all of that. But that was all done for the best of intentions.

unfortunately the modern incarnation of such ancient traditions is now being done for all the worst of intentions. (originally it was all done to generate positive emotions and feelings) nowadays its the complete opposite.

what you see going on nowadays reminds you of George Orwells "2 minutes of hate" in his book 1984.

if you are going to say anything, at please do try to be positive or constructive. Otherwise probably best not to do or say anything at all.

V , Aug 23, 2018 6:36:03 AM | 35
Why (for what reason) is anybody on this social media shit? Not a rhetorical question; I dumped all of it well more than a decade ago. I'm not claiming some kind of superiority here; just questioning where critical thinking skills failed big time. It should have been obvious (it was to me) where this would end. And here we are...
Zanon , Aug 23, 2018 7:32:38 AM | 38
V

Certainly a justification , but not on on my part: Two-thirds of American adults get news from social media: survey
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-internet-socialmedia/two-thirds-of-american-adults-get-news-from-social-media-survey-idUSKCN1BJ2A8

fastfreddy , Aug 23, 2018 8:48:30 AM | 40
34

there's a long and even honourable history behind the use of such professional actors going back to Ancient Egypt and the use of wailers at high-class peoples funerals, and one could see the point to all of that. but that was all done for the best of intentions.

Best of intentions, maybe not. The proletariat struggled greatly against their rulers. Slavery and serfdom were cultural norms. Not that these were attendees of upper class funerals, but in service to the elite to be sure. The illusion that oppressors are benevolent must be upheld. The reports would be spread throughout the town. Perhaps we were wrong in our assessment that ol' Joe was a cruel and miserable oppressor.

This trick has endured through the ages. See Facebook. By the looks of it, everyone now suffers from Stockholm Syndrome.

dh , Aug 23, 2018 10:08:21 AM | 41

@36 I don't see much serious debate on FB. Most people are communicating with friends, or people they call friends. And they are not anonymous which makes people cautious about expressing their true feelings.
Charles R , Aug 23, 2018 10:43:45 AM | 42
I work in a library part-time. Most of my regular patrons who do nothing but use the computers use Facebook for their entire two hours for messaging friends or lovers, or they divide up their time between that and YouTube videos. I try to help them from time to time figure out the latest changes to their Facebook accounts, even though I haven't used it in years.

They're ordinary sorts of people whose lifestyles require them to get their Internet through our public space rather than at home, or they don't want to use their phones for it. There are also folks who have various social or physical disabilities who enjoy watching videos of trains and steam engines. There are also kids who don't use Facebook but watch endless reiterations of AI-generated YouTube videos or play roblox or agar.io.

So, I guess I'm saying people use social media shit to pass the time. Much like those of us who are passing the time using this site. While we might believe we are getting deeper to the truth of our realities through MoA, we're also sitting in front of a screen just as much.

Sometimes more.

dh , Aug 23, 2018 10:51:56 AM | 43
@42 "While we might believe we are getting deeper to the truth of our realities through MoA, we're also sitting in front of a screen just as much."

Party pooper! You just ruined my whole internet experience!

Ross , Aug 23, 2018 11:34:45 AM | 44

Selling advertisements is Facebook's business. Well only partially, a secondary line. Their main business is harvesting the psychometric data all its users so carelessly hand them, and then selling said data on to nefarious third parties.

@karlof1 | Aug 22, 2018 3:31:39 PM | 14

In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted--what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression.

While Amazon (and others) banning books is the updated version of book burning.

@Nicole | Aug 22, 2018 6:24:47 PM | 21

First they came for the revisionists...

Guerrero , Aug 23, 2018 12:32:57 PM | 45
V wrote: @35
Why (for what reason) is anybody on this social media shit? Not a rhetorical question; I dumped all of it well more than a decade ago. I'm not claiming some kind of superiority here; just questioning where critical thinking skills failed big time. It should have been obvious (it was to me) where this would end. And here we are...

I was active on a few web-places in the years 2002-2008 or so. The opportunity for "platonic dialog" was suited to my temperament I guess and the results were interesting.

I turned more than one big site on it's head with my questioning. Some of my posts went insanely viral. Those were the early days. I noticed professional trolls from the outset who seemed to be part of the web-site forum itself. They were my adversaries, and over time began to mimic my posts since no one could beat me at Socratic dialoging.

The topics were many different: for examples: global warming and the environmental ethos, the old Leibnitz-Newton argument, and regarding the justifications for the Iraq War...

It was fun! A Socratic dialog site with member-referees would actually be a great thing.

This is based on my experience: it is a great learning experience to have to defend a thesis. I did independent research at that time to avoid getting caught in an argument with my pants down. In every thread it was just about EVERYBODY in there against me.

(I knew the non-poster listeners were fascinated by what was going on. One site employed a software called Motet which is excellent for making repeated references to one´s own posts or to the posts of another or to documentary evidence, so the discussions don't get bogged down explaining the debate to new-comers). I came to realize that my posts were being studied when i drew some conclusions from the responses they were provoking.

Ten years ago, I totally dropped out of these kinds of internet forums where ideas might so usefully be examined in light of the opinions and knowledge of a diversity of persons.

Jackrabbit , Aug 23, 2018 12:57:18 PM | 46
b: "Facebook Kills ..."

Young Millennials were drawn to Facebook like 1950's teenyboppers were drawn to smoking. All the kids were doing it. Decades later, those smokers paid a terrible price: lung cancer, COPD, etc. And they had even (unknowingly) poisoned their own kids (via secondhand smoke).

People simply have no "sense" for systemic risk. We only seem to learn via disaster. Whether it is social media, MIC, financial markets, propaganda, climate change, etc.

Hey all the cool kids are on THIS side of the boat!!

Despite the well-known problems with Facebook, few care to explore alternatives. Here's one struggling for attention that pays for your time on the social network .

But the naivete of Millennials is now legendary. From SJW "snowflakes" to attractive joggers that think their cellphone protects them in sparsely populated areas :

Rivera told officials he exited his vehicle and started "running behind her and alongside her," according to the criminal complaint. Tibbetts then grabbed her phone and told him she was going to call the police , according to the criminal complaint.
james , Aug 23, 2018 1:05:53 PM | 47
well, at least one poster thinks fb is a viable place to get ''''information''', lol.... these promo pitches are getting worse by the minute..
james , Aug 23, 2018 1:15:51 PM | 48
fb is relevant.. the sultan in turkey thinks it is relevant and his goons in syria think it is relevant, lol..

"Free Syrian Army sentences Syrian doctor to 6 months in prison for criticizing Erdogan on Facebook"

and that is why i believe everything i read on the internut, especially on facebook, rof!

james , Aug 23, 2018 1:25:29 PM | 49
ot - i see harper at sst has an article up on zukerberg as well..HARPER: ZUCKERBERG JOINS THE WAR PARTY CONTINUED...
dh , Aug 23, 2018 1:30:01 PM | 50
@46 "But the naivete of Millennials is now legendary. From SJW "snowflakes" to attractive joggers that think their cellphone protects them in sparsely populated areas:..."

And that is precisely what I dislike about FB. If I was to post something like that there I would be called a fascist or dragged into unwinnable arguments. Or, horror of horrors, publicly unfriended.

(Messenger is pretty good though)

Mike P , Aug 23, 2018 1:46:39 PM | 51
@7
"...we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors."

Jeez, can't they at least produce a "highly likely" for us?

Here you go:

"...we assess with moderate confidence this activity is highly likely to originate from Iranian actors."

[Sep 12, 2018] Panic And Dismay Leaked Video Reveals Distraught Google Execs Grappling With Hillary Clinton's Loss

So Google is highly political entity and a close contacts to US intelligence agencies of you created and managed by intelligence agencies)
Sep 12, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Wed, 09/12/2018 - 16:45 1.2K SHARES

Days after Google was exposed trying to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election, a leaked "internal only" video published by Breitbart Senior Tech correspondent Allum Bokhari reveals a panel of Google executives who are absolutely beside themselves following Hillary Clinton's historic loss.

The video is a full recording of Google's first all-hands meeting following the 2016 election (these weekly meetings are known inside the company as "TGIF" or "Thank God It's Friday" meetings). Sent to Breitbart News by an anonymous source, it features co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, VPs Kent Walker and Eileen Naughton, CFO Ruth Porat, and CEO Sundar Pichai . - Breitbart

In the video, Brin can be heard comparing Trump supporters to fascists and extremists - arguing that like other extremists, Trump voters suffered from "boredom" which has, he claims, historically led to fascism and communism.

He then asks his company what they can do to ensure a "better quality of governance and decision-making."

And according to Kent Walker, VP for Global Affairs, those who support populist causes like the MAGA movement are motivated by "fear, xenophobia, hatred and a desire for answers that may or may not be there."

He later says that Google needs to fight to ensure that populist movements around the world are merely a "blip" and a "hiccup" in the arc of history that "bends towards progress."

The video can be seen below, however scroll down for a list of timestamped segments to note, courtesy of Breitbart .

https://content.jwplatform.com/players/TYgVGuSC-o73dHpYz.html

me title=


outofnowhere ,

Google and it's execs seem to be a collective of Dr. Frankenstein's whose creation unknowingly or knowingly practices evil against innocence.

Little Girl Scene from 1931 Frankenstein and 1974 Young Frankenstein

We saw the scene in 1931 Frankenstein where the creature meets a young girl. Although a little afraid, she accepts him and plays games with him. After they throw all the petals from a flower into the lake, he looks around for something else to throw. He picks her up and throws her in. Until recently, the actual toss was cut from presentations of the film, because it is just too painful.

DeadFred ,

I have a friend who was there that night with the election coverage crew. He's a secret conservative trying not to lose his good paying job so I won't give details. But he described a scene to me that would be comical if it wasn't so pathetic. It was pretty much how it is described here and he had to just grit his teeth and try to keep from laughing or crying. "Just keep repeating, $190,000 per year"

uhland62 ,

When the Emperor (google) doesn't like his people he must go and find himself another people.

Thebighouse ,

SOMEHOW GOOGLE FACEBOOK TWITTER NEED TO PAY US FOR USING OUR PERSONAL AND DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION WITHOUT

"REAL" CONSENT.

Ever gone googling? They need to pay you for selling you information. It is blatant theft. You are ENTITLED TO YOUR MONEY.

I got that word entitled from Warren and obummers micky and barry. Oh and sharpton too.

bobdog54 ,

First, they may have a reasonably good, not high, IQ but it's clear the stark reality of the real world and its people are completely unknown to them or they have little to no integrity.

Second, maybe they are completely brain dead to support a clear criminal over 4 decades or they themselves are essentially of the criminal mind.

[Sep 10, 2018] Here's The Criticism Jeff Bezos and Amazon Actually Deserve

Notable quotes:
"... Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years "more than 400 American journalists have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency." He added: "The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception." ..."
"... Amazon has always been and will always remain a front for the deep state shenanigans. This company makes no money, and yet has one of the biggest market caps in the world. As to this that the Washington compost, traditional CIA media, has been purchased by no other than bezos himself, and that leaving any doubt aside, the same CIA just awarded him $600Mio per year to give them some disposable computing power. And then suddenly you hear all these stories about government agencies willing to make the same move... ..."
"... It looks like Bezos is a CIA asset. ..."
"... That it's about modern slavery, in a runup to the 4th industrial revolution. (in which these workers will be fired) ..."
"... I'm particularly troubled by Jeff Bezos and his connections with the CIA and deep state. The CEO of Amazon did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he expected newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. He purchased the long-trusted U.S. newspaper for the power it would ensure him in Washington and because it could be wielded as a propaganda mouthpiece to extend his ability to both shape and control public opinion. ..."
"... And because the CIA and Bezos are partners I wouldn't hold your breath for any changes. We now have a form of government subsidized neo-slavery. ..."
"... Well, Amazon is not a business, it's a surveillance agency masquerading as a business. ..."
Sep 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
By Joe Jarvis via The Daily Bell

... ... ...

I agree with portions of a letter sent to Jeff Bezos on behalf of 100 of his employees .

They are against certain government contracts Amazon fulfills.

The employees raised concerns over the facial recognition software called Rekognition, developed by Amazon. Amazon sells the software to law enforcement and federal policing agencies.

But facial recognition software is basically an unwarranted unreasonable search. You shouldn't have to reveal your identity to the government without being suspected of a crime. And with this software, just going out into public means the government will defacto search you, and be able to track your whereabouts.

In the letter, employees also spoke out against Amazon providing services to Peter Thiel's company Palantir .

Palantir offers predictive policing tools. It analyzes vast amounts of data in order to map complex social connections and behavior patterns.

Palantir is almost like Minority Report the police might know you are going to commit a crime before you do

The technology is named after the crystal balls used by the dark lord Sauron and evil wizard Saruman to spy on middle earth in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings .

The letter reads:

Dear Jeff,

We are troubled by the recent report from the ACLU exposing our company's practice of selling AWS Rekognition, a powerful facial recognition technology, to police departments and government agencies. We don't have to wait to find out how these technologies will be used. We already know that in the midst of historic militarization of police , renewed targeting of Black activists, and the growth of a federal deportation force currently engaged in human rights abuses -- this will be another powerful tool for the surveillance state, and ultimately serve to harm the most marginalized

We call on you to:

Unfortunately, it doesn't stop there.

Amazon also contracts with the CIA, bringing in at least $600 million per year . They provide web services for high-security state secrets to the CIA and other U.S. spy agencies. Plus, Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post. So the CIA pays Amazon $600 million per year. Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon. And Jeff Bezos is the sole owner of the Washington Post. Does that sound like a conflict of interest to you?

It is also interesting to note that the Washington Post has long been associated with the CIA . Project Mockingbird was a CIA operation which paid American journalists to publish certain information and bury other facts, depending on the interests of the CIA.

After creation of the CIA in 1947, it enjoyed direct collaboration with many U.S. news organizations. But the agency faced a major challenge in October 1977, when -- soon after leaving the Washington Post -- famed Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein provided an extensive expose in Rolling Stone.

Citing CIA documents, Bernstein wrote that during the previous 25 years "more than 400 American journalists have secretly carried out assignments for the Central Intelligence Agency." He added: "The history of the CIA's involvement with the American press continues to be shrouded by an official policy of obfuscation and deception."

Amazon and Jeff Bezos should be held accountable for providing oppressive tools to the government.

But they should not be criticized and punished for success, as Bernie Sanders' Stop BEZOS Act would do.

Then again if Bezos wants to make money from government contracts, maybe taking care of his employees from cradle to grave just comes with the territory. That money came from taxes. And taxes are are markedly different than free market revenue. "Customers" do not have direct control over how their tax dollars are spent. But apart from the government contracts, I could otherwise entirely remove my funding of Amazon in an instant by refusing to do business with it.

With government sources of funding, Amazon gift cards resembling a currency, and delivery "patrols" in your area , Amazon is looking more and more like a government

But that is a subject we will tackle next week. You don't have to play by the rules of the corrupt politicians, manipulative media, and brainwashed peers.

... ... ...


Adolfsteinbergovitch ,

Amazon has always been and will always remain a front for the deep state shenanigans. This company makes no money, and yet has one of the biggest market caps in the world. As to this that the Washington compost, traditional CIA media, has been purchased by no other than bezos himself, and that leaving any doubt aside, the same CIA just awarded him $600Mio per year to give them some disposable computing power. And then suddenly you hear all these stories about government agencies willing to make the same move...

It looks like Bezos is a CIA asset.

Reptil ,

No, calling out Bernie Sanders, that's a straw man tactic. And it's not accurate. Bernie attacked Jeff Bezos (and people like him) for NOT PAYING PROPER WAGES TO EMPLOYEES. And then that the taxpayers have to pay the extra to keep the employees from starving or becoming homeless. Which is something that can be prevented by..... proper wages.

How is that even possible? Well... it's a monopoly. Not a free market. So don't pretend it is (capitalism). It is not !!!!!!!!!!

And then it's not about something STUPID like "it's the poor attacking the rich." That's childish scaremongering, to hide the truth.

That it's about modern slavery, in a runup to the 4th industrial revolution. (in which these workers will be fired)

Yes, it's about the oligarchy trying to enslave the american people, with the PISSPOOR EXCUSE that for some reason, it's capitalism to not pay proper wages.

Ah yes and Jeff Bezos of course made a deal with the treacherous CIA, that part is true. That's fascism and high treason. But who's going to enforce that? Other oligarchs? Trump? The FBI? hahaha

William Binney had a great idea. To have the states secede from the Federation. Then form inter-state relationships. This way Washington DC will be bypassed.

But expect a fight. A tough one.

Let it Go ,

I'm particularly troubled by Jeff Bezos and his connections with the CIA and deep state. The CEO of Amazon did not purchase the Washington Post in 2013 because he expected newspapers to make a lucrative resurgence. He purchased the long-trusted U.S. newspaper for the power it would ensure him in Washington and because it could be wielded as a propaganda mouthpiece to extend his ability to both shape and control public opinion.

The article below supports the opinion that since buying the Post Bezos has used it to gain wealth and power and that Amazon is a job killing exploiter monster that needs to be stopped. http://Trump And Bezos Face Off Clash Of The Titans.html

Let it Go ,

It must be noted that retailers are closing stores all across America and the impact will be huge. Online retailer Amazon is by far the chief offender causing such grief. Over the last few years, stores such as Target and Macy's have even had to face a slew of dishonest shoppers trying to sneak defectives products purchased online back as exchanges and trading them for a fresh unbroken product. I have seen this costly abuse recommended by several online shoppers that see this as an "easy fix" while simply brushing aside the ethical issues it creates.

As stores close much of this space located in the large shopping malls that once flourished in commercial zones of suburbia will grow empty and abandoned. The article below is the second of a part-two series about the retail closings that are occurring across the country and contains a suggestion as to how we can blunt the damage it will create.

http://Online Transaction Fee Could Blunt Amazon's Edge html

MrBoompi ,

The American taxpayer should not have to pay for Amazon's or WalMarts shitty wages and refusal to provide more full time jobs with benefits. This has nothing to do with punishing success. And because the CIA and Bezos are partners I wouldn't hold your breath for any changes. We now have a form of government subsidized neo-slavery.

Scipio Africanuz ,

Now, before responding to this article, I find some folks who make asinine comments are preventing responses to their comments from being seen. That's fine, they can hide but they can't evade. I'll find out soon whether zerohedge is shadow banning comments, I'll call out asinine comments directly, I'll not respond to anyone anymore, until I understand what's really going on..

Back to the article, TDB makes a robust defense of capitalist "success" and that's fine. Bezos achieved his "success" on the back of the American tax payer. The rules of the game as structured, requires that he, and his oligarch buddies pay tax, just like mom and pop, no more, no less!

I believe in free exchange, and regulated markets. This means trade should be voluntary, and markets should run on honest weights and measures. I don't believe for a nanosecond, that markets should be unregulated, that breeds fraud, theft, and manipulation.

There can be no "free unregulated market", it's the utopia of the right, just as government dominated commerce, is the utopia of the left.

Now, Bezos is an ungrateful cronyist, and I say that without apology. He ought to learn a thing or two, from Henry Ford, and the Japanese thus - take care of your profit generators (employees), and your enabling environment (society), because they're your customers!

Exceptionalist economics have given capitalism a terrible reputation.

Folks often forget that man, by inherent nature, is a communist employing capitalism to create a compassionate society (socialism). The misunderstanding has cost millions of lives in the attempt to destroy capitalism, the very principle they ought to protect. The attempts are akin to closing the nasal and oral passage ways, and yet, hope to consume oxygen.

It'd be hilarious were it not so tragic...

pitz ,

Where's Amazon's profit though? Outside of AWS, they don't make any. Usually robber baron sort of companies are outrageously profitable. Amazon actually delivers their service at a loss, and subsidizes it through their only highly successful business, AWS, which is basically a glorified bank/subprime lender.

The Amazon P/E ratio is extremely irrational, but can the government be blamed for that?

Scipio Africanuz ,

Well, Amazon is not a business, it's a surveillance agency masquerading as a business. It doesn't have to make money as it's directly subsidised by the government, and boosted by the propaganda wing of the establishment, the MSM. Once you understand this, everything becomes clear, cheers...

[Sep 10, 2018] Trump and Bernie: A Match Made in Tech Hell by Generally Risk

Sep 09, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Remember a few editions ago when I wrote in celebration of the cross-aisle cooperation between Senator Elizabeth Warren and President Donald Trump with respect to the re-engineering of the equity complex? After all, it was only a month ago. However, for those who fail this recall test, the gist of it was as follows. Senator Warren introduced a bill to regulate large corporations in a manner that de-emphasizes profits as a corporate objective, and the President sought to soften the blow by suggesting a reduction in the frequency at which company chieftains would be required to announce the certain-to-be bad news to the investing public.

At the time, I was deeply touched by the prospect of narrowing the gap between two schools of economic thought -- so deeply at odds with one another, to such deep annoyance and detriment to the well-being of the masses. However, I feared it was a "one-off".

So it brings me great pleasure to report upon the happy news that the divide continues to close. As my readers are probably aware, everyone's favorite Socialist Senior Citizen Senator: Bernie Sanders, took to the airwaves this past week to denounce the evils of what by many accounts is everyone's favorite publicly traded corporation. In live television interviews, and, of course, on Twitter, Bro Bernie entered into a full-throated denouncement of Amazon, going so far as to include a series of ad-hominem attacks on its fabulously infallible founder: one Jeff Bezos.

In doing so, Sen. Sanders joins a critical chorus led by the President, who for months has been throwing shade at the erstwhile bookseller that would take over the world. Bernie is passionately (if questionably) upset about the unfair treatment of Amazon workers. Trump is presumably most peeved at the temerity of Bezos at having taken ownership/control over the Washington Post. But both agree on one thing: the great unwashed are getting a raw deal with respect to the business arrangement between the Company and the U.S. Postal Service.

I've looked into these matters, and objectively as I can determine, this is not an open and shut case against Amazon. Yes, they're getting a government (and therefore a taxpayer) subsidy, but they are arguably performing services that would be difficult and more expensive for the post office to undertake without them – rain, sleet, snow and gloom of night notwithstanding.

Meanwhile, to their everlasting credit, both Amazon and its shareholders reacted to the rhetorical pummeling with characteristic equanimity:

It's not as though they didn't feel the sting a bit, and here, the sentimental can be forgiven if they lament the timing. Sharp-eyed observers will note a slight down-tick in the price at the more immediate, right end portion of the graph. This reversal is all the more unfortunate because on Tuesday, the day after our traditional holiday celebrating the working class, the Company's valuation joined that of Apple's as the only business enterprise ever to surpass the lofty and heretofore unimaginable $1T threshold.

But that was then; as of Friday's close, Amazon's market capitalization fell to the beggarly-by- comparison level of $952B.

It says here that Amzonians of every stripe should keep that stiff upper lip demeanor at the ready, as I suspect they may face a string of challenges before the inevitable happens, and the Company achieves full global hegemony.

Because, while the following edict did not make the cut on my "10 Commandments of Risk Management", it probably should have: any enterprise that has found itself in the cross-hairs of both Trump and Bernie has reason to worry.

And if Amazon is staring into the face of a political spit storm, so, too, perhaps, are those other lovable Tech Titans whose stock performance have so deeply enriched us in the post-crash era. Consider, if you will, the recent pricing action of a couple of other tech darlings: Facebook and Twitter, linked not only by the social media stranglehold they collectively command, but also by the fact that each company sent one of their gods down from their heavenly Silicon Valley Olympus, to earthly Washington, where each faced full-on Capitol Hill roasting:

Now, this is a Dickensian Tale of Two Stocks if ever there was one. With Zuck presumably hiding under his desk, Sheryl Sandberg taking the Congressional heat this round. In the wake of all that, Facebook managed to breach the lows registered after its historic July tanking of earnings, and is knocking on the door of breaking the bottoms recorded when Zuck had to explain away to hostile legislatures the pimping out of user data to sketchy organizations like Cambridge Analytica. By contrast, the long-besieged Twitter, which had been on an improbable profit upswing of late, managed to give back all and then-some in the wake of Jack Dorsey's Capitol Hill Star Chamber Inquisition.

Anybody notice a pattern here? Well, for me, what we're witnessing is the early innings of what I expect to be a slowly unfolding, populist/political undermining of the flower of the American Tech industry. Now, I don't expect anything overly nasty to transpire in the short term; more likely than not, the garroting of Silicon Valley high-flyers will be a multi-year proposition. Rather, I suspect that the TMT/big dogs of the NDX will more than likely reach new highs – perhaps material ones – before they face the prospect of careening, Icarus-like, to terra firma.

But if the prevailing tone – taking place as it is under a presumably business-friendly political paradigm -- is any indication, I shudder to think about what happens when the progressive elements re-assert their mojo and take hold of the control panel. And trust me, they will: if not immediately then eventually.

Of course, one cannot help but admire the way that West Coast Tech monsters – from San Diego to Seattle – have anticipated this, and attempted, and with some success, to brand themselves as torch carriers for the progressive mindset. I believe is that this will work for a while, but not into perpetuity. Eventually, they will be unmasked and vilified as the filthy, profit-seeking capitalists that they are.

And here, perhaps, is the main (if most obvious) point: as Tech goes, so goes the stock market. I don't have the exact figures handy, but I can assure you that if you review index gains over the last, say, five years, and remove the contribution of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft and Google from the equation, you're looking at a chart that, best case, is flat as a pancake. As such, I don't think that the unfolding Madam Defarge (villainess of Tale of Two Cities, known most prominently for knitting at the guillotine) dynamic that I fear may be emerging in Tech-land is much cause for celebration.

The shortened week brought a small taste of the look and feel of the new-age vibe that awaits us. Equity indices retreated, but only modestly, and in manner that failed to capture the carnage that lies beneath. I may be connecting dots too far flung to merit they're linkage, but it is not lost on me that all of the above transpired against the backdrop of a deteriorating geopolitical sneaker fire (Nike?). I won't waste much space here, but between the editorial stylings of Anonymous, the absolute (if unsuccessful) effort to turn the Kavanaugh hearings into a pig circus, the breathless anticipation of another Bob Woodward political workover, and the unfortunate ramping up of trade skirmishes, it's hard not to look at the world with a glaze in one's eyes and a growing pit in one's stomach.

But of course and as always the news by no means all bad. The Jobs Report pretty much checks every bling box, so much so that slumbering holders of longer-term U.S. debt, and sold down some of their holdings. Factset is projecting another boffo quarter at about ~+20%.

Equities, though, remain a quandary nonetheless (as do Commodities), but my hunch is that the indices will gather themselves a bit over the next few sessions, before breaking everyone's heart – yet again -- later in the month. Moreover, if the months-long pattern holds (Trump offsetting domestic political bludgeons with accretive policy actions), I would expect some happy noise from the front of the trade wars over the next several days. There'd better be, because the long knives are out against the current administration, and the only defensive weapon at their disposal is one that involves playing offense on the economy.

I'm more than willing to do my share, so, as I sign off, know that I'm logging into my Amazon Prime account to purchase a holy document called "The Art of the Deal", along with "Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In", written by one Bernie Sanders, and released on November 15, 2016, exactly one week after the author of the former book, against all odds, won the presidential election.

Who knows? Maybe Donnie and Bernie have more common ground than they realize, and if I find anything of this sort, I'll be sure to pass it along – to them, and, of course, to you.

TIMSHEL

This post is brought to you by General Risk Advisors, a full service risk solutions group. For more information, visit genriskadvisors.com .

[Sep 07, 2018] Email Security Systems Miss Thousands of Malicious Links

Sep 07, 2018 | it.slashdot.org

(betanews.com) 45 Mimecast examined more than 142 million emails that had passed through organizations' email security vendors. The latest results reveal 203,000 malicious links within 10,072,682 emails were deemed safe by other security systems -- a ratio of one unstopped malicious link for every 50 emails inspected . The report also finds an 80 percent increase impersonation attacks in comparison to last quarters' figures. Additionally, 19,086,877 pieces of spam, 13,176 emails containing dangerous file types, and 15,656 malware attachments were all missed by these incumbent security providers and delivered to users' inboxes.

[Sep 07, 2018] Yahoo, Bucking Industry, Scans Emails for Data To Sell Advertisers

Sep 07, 2018 | tech.slashdot.org

(wsj.com) 88 Yahoo still sees the practice as a potential gold mine . From a report: Yahoo's owner, the Oath unit of Verizon Communications has been pitching a service to advertisers that analyzes more than 200 million Yahoo Mail inboxes and the rich user data they contain, searching for clues about what products those users might buy, said people who have attended Oath's presentations as well as current and former employees of the company. Oath said the practice extends to AOL Mail, which it also owns. Together, they constitute the only major U.S. email provider that scans user inboxes for marketing purposes.

[Sep 07, 2018] Google's $50 Titan Security Keys Are Now Available in the US

Sep 07, 2018 | it.slashdot.org

(engadget.com) 125 Google introduced its Titan Key -- a physical security key used for two-factor authentication -- and now it's widely available for purchase in the US through company's Google Store . Almost any modern browser and mobile device, as well as services such as Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Salesforce, Stripe support the Titan Key. It's Google's take on a Fast Identity Online key, a physical device used to authenticate logins over Bluetooth. From a report: For $50, you'll get a USB security key and a Bluetooth security key as well as a USB-C to USB-A adapter and a USB-C to USB-A connecting cable. What happens if you lose them? From a report: A downside of physical keys is that if lose them, you're toast. That's why you have two keys -- one is meant to be a backup. Google says it can help you gain access to your account again but the recovery process can take days. VentureBeat adds : It's not meant to compete with other FIDO keys on the market, stressed Sam Srinivas, product management director for information security at Google, during a press pre-briefing. Rather, it's "for customers who want security keys and trust Google," he said. Further reading: None of Google's 85,000 Employees Have Been Phished in More Than a Year After Company Required Them to Use Physical Security Keys For 2FA .

[Sep 04, 2018] The USA intelligence agencies push for elimination of Microsoft software in Russia and China

As soon as some idiot declare intention to prevail in cyberwarefare, the chances for Microsoft to survive in Rusia drop. the same is true about level of usage of Google, Facebook and other social sites controlled by the USA.
Sep 04, 2018 | nationalinterest.org
Prevailing in Today's Cyber Battlefield Requires Strategic Consensus

Eisenhower's Solarium Commission on the Soviet threat provides the best model to follow today.

by Annie Fixler Follow @afixler on Twitter L Tyler Stapleton Follow @Ty_D_Stapleton on Twitter L ,

In 1953, the United States stood at a precipice. After the death that year of Soviet strongman Joseph Stalin, senior U.S. cabinet officials could not agree on how to contain and confront Soviet expansion and aggression. So President Eisenhower devised an exercise to " analyze competing national strategies " to check the Soviets where possible and roll back their advances where feasible. The White House convened three teams of leading scholars and practitioners to analyze and craft distinct strategies so that the president could review the strongest arguments, reach consensus among his advisors, and determine the direction of U.S. policy. The exercise, Project Solarium , influenced U.S. national security policy for decades.

Sixty-five years later, this project is serving as the template for addressing a new challenge. The President this month signed the John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019 which created the Cyberspace Solarium Commission to forge consensus in the face of new and diverse threats in the cyber domain.

[Sep 03, 2018] Inspired by the Atlantic Council and Ben Nimmo, Facebook deletes Craig Murray's posts since July 2017 - apparently cause he's a 'Russian bot'

Sep 03, 2018 | craigmurray.org.uk


Facebook has deleted all of my posts from July 2017 to last week because I am, apparently, a Russian Bot. For a while I could not add any new posts either, but we recently found a way around that, at least for now. To those of you tempted to say "So what?", I would point out that over two thirds of visitors to my website arrive via my posting of the articles to Facebook and Twitter. Social media outlets like this blog, which offer an alternative to MSM propaganda, are hugely at the mercy of these corporate gatekeepers.

Facebook's plunge into censorship is completely open and admitted, as is the fact it is operated for Facebook by the Atlantic Council - the extreme neo-con group part funded by NATO and whose board includes serial war criminal Henry Kissinger, Former CIA Heads Michael Hayden and Michael Morrell, and George Bush's chief of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff , among a whole list of horrors .

The staff are worse than the Board. Their lead expert on Russian bot detection is an obsessed nutter named Ben Nimmo, whose fragile grip on reality has been completely broken by his elevation to be the internet's Witchfinder-General. Nimmo, grandly titled "Senior Fellow for Information Defense at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab", is the go-to man for Establishment rubbishing of citizen journalists, and as with Joseph McCarthy or Matthew Clarke, one day society will sufficiently recover its balance for it to be generally acknowledged that this kind of witch-hunt nonsense was not just an aberration, but a manifestation of the evil it claimed to fight.

There is no Establishment cause Nimmo will not aid by labeling its opponents as Bots. This from the Herald newspaper two days ago, where Nimmo uncovers the secret web of Scottish Nationalist bots that dominate the internet, and had the temerity to question the stitch-up of Alex Salmond.

Nimmo's proof? 2,000 people had used the hashtag #Dissolvetheunion on a total of 10,000 tweets in a week. That's five tweets per person on average. In a week. Obviously a massive bot-plot, eh?

When Ben's great expose for the Herald was met with widespread ridicule , he doubled down on it by producing his evidence - a list of the top ten bots he had uncovered in this research. Except that they are almost all, to my certain knowledge, not bots but people . But do not decry Ben's fantastic forensic skills, for which NATO and the CIA fund the Atlantic Council. Ben's number one suspect was definitely a bot. He had got the evil kingpin. He had seen through its identity despite its cunning disguise. That disguise included its name, IsthisAB0T, and its profile, where it called itself a bot for retweets on Independence. Thank goodness for Ben Nimmo, or nobody would ever have seen through that evil, presumably Kremlin-hatched, plan.

No wonder the Atlantic Council advertise Nimmo and his team as " Digital Sherlocks ".

[Aug 29, 2018] How the Department of Homeland Security Created a Deceptive Tale of Russia Hacking US Voter Sites

Notable quotes:
"... Special to Consortium News ..."
"... The Wall Street Journal ..."
"... The Washington Post. ..."
"... Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare ..."
"... If you valued this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one. ..."
Aug 29, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

August 28, 2018 • 9 Comments

Save

The narrative about Russian cyberattacks on American election infrastructure is a self-interested abuse of power by DHS based on distortion of evidence, writes Gareth Porter.

By Gareth Porter
Special to Consortium News

The narrative of Russian intelligence attacking state and local election boards and threatening the integrity of U.S. elections has achieved near-universal acceptance by media and political elites. And now it has been accepted by the Trump administration's intelligence chief, Dan Coats , as well.

But the real story behind that narrative, recounted here for the first time, reveals that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) created and nurtured an account that was grossly and deliberately deceptive.

DHS compiled an intelligence report suggesting hackers linked to the Russian government could have targeted voter-related websites in many states and then leaked a sensational story of Russian attacks on those sites without the qualifications that would have revealed a different story. When state election officials began asking questions, they discovered that the DHS claims were false and, in at least one case, laughable.

The National Security Agency and special counsel Robert Mueller's investigating team have also claimed evidence that Russian military intelligence was behind election infrastructure hacking, but on closer examination, those claims turn out to be speculative and misleading as well. Mueller's indictment of 12 GRU military intelligence officers does not cite any violations of U.S. election laws though it claims Russia interfered with the 2016 election.

A Sensational Story

On Sept. 29, 2016, a few weeks after the hacking of election-related websites in Illinois and Arizona, ABC News carried a sensational headline: "Russian Hackers Targeted Nearly Half of States' Voter Registration Systems, Successfully Infiltrated 4." The story itself reported that "more than 20 state election systems" had been hacked, and four states had been "breached" by hackers suspected of working for the Russian government. The story cited only sources "knowledgeable" about the matter, indicating that those who were pushing the story were eager to hide the institutional origins of the information.

(Erik Hersman/CC BY 2.0)

Behind that sensational story was a federal agency seeking to establish its leadership within the national security state apparatus on cybersecurity, despite its limited resources for such responsibility. In late summer and fall 2016, the Department of Homeland Security was maneuvering politically to designate state and local voter registration databases and voting systems as "critical infrastructure." Such a designation would make voter-related networks and websites under the protection a "priority sub-sector" in the DHS "National Infrastructure Protection Plan, which already included 16 such sub-sectors.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson and other senior DHS officials consulted with many state election officials in the hope of getting their approval for such a designation. Meanwhile, the DHS was finishing an intelligence report that would both highlight the Russian threat to U.S. election infrastructure and the role DHS could play in protecting it, thus creating political impetus to the designation. But several secretaries of state -- the officials in charge of the election infrastructure in their state -- strongly opposed the designation that Johnson wanted.

On Jan. 6, 2017 -- the same day three intelligence agencies released a joint "assessment" on Russian interference in the election -- Johnson announced the designation anyway.

Media stories continued to reflect the official assumption that cyber attacks on state election websites were Russian-sponsored. Stunningly, The Wall Street Journal reported in December 2016 that DHS was itself behind hacking attempts of Georgia's election database.

The facts surrounding the two actual breaches of state websites in Illinois and Arizona, as well as the broader context of cyberattacks on state websites, didn't support that premise at all.

In July, Illinois discovered an intrusion into its voter registration website and the theft of personal information on as many as 200,000 registered voters . (The 2018 Mueller indictments of GRU officers would unaccountably put the figure at 500,000 . ) Significantly, however, the hackers only had copied the information and had left it unchanged in the database.

That was a crucial clue to the motive behind the hack. DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment told a Congressional committee in late September 2016 that the fact hackers hadn't tampered with the voter data indicated that the aim of the theft was not to influence the electoral process. Instead, it was "possibly for the purpose of selling personal information." Ozment was contradicting the line that already was being taken on the Illinois and Arizona hacks by the National Protection and Programs Directorate and other senior DHS officials.

In an interview with me last year, Ken Menzel, the legal adviser to the Illinois secretary of state, confirmed what Ozment had testified. "Hackers have been trying constantly to get into it since 2006," Menzel said, adding that they had been probing every other official Illinois database with such personal data for vulnerabilities as well. "Every governmental database -- driver's licenses, health care, you name it -- has people trying to get into it," said Menzel.

In the other successful cyberattack on an electoral website, hackers had acquired the username and password for the voter database Arizona used during the summer, as Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan learned from the FBI. But the reason that it had become known, according to Reagan in an interview with Mother Jones , was that the login and password had shown up for sale on the dark web -- the network of websites used by cyber criminals to sell stolen data and other illicit wares.

Furthermore, the FBI had told her that the effort to penetrate the database was the work of a "known hacker" whom the FBI had monitored "frequently" in the past. Thus, there were reasons to believe that both Illinois and Arizona hacking incidents were linked to criminal hackers seeking information they could sell for profit.

Meanwhile, the FBI was unable to come up with any theory about what Russia might have intended to do with voter registration data such as what was taken in the Illinois hack. When FBI Counterintelligence official Bill Priestap was asked in a June 2017 hearing how Moscow might use such data, his answer revealed that he had no clue: "They took the data to understand what it consisted of," said the struggling Priestap, "so they can affect better understanding and plan accordingly in regards to possibly impacting future elections by knowing what is there and studying it."

The inability to think of any plausible way for the Russian government to use such data explains why DHS and the intelligence community adopted the argument, as senior DHS officials Samuel Liles and Jeanette Manfra put it, that the hacks "could be intended or used to undermine public confidence in electoral processes and potentially the outcome." But such a strategy could not have had any effect without a decision by DHS and the U.S. intelligence community to assert publicly that the intrusions and other scanning and probing were Russian operations, despite the absence of hard evidence. So DHS and other agencies were consciously sowing public doubts about U.S. elections that they were attributing to Russia.

DHS Reveals Its Self-Serving Methodology

In June 2017, Liles and Manfra testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that an October 2016 DHS intelligence report had listed election systems in 21 states that were "potentially targeted by Russian government cyber actors." They revealed that the sensational story leaked to the press in late September 2016 had been based on a draft of the DHS report. And more importantly, their use of the phrase "potentially targeted" showed that they were arguing only that the cyber incidents it listed were possible indications of a Russian attack on election infrastructure.

Furthermore, Liles and Manfra said the DHS report had "catalogued suspicious activity we observed on state government networks across the country," which had been "largely based on suspected malicious tactics and infrastructure." They were referring to a list of eight IP addresses an August 2016 FBI "flash alert" had obtained from the Illinois and Arizona intrusions, which DHS and FBI had not been able to attribute to the Russian government.

Manfra: No doubt it was the Russians. (C-SPAN)

The DHS officials recalled that the DHS began to "receive reports of cyber-enabled scanning and probing of election-related infrastructure in some states, some of which appeared to originate from servers operated by a Russian company." Six of the eight IP addresses in the FBI alert were indeed traced to King Servers, owned by a young Russian living in Siberia. But as DHS cyber specialists knew well, the country of ownership of the server doesn't prove anything about who was responsible for hacking: As cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr pointed out , the Russian hackers who coordinated the Russian attack on Georgian government websites in 2008 used a Texas-based company as the hosting provider.

The cybersecurity firm ThreatConnect noted in 2016 that one of the other two IP addresses had hosted a Russian criminal market for five months in 2015. But that was not a serious indicator, either. Private IP addresses are reassigned frequently by server companies, so there is not a necessary connection between users of the same IP address at different times.

The DHS methodology of selecting reports of cyber incidents involving election-related websites as "potentially targeted" by Russian government-sponsored hackers was based on no objective evidence whatever. The resulting list appears to have included any one of the eight addresses as well as any attack or "scan" on a public website that could be linked in any way to elections.

This methodology conveniently ignored the fact that criminal hackers were constantly trying to get access to every database in those same state, country and municipal systems. Not only for Illinois and Arizona officials, but state electoral officials.

In fact, 14 of the 21 states on the list experienced nothing more than the routine scanning that occurs every day, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee . Only six involved what was referred to as a "malicious access attempt," meaning an effort to penetrate the site. One of them was in Ohio, where the attempt to find a weakness lasted less than a second and was considered by DHS's internet security contractor a "non-event" at the time.

State Officials Force DHS to Tell the Truth

For a year, DHS did not inform the 21 states on its list that their election boards or other election-related sites had been attacked in a presumed Russian-sponsored operation. The excuse DHS officials cited was that it could not reveal such sensitive intelligence to state officials without security clearances. But the reluctance to reveal the details about each case was certainly related to the reasonable expectation that states would publicly challenge their claims, creating a potential serious embarrassment.

On Sept. 22, 2017, DHS notified 21 states about the cyber incidents that had been included in the October 2016 report. The public announcement of the notifications said DHS had notified each chief election officer of "any potential targeting we were aware of in their state leading up to the 2016 election." The phrase "potential targeting" again telegraphed the broad and vague criterion DHS had adopted, but it was ignored in media stories.

But the notifications, which took the form of phone calls lasting only a few minutes, provided a minimum of information and failed to convey the significant qualification that DHS was only suggesting targeting as a possibility. "It was a couple of guys from DHS reading from a script," recalled one state election official who asked not to be identified. "They said [our state] was targeted by Russian government cyber actors."

A number of state election officials recognized that this information conflicted with what they knew. And if they complained, they got a more accurate picture from DHS. After Wisconsin Secretary of State Michael Haas demanded further clarification, he got an email response from a DHS official with a different account. "[B]ased on our external analysis," the official wrote, "the WI [Wisconsin] IP address affected belongs to the WI Department of Workforce Development, not the Elections Commission."

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla said DHS initially had notified his office "that Russian cyber actors 'scanned' California's Internet-facing systems in 2016, including Secretary of State websites." But under further questioning, DHS admitted to Padilla that what the hackers had targeted was the California Department of Technology's network.

Texas Secretary of State Rolando Pablos and Oklahoma Election Board spokesman Byron Dean also denied that any state website with voter- or election-related information had been targeted, and Pablos demanded that DHS "correct its erroneous notification."

Despite these embarrassing admissions, a statement issued by DHS spokesman Scott McConnell on Sept. 28, 2017 said the DHS "stood by" its assessment that 21 states "were the target of Russian government cyber actors seeking vulnerabilities and access to U.S. election infrastructure." The statement retreated from the previous admission that the notifications involved "potential targeting," but it also revealed for the first time that DHS had defined "targeting" very broadly indeed.

It said the category included "some cases" involving "direct scanning of targeted systems" but also cases in which "malicious actors scanned for vulnerabilities in networks that may be connected to those systems or have similar characteristics in order to gain information about how to later penetrate their target."

It is true that hackers may scan one website in the hope of learning something that could be useful for penetrating another website, as cybersecurity expert Prof. Herbert S. Lin of Stanford University explained to me in an interview. But including any incident in which that motive was theoretical meant that any state website could be included on the DHS list, without any evidence it was related to a political motive.

Arizona's further exchanges with DHS revealed just how far DHS had gone in exploiting that escape clause in order to add more states to its "targeted" list. Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan tweeted that DHS had informed her that "the Russian government targeted our voter registration systems in 2016." After meeting with DHS officials in early October 2017, however, Reagan wrote in a blog post that DHS "could not confirm that any attempted Russian government hack occurred whatsoever to any election-related system in Arizona, much less the statewide voter registration database."

What the DHS said in that meeting, as Reagan's spokesman Matt Roberts recounted to me, is even more shocking. "When we pressed DHS on what exactly was actually targeted, they said it was the Phoenix public library's computers system," Roberts recalled.

National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Md. (Wikimedia)

In April 2018, a CBS News "60 Minutes" segment reported that the October 2016 DHS intelligence report had included the Russian government hacking of a "county database in Arizona." Responding to that CBS report, an unidentified "senior Trump administration official" who was well-briefed on the DHS report told Reuters that "media reports" on the issue had sometimes "conflated criminal hacking with Russian government activity," and that the cyberattack on the target in Arizona "was not perpetrated by the Russian government."

NSA Finds a GRU Election Plot

NSA intelligence analysts claimed in a May 2017 analysis to have documented an effort by Russian military intelligence (GRU) to hack into U.S. electoral institutions. In an intelligence analysis obtained by The Intercept and reported in June 2017, NSA analysts wrote that the GRU had sent a spear-phishing email -- one with an attachment designed to look exactly like one from a trusted institution but that contains malware design to get control of the computer -- to a vendor of voting machine technology in Florida. The hackers then designed a fake web page that looked like that of the vendor. They sent it to a list of 122 email addresses NSA believed to be local government organizations that probably were "involved in the management of voter registration systems." The objective of the new spear-phishing campaign, the NSA suggested, was to get control of their computers through malware to carry out the exfiltration of voter-related data.

But the authors of The Intercept story failed to notice crucial details in the NSA report that should have tipped them off that the attribution of the spear-phishing campaign to the GRU was based merely on the analysts' own judgment -- and that their judgment was faulty.

The Intercept article included a color-coded chart from the original NSA report that provides crucial information missing from the text of the NSA analysis itself as well as The Intercept 's account. The chart clearly distinguishes between the elements of the NSA's account of the alleged Russian scheme that were based on "Confirmed Information" (shown in green) and those that were based on "Analyst Judgment" (shown in yellow). The connection between the "operator" of the spear-phishing campaign the report describes and an unidentified entity confirmed to be under the authority of the GRU is shown as a yellow line, meaning that it is based on "Analyst Judgment" and labeled "probably."

A major criterion for any attribution of a hacking incident is whether there are strong similarities to previous hacks identified with a specific actor. But the chart concedes that "several characteristics" of the campaign depicted in the report distinguish it from "another major GRU spear-phishing program," the identity of which has been redacted from the report.

The NSA chart refers to evidence that the same operator also had launched spear-phishing campaigns on other web-based mail applications, including the Russian company "Mail.ru." Those targets suggest that the actors were more likely Russian criminal hackers rather than Russian military intelligence.

Even more damaging to its case, the NSA reports that the same operator who had sent the spear-phishing emails also had sent a test email to the "American Samoa Election Office." Criminal hackers could have been interested in personal information from the database associated with that office. But the idea that Russian military intelligence was planning to hack the voter rolls in American Samoa, an unincorporated U.S. territory with 56,000 inhabitants who can't even vote in U.S. presidential elections, is plainly risible.

The Mueller Indictment's Sleight of Hand

The Mueller indictment of GRU officers released on July 13 appeared at first reading to offer new evidence of Russian government responsibility for the hacking of Illinois and other state voter-related websites. A close analysis of the relevant paragraphs, however, confirms the lack of any real intelligence supporting that claim.

Mueller accused two GRU officers of working with unidentified "co-conspirators" on those hacks. But the only alleged evidence linking the GRU to the operators in the hacking incidents is the claim that a GRU official named Anatoly Kovalev and "co-conspirators" deleted search history related to the preparation for the hack after the FBI issued its alert on the hacking identifying the IP address associated with it in August 2016.

A careful reading of the relevant paragraphs shows that the claim is spurious. The first sentence in Paragraph 71 says that both Kovalev and his "co-conspirators" researched domains used by U.S. state boards of elections and other entities "for website vulnerabilities." The second says Kovalev and "co-conspirators" had searched for "state political party email addresses, including filtered queries for email addresses listed on state Republican Party websites."

Mueller: Don't read the fine print. (The White House/Wikimedia)

Searching for website vulnerabilities would be evidence of intent to hack them, of course, but searching Republican Party websites for email addresses is hardly evidence of any hacking plan. And Paragraph 74 states that Kovalev "deleted his search history" -- not the search histories of any "co-conspirator" -- thus revealing that there were no joint searches and suggesting that the subject Kovalev had searched was Republican Party emails. So any deletion by Kovalev of his search history after the FBI alert would not be evidence of his involvement in the hacking of the Illinois election board website.

With this rhetorical misdirection unraveled, it becomes clear that the repetition in every paragraph of the section of the phrase "Kovalev and his co-conspirators" was aimed at giving the reader the impression the accusation is based on hard intelligence about possible collusion that doesn't exist.

The Need for Critical Scrutiny of DHS Cyberattack Claims

The DHS campaign to establish its role as the protector of U.S. electoral institutions is not the only case in which that agency has used a devious means to sow fear of Russian cyberattacks. In December 2016, DHS and the FBI published a long list of IP addresses as indicators of possible Russian cyberattacks. But most of the addresses on the list had no connection with Russian intelligence, as former U.S. government cyber-warfare officer Rob Lee found on close examination .

When someone at the Burlington, Vt., Electric Company spotted one of those IP addresses on one of its computers, the company reported it to DHS. But instead of quietly investigating the address to verify that it was indeed an indicator of Russian intrusion, DHS immediately informed The Washington Post. The result was a sensational story that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. power grid. In fact, the IP address in question was merely Yahoo's email server, as Rob Lee told me, and the computer had not even been connected to the power grid. The threat to the power grid was a tall tale created by a DHS official, which the Post had to embarrassingly retract.

Since May 2017, DHS, in partnership with the FBI, has begun an even more ambitious campaign to focus public attention on what it says are Russian "targeting" and "intrusions" into "major, high value assets that operate components of our Nation's critical infrastructure", including energy, nuclear, water, aviation and critical manufacturing sectors. Any evidence of such an intrusion must be taken seriously by the U.S. government and reported by news media. But in light of the DHS record on alleged threats to election infrastructure and the Burlington power grid, and its well-known ambition to assume leadership over cyber protection, the public interest demands that the news media examine DHS claims about Russian cyber threats far more critically than they have up to now.

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare .

If you valued this original article, please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.


David G , August 29, 2018 at 2:42 am

From yesterday's (8/28) NY Times, p. A19, Corrections:

"An article on Thursday [print edition; Wednesday web] about a suspected hacking of the Democratic National Committee misstated what cybersecurity officials said about hackers' efforts to gain access to the organization's voter database. The officials said the hackers *may* have sent so-called spearphishing emails to D.N.C. officials, not that they *did* send such emails."
[*emphasis added*]

Charming. But wait, there's more!

Unmentioned in this correction is that the entire original article was rendered nugatory the next day (i.e. last Thursday), when the Times reported that (oops), "[t]he suspected hacking attempt of the Democratic National Committee's voter database this week was a false alarm, and the unusual activity that raised concern was merely a test, party officials said on Thursday."

But while the original article – which had "Russia" sprinkled liberally throughout, despite no claim of a Russian connection to the alleged attempted hack being reported – appeared in the print edition (8/23), the follow-up saying the whole thing was just a mistake and never-mind was web-only. (This puts the Times's motto "All the news that's fit to print", if taken literally, in a curious new light.)

And (to repeat) the correction in yesterday's paper referred only to the original article on an alleged hacking attempt, not to the followup article saying it never happened.

And so it goes.

Craig , August 29, 2018 at 1:40 am

I had impression that they said that there was not found that voter sites had been hacked.
Has it not been great propaganda campaign?

Gen Dao , August 29, 2018 at 12:22 am

Another great report by Gareth Porter. It should be top news at NYT, WaPo, CNN, and MSNBC, but unfortunately it won't be, because all four have degenerated into military industrial surveillance state propaganda outlets. Russiagate is the biggest hoax since Iraqi WMDs and Remember the Maine! If we didn't have outstanding real journalists like Porter, we would probably be at war with Russia right now. What this article shows very clearly is that our electoral system is under constant assault from criminal elements and political cheaters. We need to be having a national conversation right now on eliminating all digital voting machines and switching to paper ballots, but any questioning of the present system would upset the present advanced state of voter electoral fraud in the US and those who profit from it. Blaming electoral corruption and cheating in the US on a foreign boogeyman such as Russia (soon it will probably be China) is pretty obviously a method of hiding the real, domestic sources of various kinds of US electoral wrongdoing and of ensuring that those sources, including the so-called deep state, will continue to be able to operate effectively. The Clinton wing of the Dem Party is not the only group that regards election rigging as a justifiable means to a "good" end. I look forward to Mr. Porter's further research.

Gary Weglarz , August 28, 2018 at 11:30 pm

Events in the physical world now are simply unimportant sidelights since – "reality" – as it is reported in media – is completely fabricated and concocted out of thin air within the very mediocre brains of the numbskulls fronting for this dying empire. Corruption is as corruption does – I think Forrest Gump's mother said that.

KiwiAntz , August 29, 2018 at 1:27 am

Forest Gump's Mama said " Stupid is, as stupid does"! Sounds like the perfect logo to describe the American Nation State? A stupid Nation run by stupider people!

Jeff Harrison , August 28, 2018 at 6:15 pm

Lies, Damned Lies, and Government press releases. The real question is how long it will take before the American people really refuse to take the government at its word and demand proof. One of the worst things that the regime in Washington can do is to make American citizens mistrustful of the government.

KiwiAntz , August 29, 2018 at 1:20 am

The American people are completely gaslighted beyond belief & "captured" by their corrupt Govt & Leaders, to such an extent, that they will not question or dispute their Govt's narratives? Never has a Nation's citizens been so successfully brainwashed, in all of human history, as the American people have been & the only comparison that can be found is how Hitler & the Nazi's successfully hoodwinked the german people! The exception here is the American citizens, who frequent this website & are awake to their Govt's gross corruption & immoral actions around the globe! The rest of the US populace is asleep & want to stay that way?

john wilson , August 29, 2018 at 2:20 am

Well, KiwiAntz, you're probably right, but I think the accolade for stupidity, idiocy and acquiesce goes to we British people. Sheep are one of the worlds most common agricultural animals and we've got lots of them over here in the UK.

Dr. Ip , August 29, 2018 at 2:57 am

Since when have American citizens NOT been mistrustful of the government?

[Aug 28, 2018] Goodbye to All That by Judith Coburn

Notable quotes:
"... After 40 years as a journalist for a variety of media outlets, none of them fake, ..."
"... Judith Coburn became a private eye, specializing in death-penalty cases and searches for people whom filmmakers and writers want to find for their movies and books. ..."
Aug 28, 2018 | www.unz.com

Now that we know we are surveilled 24/7 by the National Security Agency , the FBI, local police, Facebook , LinkedIn , Google, hackers, the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, data brokers, private spyware groups like Black Cube , and companies from which we've ordered swag on the Internet, is there still any "right to be forgotten," as the Europeans call it? Is there any privacy left, let alone a right to privacy ?

In a world in which most people reveal their intimate secrets voluntarily, posting them on social media and ignoring the pleas of security experts to protect their data with strong passwords -- don't use your birth date, your telephone number, or your dog's name -- shouldn't a private investigator, or PI, like me be as happy as a pig in shit? Certainly, the totalitarian rulers of the twentieth century would have been, if such feckless openness had been theirs to abuse.

As it happens, tech -- or surveillance capitalism -- has disrupted the private investigation business as much as it's ripped through journalism, the taxi business , war making, and so many other private and public parts of our world. And it's not only celebrities and presidential candidates whose privacy hackers have burned through. Israeli spyware can steal the contacts off your phone just as LinkedIn did to market itself to your friends. Google, the Associated Press reported recently , archives your location even when you've turned off your phone. Huge online database brokers like Tracers , TLO , and IRBsearch that law enforcement and private eyes like me use can trace your address, phone numbers, email addresses, social media accounts, family members, neighbors, credit reports, the property you own, foreclosures or bankruptcies you've experienced, court judgments or liens against you, and criminal records you may have rolled up over the years.

Ten years ago, to subscribe to one of these databases, I had to show proof that I was indeed a licensed investigator and pass an on-site investigation to ensure that any data I downloaded would be protected. I was required to have a surveillance camera and burglar alarm on the building where my office was located, as well as a dead bolt on my office door, a locked filing cabinet, and double passwords to get into my computer. Now, most database brokers just require a PI or attorney license and you can sign right up online. Government records -- federal and state, civil and criminal -- are also increasingly online for anyone to access.

The authoritarian snoops of the last century would have drooled over the surveillance uses of the smartphones that most of us now carry. Smartphones have, in fact, become one of the primo law enforcement tools other than the Internet. "Find my iPhone" can even find a dead body -- if, that is, the victim left her iPhone on while being murdered. And don't get me started on the proliferation of surveillance cameras in our world.

Take me. I had a classic case that shows just how traceable we all now are. There was a dead body, a possible murder victim, but no direct evidence: no witnesses, no DNA, no fingerprints, and no murder weapon found. In San Francisco's East Bay, however, as in most big American cities, there are so many surveillance cameras mounted on mom-and-pop stores, people's houses, bars, cafes, hospitals, toll bridges, tunnels, even in parks, that the police can collect enough video, block by block, to effectively map a suspect driving around Oakland for hours before hitting the freeway and heading out to dump a body, just as the defendant in my case did.

Once upon a time, cops and dirty private eyes would have had to attach trackers to the undercarriages of cars to follow them electronically. No longer. The particular suspect I have in mind drove his victim's car across a bridge, where cameras videotaped the license plate but couldn't see inside the car; nor, he must have assumed, could anyone record him on the deserted road he finally reached where he was undoubtedly confident that he was safe. What he didn't notice was the CALFIRE video camera placed on that very road to monitor for brush fires. It caught a car's headlights matching his on its way to the site he had chosen to dump the body. There was no direct evidence of the murder he had committed, just circumstantial, tech-based evidence. A jury, however, convicted him in just a few hours.

A World of Tech Junkies

In our world of the unforgotten, tech is seen as a wonder of wonders. Juries love tech. Many jurors think tech is simply science and so beyond disbelief. As a result, they tend to react badly when experts are called as defense witnesses to disabuse them of their belief in tech's magic powers: that, for instance, cellphone calls don't always pinpoint exactly where someone was when he or she made a call. If too many signals are coming in to the closest tower to a cell phone, a suspect's calls may be rerouted to a more distant tower. Similarly, the FBI's computerized fingerprint index often makes mistakes in its matches, as do police labs when it comes to DNA samples. And facial recognition systems, the hottest new tech thing around (and spreading like wildfire across China ), may be the most unreliable of all, although that certainly hasn't stopped Amazon from marketing a surveillance camera with facial recognition abilities.

These days, it's hard to be a PI and not become a tech junkie. Some PIs use tech to probe tech, specializing, for example, in email investigations in big corporate cases in which they pore through thousands of emails. I recently asked a colleague what it was like. "It's great," he said. "You don't have to leave your office and for the first couple of weeks you entertain yourself finding out who's having affairs with whom and who's gunning for whom in the target's office, but after that it's unspeakably tedious and goes on for months, even years."

When I started out, undoubtedly having read too many Raymond Chandler and Sue Grafton novels, I thought that to be a real private eye I had to do the old-fashioned kind of surveillance where you actually follow someone in person. So I agreed to tail a deadbeat mom who claimed to be unemployed and wanted more alimony from her ex. She turned out to be a scofflaw driver, too, a regular runner of red lights. (Being behind her, I was the one who got the tickets, which I tried to bill on my expense report to no avail.) But tailing her turned out to make no difference, except to my bank account. Nor did tech. Court papers had already given us her phone and address but no job information. Finally, I found her moonlighting at a local government office. How? The no-tech way: simply by phoning an office where one of her relatives worked and asking for her. "Not in today," said the receptionist helpfully and I knew what I needed to know. It couldn't have been less dramatic or noir -ish.

These days, tech is so omnipresent and omnivorous that many lawyers think everything can be found on the Internet. Two lawyers working on a death-penalty appeal once came to see me about working on their case. There had been a murder at a gas station in Oakland 10 years earlier. Police reports from the time indicated that there was a notorious "trap house" where crack addicts were squatting across from the gas station. The lawyers wanted me to find and interview some of those addicts to discover whether they'd seen anything that night. It would be a quick job, they assured me. (Translation: they would pay me chump change.) I could just find them on the Internet.

I thought they were kidding. Crack addicts aren't exactly known for their Internet presence. (They may have cell phones, but they tend not to generate phone bills, rental leases, utility bills, school records, mortgages, or any of the other kinds of databases collect that you might normally rely on to find your quarry.) This was, I argued, an old-fashioned shoe-leather-style investigation: go to the gas station and the trap house (if it still existed), knock on doors to see if neighbors knew where the former drug addicts might now be: Dead? Still on that very street? Recovered and long gone?

In a world where high-tech is king, I didn't get the job and I doubt they found their witnesses either.

You'd think that, in a time when tech is the story of the day, month, and year and a presidential assistant is even taping without permission in the White House Situation Room, anything goes. But not for this aging PI. I mean, really, should I rush over to a belly-dancing class in Berkeley to see if some guy's fiancée and the teacher go back to her motel together? (No.) Should I break into an ex-lover's house to steal memos she'd written to get him fired? (Are you kidding?) Should I eavesdrop on a phone call in which a wife is trying to get her husband to admit that he battered her? (Not in California, where the law requires permission from every party in a phone call to be on the line, thereby wiping out such eavesdropping as an investigative tool -- only cops with a warrant being exempt.)

I certainly know PIs who would take such cases and I'm not exactly squeaky clean myself. After all, as a journalist working for Ramparts magazine back in the 1960s, I broke into the basement of the National Student Association (with another reporter) to steal files showing that the group's leaders were working for the CIA and that the agency actually owned the very building they occupied. In a similar fashion, on a marginally legal peep-and-trespass in those same years, another reporter and I crawled through bushes on the grounds of a VA Hospital in Maryland where we had been told that we could find a replica of a Vietnamese village being used to train American assassins in the CIA's Phoenix program . That so-called pacification program would, in the end, kill more than 26,000 Vietnamese civilians. We found the "village," secretly watched some of the training, and filed the first piece about that infamously murderous program for New York's Village Voice .

Those ops were, however, in the service of a higher ideal, much like smartphone videographers today who shoot police violence. But most of surveillance capitalism is really about making sure that no one in our new world can ever be forgotten. PIs chasing perps in divorce cases are a small but tawdry part of just that. But what about, to take an extreme case in which the sleazy meets the new tech world big time, the FBI's pursuit of lovers of kiddy porn, which I learned something about by taking such a case? The FBI emails a link to a fake website that it's created to all the contacts a known child pornographer has on his computer or phone. It has the kind of bland come-on pornographers tend to use. If you click on that link, you get a menu advertising yet more links to photos with titles like "my 4-year-old daughter taking a bath." Click on any of those links and you'll be anything but forgotten. The FBI will be at your door with cuffs within days.

Does someone who devours child porn have a right to be forgotten? Maybe you don't think so, but what about the rest of us? Do we? It's hardly a question anymore.

The Good and Ugly Gotchas of This Era

When all the surveillance techniques on those information databases work, it's like three lemons lining up on a one-armed bandit. Recently, for instance, a California filmmaker called me, desperate. She was producing a movie about the first Nepalese woman to climb Mount Everest. Her team had indeed reached the summit, but were buried in an avalanche on the way down with only one survivor. The filmmaker wanted to find that man.

Could I do so? She didn't have enough money to send me to Nepal. (Rats!) But couldn't I find him on the Internet? His name, she told me, was Pemba Sherpa. What's his family name, I asked? That's when I found out that "sherpa" isn't just a Western term for Nepalese who guide people up mountains; it's the surname of many Nepalese. Great! That's like asking me to find John Smith with no birthdate, social security number, address, or even the Nepalese equivalent of the state where he lives. In my mind's eye, I could instantly see my database search coming up with the always frustrating "your search criteria resulted in too many records found." I also had my doubts that, despite the globalization of our tech world, most Nepalese were on the Internet.

Amazingly, however, checking out "sherpas," I promptly found a single Pemba in my search, unfortunately with -- the bane of a PI's life -- not another piece of information.

Okay, Google, I thought, it's all yours. No Pemba on the first five pages of my search there. (Groan.) But it was late at night and I was feeling obsessive, so I kept going. (Note to home investigators: don't give up on Google after those first few pages.) From earlier research, I had discovered that one of the main Nepalese communities outside that country was in Portland, Oregon, where many mountaineering companies are also based. On maybe my 28th Google page, I suddenly saw a link to a Portland alternative newspaper story from the mid-1990s. (Who was even scanning in such articles back then?)

I clicked on it. The piece was about a Portland Pemba Sherpa who had gone back to his native village to help its inhabitants get electricity. The article went on to say that he had left Nepal "because too many of his friends had died on the mountain." Hmmm. It also reported that he was married to a mathematics teacher at a Portland community college.

We're talking about a more-than-20-year-old article! Still, the next morning I doggedly called the college and yes, his wife was teaching math there. I was patched through to the math department where, yes again, the wife picked up and, yes, her husband was the sole survivor of that climb, and she was sure he'd want to be interviewed for the movie.

Bingo! The actual wonders of the Internet and a heartwarming story about someone who needed to be found. Finding an ancient nanny to invite to the wedding of a guy she had raised -- after they had been out of contact for decades -- proved a similarly happy search. But that's rare. The question, not just for PIs but for all of us, is this: Should everyone be so track down-able, even if they don't wish to be? Some investigators, in the spirit of the moment, think that if there's an unknowable about anyone, it should be uncovered. The journalist who outed novelist Elsa Ferrante really thought he'd done something, but it was just another in an increasing number of mean-spirited gotchas of our era.

Why do people need privacy anyway? The freedom and community that Internet utopians promised us has led instead to the scraping open of our lives by law enforcement, social media, hackers, marketers, and the world's governments. Now we're left largely to our own devices when it comes to what little we can do about it and the global surveillance culture that it's enmeshed all of us in.

Back in the late 1960s, Erwin Knoll, editor of the Progressive magazine, made President Richard Nixon's enemy list. That qualified him to be wiretapped by the FBI, so he asked his wife Doris to call female friends every day and discourse on grisly gynecological matters to disturb the listening agents (mostly male in those days). Erwin wondered if they wouldn't think it was some kind of code.

Alexa ! I just got back from my gynecologist and

After 40 years as a journalist for a variety of media outlets, none of them fake, TomDispatch regular Judith Coburn became a private eye, specializing in death-penalty cases and searches for people whom filmmakers and writers want to find for their movies and books.

[Aug 24, 2018] Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives

Notable quotes:
"... The boundaries for paranoia are moving rapidly. Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives. ..."
"... Inertia, or even misplaced patriotism over US corporations like Facebook, is the road to hell. ..."
"... The Second Amendment make specific provision for the people's right to prevent tyranny by their government in the material world. So far, the Constitution lacks a similar provision preventing government tyranny in cyberspace. This does not mean that defense of this right should be fought for any less vigorously and in the 21st century I'd consider it at least as important. ..."
"... Zuck and his ilk Sandberg are doing CYA and using those who have contacts inside the beltway. ..."
Aug 24, 2018 | disqus.com

Barbara Ann 16 hours ago

Is there something wrong with this picture, or am I just being overly suspicious or even paranoid?

No, just "inauthentic".

The boundaries for paranoia are moving rapidly. Trump's election appears to have caused the security state to move into overdrive and in its haste drop almost all pretense re the attempts to control access to dissenting narratives. I truly fear for SST in this fast-deteriorating environment. If Trump's presidency does nothing else but bring the thought-control swamp to the attention of the masses, he will have done his country a great service.

RaisingMac has the right idea.

Rights waste away unless frequently exercised and 'voting' to switch to less censorious platforms is a vital part of defending the right to free speech. Inertia, or even misplaced patriotism over US corporations like Facebook, is the road to hell.

The Second Amendment make specific provision for the people's right to prevent tyranny by their government in the material world. So far, the Constitution lacks a similar provision preventing government tyranny in cyberspace. This does not mean that defense of this right should be fought for any less vigorously and in the 21st century I'd consider it at least as important.

Pat Lang Mod Barbara Ann 11 hours ago ,

I, too, fear for SST. If there is silence one day it will be a case of "dead key" one way or another.

The Beaver 18 hours ago ,

Harper

Did you see this one also?

FireEye's tip eventually led Facebook to remove 652 fake accounts and pages. And Liberty Front Press, the common thread among much of that sham activity, was linked to state media in Iran, Facebook said on Tuesday.

https://www.nytimes.com/201...

Zuck and his ilk Sandberg are doing CYA and using those who have contacts inside the beltway.

[Aug 22, 2018] Facebook Kills "Inauthentic" Foreign News Accounts - US Propaganda Stays Alive

Highly recommended!
Notable quotes:
"... Internet Research Agency ..."
"... The anti-Russian mania in U.S. politics gives social media companies a welcome excuse to clamp down on promotional schemes for sites like Liberty Front Press by claiming that these are disinformation campaigns run by the U.S. enemy of the day . ..."
"... Moon of Alabama ..."
"... Moon of Alabama ..."
"... Well this surely shows that Facebook/Twitter is run through the help of US/Western intelligence ..."
"... Sorry, but, if you let any opinion on Facebook or Twitter sway your politics, you're an idiot. ..."
"... fireEye, google, yahoo, facebook and so many other tech companies are all in a few miles radius of one another in San Jose area of California ..."
"... In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted -- what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. ..."
"... Blogs today represent yesterday's broadsheets, and by using social media, they can increase their exposure to a wider audience. Thus, social media represents a point-of-control for those trying to shape/frame discourse/content. They may be private companies, but they interact with public discourse and ought to be subjected to Free Speech controls like the USA's 1st Amendment. ..."
"... Very many hi-tech companies in the US are working with the CIA. Such as Oracle that has an office on the east coast of the US that keeps a very low profile inside the company. ..."
"... Robert Bridge provides us with a timely written article dealing with the issue at hand: "And if US intel is in bed with Hollywood you can be damn sure they're spending time in the MSM whorehouse as well." ..."
"... IMHO, it would be foolish to presume that the CIA would simply discontinue and to walk away from (as it claims!) a program like Operation Mockingbird. Government agencies have famously infiltrated the Quakers (ferchrissakes!). Facebook was funded and developed by a CIA front shop. Zuckerburg is a dopey kid and a frontispiece. ..."
"... The danger of course is when people start to conclude that any media site permitted by FB or SM is Sanctioned by the Propaganda department of the Ministry of Truth and ignored. ..."
"... Trump would be hailed a savior if he were to morph into President Taft and Bust the Trusts like BigLie Media, its allied telecoms and social media corps. ..."
"... As to a lack authenticity, what about the tweets from outside Egypt pushing and reporting on the "Arab Spring" protests there. We have other examples of "inauthentic" social messaging on other agendas pushed like Syria. What about "A Gay Girl in Damascus?" ..."
"... who still uses facebook? The only people i know who still are active users are senior citizens. ..."
Aug 22, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The creation of digital content led to the re-establishment of claqueurs :

By 1830 the claque had become an institution. The manager of a theatre or opera house was able to send an order for any number of claqueurs. These were usually under a chef de claque (leader of applause), who judged where the efforts of the claqueurs were needed and to initiate the demonstration of approval. This could take several forms. There would be commissaires ("officers/commissioner") who learned the piece by heart and called the attention of their neighbors to its good points between the acts. Rieurs (laughers) laughed loudly at the jokes. Pleureurs (criers), generally women, feigned tears, by holding their handkerchiefs to their eyes. Chatouilleurs (ticklers) kept the audience in a good humor, while bisseurs (encore-ers) simply clapped and cried "Bis! Bis!" to request encores.

Today anyone can create content and rent or buy virtual claqueurs in from of "likes" on Facebook or "followers" on Twitter to increase its distribution.

An alternative is to create artificial social media personas who then promote ones content. That is what the Internet Research Agency , the Russian "troll factory" from St. Petersburg, did. The fake personas it established on Facebook promoted IRA created clickbait content like puppy picture pages that was then marketed to sell advertisements .

The profit orientated social media giants do not like such third party promotions. They prefer that people pay THEM to promote their content. Selling advertisements is Facebook's business. Promotional accounts on its own platform are competition.

The anti-Russian mania in U.S. politics gives social media companies a welcome excuse to clamp down on promotional schemes for sites like Liberty Front Press by claiming that these are disinformation campaigns run by the U.S. enemy of the day .

Yesterday Facebook announced that it deleted a number of user accounts for "inauthentic behavior":

We've removed 652 Pages, groups and accounts for coordinated inauthentic behavior that originated in Iran and targeted people across multiple internet services in the Middle East, Latin America, UK and US. FireEye, a cybersecurity firm, gave us a tip in July about "Liberty Front Press," a network of Facebook Pages as well as accounts on other online services.
...
We are able to link this network to Iranian state media through publicly available website registration information, as well as the use of related IP addresses and Facebook Pages sharing the same admins. For example, one part of the network, "Quest 4 Truth," claims to be an independent Iranian media organization, but is in fact linked to Press TV, an English-language news network affiliated with Iranian state media.
The FireEye report Facebook acted on notes:
FireEye has identified a suspected influence operation that appears to originate from Iran aimed at audiences in the U.S., U.K., Latin America, and the Middle East. This operation is leveraging a network of inauthentic news sites and clusters of associated accounts across multiple social media platforms to promote political narratives in line with Iranian interests. These narratives include anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Iran, such as the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) .
...
Based on an investigation by FireEye Intelligence's Information Operations analysis team, we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors.

The evidence FireEye presents is quite thin. The purpose of its inquest and report is obviously self-promotion.

Moon of Alabama is also promoting anti-Saudi , anti-Israeli , and pro-Palestinian themes. It supports the JCPOA deal. This is, according to FireEye, "in line with Iranian interests". It may well be. But does that make Moon of Alabama a "suspected influence operation"? Is it an "inauthentic news site"?

Is the @MoonofA Twitter account showing "coordinated inauthentic behavior" when it promotes the pieces presented on this site? We, by the way, assess with high confidence that that this activity originates from a German actor. Is that a reason to shut it down?

Who will shut down the tons of "inauthentic" accounts U.S. spies , the British military and Israeli propaganda organisations run?

Here is another high confidence tip for FireEye. There is proof, and even an admission of guilt, that a hostile government financed broadcasting organization is creating inauthentic Facebook accounts to disseminate disinformation. These narratives include anti-Russian, anti-Syrian, and pro-Saudi views, as well as support for specific U.S. policies favorable to Israel, such as its financing of the anti-Iranian headscarf campaign .

This year the U.S. government run Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will spend more than $23 million for its Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB). OCB administers Radio and Television (TV) Martí programs directed at the Cuban public. In its 2019 budget request to Congress (pdf) the BBG admits that it creates inauthentic Facebook accounts to increase the distribution of its dreck:

In FY 2018, OCB is establishing on island digital teams to create non-branded local Facebook accounts to disseminate information . Native pages increase the chances of appearing on Cuban Facebook users newsfeeds. The same strategy will be replicated on other preferred social media networks.

How is this different from what the PressTV may have done? When will Facebook shut those inauthentic BBG accounts down?


---
h/t to Left I on the News

Comments


jo6pac , Aug 22, 2018 1:31:58 PM | 1

The truth hurts the 1%

Thanks b

librul , Aug 22, 2018 1:48:13 PM | 2

Before most of us had ever heard of "Putin's Chef", the Pentagon was bragging publicly that it was using Facebook click-bait for propaganda.

https://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/09/analysts-are-quitting-state-departments-anti-propaganda-team/140936/

At the Defense One Summit last November [2016], former GEC director Michael Lumpkin [GEC, Pentagon propaganda department] described how the Center was using the data it received as a Facebook advertiser to maximize the effectiveness of its own targeted appeals.

"Using Facebook ads, I can go within Facebook, I can go grab an audience, I can pick Country X, I need age group 13 to 34, I need people who have liked -- whether it's Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi or any other set -- I can shoot and hit them directly with messaging," Lumpkin said. He emphasized that with the right data, effective message targeting could be done for "pennies a click."

Chipnik , Aug 22, 2018 1:50:52 PM | 4
Ironically, when I created a FB page hangout for my foreign students to disseminate topical educational materials that were freely available as PDF links, or free 'loss-leader' lessons from for-profits, or Khan Academy free lesson links ... in other words, organizing a docent-guided free education feed for terribly poor 3W students ...

FB informed me that this was an 'illegal' business activity, lol. They shut it down with *zero* warning. One moment it was a beautiful colorful uplifting education resource, the next it was burnt to ashes. 404.

ATM, on an Anony FB page I launched to reconnect with my students, after a couple ill-advised comments to their thread posts, discussing what's *really* going on in the world, FB has blocked any posts that I might want to make. They just never show up when I hit enter. Like training a bad puppy, lol. All FB lets me do is 'like' or emoji or 'wave' to my students, so it's a semaphore that I still exist, even in FB lockup.

But I think I'll stop. It's bread-crumbing them to FBs candy-cane house and the boiling cauldron that awaits. Frog in a Pot!

Ianovskii , Aug 22, 2018 2:16:03 PM | 5
Regarding 4:

Chipnik, Open a VK account and invite your students! No more censorship!

Bart Hansen , Aug 22, 2018 2:30:32 PM | 7
"...we assess with moderate confidence that this activity originates from Iranian actors." Jeez, can't they at least produce a "highly likely" for us? On the intelligence community's confidence scale, "moderate" has to be just above "wishful" and "doubtful"
fastfreddy , Aug 22, 2018 2:32:46 PM | 8
One of the tricks of corporate propaganda: Often, when exposed to capitalist propaganda, a socialist gets the impression that he can have the best of both worlds! - the perceived benefits of capitalism as he keeps his beloved social benefits.

It isn't until some time after the bmobing has stopped, that he realizes that he has lost ALL his former social benefits and what he has thereafter is hard capitalism and no money.

Zanon , Aug 22, 2018 2:45:53 PM | 9
Well this surely shows that Facebook/Twitter is run through the help of US/Western intelligence. Only way is to fight back or you will eventually have fines and end up in jail for thoughtcrimes.

This site and us here commenting is of course already targeted by these scums, besides, sites like this will certainly be shut down sooner or later.

Remember Facebook also attacked Venezuela recently, "Why Did Facebook Purge TeleSUR English?"

TeleSUR English is a rare voice of dissent to US foreign policy. Is that why Facebook deleted its page?
https://www.telesurtv.net/english/opinion/Why-Did-Facebook-Purge-TeleSUR-English-20180816-0016.html
ben , Aug 22, 2018 2:47:13 PM | 10
Sorry, but, if you let any opinion on Facebook or Twitter sway your politics, you're an idiot. At the very least, naive to a fault.

Claqueurs is a new word for me b, thanks for the education.

Zanon , Aug 22, 2018 2:49:46 PM | 11
ben

Its not facebook itself this is about but views, freedom of speech itself - that is what being attacked.

james , Aug 22, 2018 3:20:48 PM | 12
b.. thanks... your first paragraph giving context to how the public was swayed going back close to 200 years ago was very interesting..

The usa gov't has something to sell and something to buy.. fireEye, google, yahoo, facebook and so many other tech companies are all in a few miles radius of one another in San Jose area of California.. If Russia was to bomb somewhere in the usa - that would be one good place to start!

They are all selling to the usa gov't at this point... the usa devotes so much to propaganda and these corps all try to peddle the needed tools to keep the fearmongering going, when they're not snooping of course! hey - they can do both - snoop and sell!!

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 3:31:39 PM | 14
Long ago before the Hydrocarbon Epoch, the Broadsheet was your typical newscast assembled by the local printer who was often reporter and editor, and even in small towns there was competition, with readers of news gathering in coffee shops to discuss their contents. The vociferousness of many publications was extreme, but as Jefferson observed in the 1790s, easily disproved hyperbole was far more desirable than censorship -- people were deemed capable of determining a publication's veracity for themselves and thus their success or failure would be determined by the marketplace of ideas.

In the battles over ideas, printing presses were often targeted for destruction so ideas could be restricted -- what's happening with Twitter and Facebook is merely an updated version of such repression. With the advent of the personal computer and internet, ease of publishing exploded, which presented elites determined to control the overall discourse with a huge problem they are still grappling with. One of the aims of the Independent Media Center on its founding in 1999 was to turn every activist into a reporter and every computer into a printing press with contents published collectively at regional Media Centers. Unfortunately, after a promising first several years, the nascent movement failed and remains in dormancy, being mostly replaced by personal blogs.

Blogs today represent yesterday's broadsheets, and by using social media, they can increase their exposure to a wider audience. Thus, social media represents a point-of-control for those trying to shape/frame discourse/content. They may be private companies, but they interact with public discourse and ought to be subjected to Free Speech controls like the USA's 1st Amendment.

AriusArmenian , Aug 22, 2018 4:30:10 PM | 15
Very many hi-tech companies in the US are working with the CIA. Such as Oracle that has an office on the east coast of the US that keeps a very low profile inside the company. In fact the first contract that launched the company was a contract with the CIA to implement the IBM SQL standard. I shouldn't have to explain to anyone here why the CIA would use a relational database (have to keep all those subversive secret ops in order). Similar connection to CIA for Google, Facebook, Symantec, etc.

If you are using US software (very likely) then assume CIA and NSA back-doors. Some solutions are to use Linux and VPNs, and Yandex for cloud storage. Get away from US software.

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 5:13:35 PM | 17
Robert Bridge provides us with a timely written article dealing with the issue at hand: "And if US intel is in bed with Hollywood you can be damn sure they're spending time in the MSM whorehouse as well."
karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 5:28:53 PM | 18
Sorry, should have included this in 17. As many know, Caitlin Johnstone, a Truth Seeker par excellence, has also been censored, but prior to that wrote this essay on the subject at hand, which is all about manufacturing consent as she sees it:

"This is a setup. Hit the soft target so your oligarch-friendly censorship doesn't look like what it is, then once you've manufactured consent, go on to shut down the rest of dissenting media bit by bit."

This is a US government ordered setup supported by the evidence she presents in her intro, but not by Trump!

fast freddy , Aug 22, 2018 5:53:49 PM | 20
IMHO, it would be foolish to presume that the CIA would simply discontinue and to walk away from (as it claims!) a program like Operation Mockingbird. Government agencies have famously infiltrated the Quakers (ferchrissakes!). Facebook was funded and developed by a CIA front shop. Zuckerburg is a dopey kid and a frontispiece.
Pft , Aug 22, 2018 7:06:53 PM | 22
The danger of course is when people start to conclude that any media site permitted by FB or SM is Sanctioned by the Propaganda department of the Ministry of Truth and ignored. Then these few truthful media sites that are unbanned will need to beg these social media giants to ban them so as to restablish credibility. FB and SM will then need to ban a few controlled MSM sites so people will believe they are credible and read the propaganda

I guess we are not there yet, or are we? I do not use FB or other SM for news or anything else, although I do occasionally click on links to them from a web page, but I guess a lot of people do. Maybe that will change.

karlof1 , Aug 22, 2018 7:13:05 PM | 23
The battle over Net Neutrality is related to this. Recently, Verizon blackmailed a California fire department engaged in fighting the state's largest ever wildfire by throttling its data feed thus threatening public safety for a Few Dollars More.

Trump would be hailed a savior if he were to morph into President Taft and Bust the Trusts like BigLie Media, its allied telecoms and social media corps.

Curtis , Aug 22, 2018 7:21:01 PM | 24
Claqueurs. One of the earliest versions of the annoying "laugh track" used in television. Like Ben 10, I learned something new today.

As to a lack authenticity, what about the tweets from outside Egypt pushing and reporting on the "Arab Spring" protests there. We have other examples of "inauthentic" social messaging on other agendas pushed like Syria. What about "A Gay Girl in Damascus?"

As usual, thanks for pointing out the hypocrisy of US govt/media.

pB , Aug 22, 2018 8:41:56 PM | 25
who still uses facebook? The only people i know who still are active users are senior citizens.

[Aug 15, 2018] Facebook Taps Militarist Think Tank Atlantic Council to Police its content

Russiagate has deepened the partnership between Washington and Silicon Valley, and leftist websites are among the first casualties.
Notable quotes:
"... America has a real problem here with accomplishing its goals – which it is obviously achieving, the silencing of legitimate dissent and the prioritization of the national-security narrative – while simultaneously advertising itself as the center of what the evildoers hate for its freedoms. ..."
"... Americans, and everyone who uses their services, are increasingly regulated in everything they do and say, extending now to what you are allowed to see and hear. Actual freedom is dwindling away to a pinpoint, and what the government wants every election cycle is more cops, more law and order and more security. ..."
Aug 15, 2018 | gravatar.com

Warren , August 11, 2018 at 8:18 pm

https://www.youtube.com/embed/ZJUjSBXU5iY?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

TheRealNews
Published on 11 Aug 2018
From Alex Jones to alleged Russian trolls, major internet companies are increasingly policing content on their platforms. Max Blumenthal of the Grayzone Project says the partnership between Facebook and the Atlantic Council highlights "the merger of the national security state and Silicon Valley."

https://www.youtube.com/embed/TFXQFI8KiWA?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent

TheRealNews, Published on 11 Aug 2018

Russiagate has deepened the partnership between Washington and Silicon Valley, and leftist websites are among the first casualties. After falsely accusing an anti-white supremacist rally event page of being a fake, Facebook shut down the page of VenezuelaAnalysis.com for several hours without explanation. We speak to VA founder and TRNN host Greg Wilpert, as well as the Grayzone Project's Max Blumenthal

kirill says: August 11, 2018 at 8:59 pm
Western "freedom" of expression in action. I find it interesting how the voices of a few heretics are supposedly some big threat to NATzO. That would indicate that NATzO is not quite the bastion of democracy it paints itself to be. It is unstable because it is based on lies and heretics can initiate the crashing of the facade. But if this is indeed the case, then NATzO is on its way out since no amount of repression of dissidents will change the fundamental inconsistency of its existence.

Mark Chapman says: August 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

America has a real problem here with accomplishing its goals – which it is obviously achieving, the silencing of legitimate dissent and the prioritization of the national-security narrative – while simultaneously advertising itself as the center of what the evildoers hate for its freedoms.

Americans, and everyone who uses their services, are increasingly regulated in everything they do and say, extending now to what you are allowed to see and hear. Actual freedom is dwindling away to a pinpoint, and what the government wants every election cycle is more cops, more law and order and more security.

[Aug 14, 2018] Try track me after that, google.

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Automatic Choke -> johngaltfla Mon, 08/13/2018 - 19:01 Permalink

1) remove the smartphone battery

2) smash the smartphone with a hammer

3) burn the pieces of the smartphone

4) leave the ashes at home when you are out and about

Try and track THAT, google.

[Aug 14, 2018] I am sure the tracking your movements all the time it s just a harmless oversight on the part of Google.

Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

spanish inquisition Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:28 Permalink

I am sure it's just a harmless oversight.

Kefeer -> Clock Crasher Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:38 Permalink

Hammer it and remove all EMF's. An old microwave over works as a Faraday cage. Also; if you take a cell phone and wrap it in just a layer or two of aluminum foil; it will not make or receive calls.

beemasters -> Kefeer Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

Or just carry a dummy phone to make yourself look important. In today's world, perception is it.

Giant Meteor -> beemasters Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:52 Permalink

Good point. Save alot of shekkels too. Why just the other day I was standing in grocery line having an imaginary conversation with my imaginary broker, on my fake phone! The conversation became quite heated. It was all going swell until I ran into the door on my way out, fell over backwards, spilt the milk carton, and crushed a dozen eggs. No one even noticed ..

cougar_w -> beemasters Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:42 Permalink

They don't need GPS to know where you are, cell towers report the same information to good enough accuracy for most uses. When Google is tracking you, that is how they are doing it usually.

JoeTurner Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:30 Permalink

The East German Stasi only wish they could be like Google...

Socratic Dog -> Grandad Grumps Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:13 Permalink

OSMand replaces google maps very nicely, and works perfectly fine completely off line (by GPS). It also doesn't have to allow google to update its maps every 30 days to keep it working, download maps for anywhere in the world and just use them.

Lineage OS is a replacement for Android OS. I've had it in 2 phones so far, quite content with it. Open source, so lots of eyes on it to make sure this sort of shit isn't happening. You can minimize or completely eliminate the google presence, your choice.

Whether some deep-down shit is tracking me, I have no idea. I assume it is, and act accordingly.

Oldguy05 -> Socratic Dog Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:19 Permalink

Deep-down, it's all shit!

valjoux7750 -> Socratic Dog Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:26 Permalink

Love to try lineage but I'm on Verizon and their phones since the note 5 are locked down good. Rooting, jailbreaking, or what ever you call it is the way to go if your concerned about privacy.

Socratic Dog -> valjoux7750 Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:31 Permalink

Rooting isn't difficult. That's why they try so hard to stop you doing it.

[Aug 14, 2018] Paranoia as a natural condition of people living in the national security state: Faraday Cages for sale! Get yours today -- or they'll get you tomorrow!

** This story brought to you by the Divorce Lawyers of America **
Aug 14, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

toady -> hedgeless_horseman Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:41 Permalink

Duh. Who didn't know this?

Even taking the battery out doesn't work anymore... they've built in transistors that will hold enough juice to keep the tracking capabilities enabled for several hours after the battery is removed.

NidStyles -> toady Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:44 Permalink

Are you kidding me Gracie? I assume it was you sending the nutcase

johngaltfla -> NidStyles Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:45 Permalink

Man are those geeks going to be bored as fucking hell tracking me.

Alananda -> johngaltfla Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:59 Permalink

I dindu nuffin. I never do nothing. What -- me worry? I have nothing to hide. Idiot.

johngaltfla -> Alananda Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:57 Permalink

Humor and sarcasm. Try Googling it.

Automatic Choke -> johngaltfla Mon, 08/13/2018 - 19:01 Permalink

1) remove the smartphone battery

2) smash the smartphone with a hammer

3) burn the pieces of the smartphone

4) leave the ashes at home when you are out and about

Try and track THAT, google.

[Aug 13, 2018] Google Is Constantly Tracking, Even If You Turn Off Device Location History

You do not need to keep you phone on when you driving, do you ?
Aug 13, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

by Tyler Durden Mon, 08/13/2018 - 17:25 74 SHARES

Perhaps it should come as no surprise that Google is actually tracking you even when you switch your device settings to Location History "off" .

As journalist Mark Ames comments in response to a new Associated Press story exposing Google's ability to track people at all times even when they explicitly tell Google not to via iPhone and Android settings, "The Pentagon invented the internet to be the perfect global surveillance/counterinsurgency machine. Surveillance is baked into the internet's DNA."

In but the latest in a continuing saga of big tech tracking and surveillance stories which should serve to convince us all we are living in the beginning phases of a Minority Report style tracking and pansophical "pre-crime" system, it's now confirmed that the world's most powerful tech company and search tool will always find a way to keep your location data .

The Associated Press sought the help of Princeton researchers to prove that while Google is clear and upfront about giving App users the ability to turn off or "pause" Location History on their devices, there are other hidden means through which it retains the data .

According to the AP report :

Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you've been. Google's support page on the subject states: "You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored."

That isn't true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking.

For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are .

And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like "chocolate chip cookies," or "kids science kits," pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude -- accurate to the square foot -- and save it to your Google account .

The issue directly affects around two billion people using Google's Android operating software and iPhone users relying on Google maps or a simple search.

Among the computer science researchers at Princeton conducting the tests is Jonathan Mayer, who told the AP , "If you're going to allow users to turn off something called 'Location History,' then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off," and added, "That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have."

Google, for its part, is defending the software and privacy tracking settings , saying the company has been perfectly clear and has not violated privacy ethics.

"There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people's experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services," a Google statement to the AP reads. "We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time."

According to the AP, there is a way to prevent Google from storing the various location marker and metadata collection possibilities, but it's somewhat hidden and painstaking.

Google's own description on how to do this as a result of the AP inquiry is as follows :

To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information. Called "Web and App Activity" and enabled by default, that setting stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account.

When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. But leaving "Web & App Activity" on and turning "Location History" off only prevents Google from adding your movements to the "timeline," its visualization of your daily travels. It does not stop Google's collection of other location markers.

You can delete these location markers by hand, but it's a painstaking process since you have to select them individually , unless you want to delete all of your stored activity.

Of course, the more constant location data obviously means more advertising profits and further revenue possibilities for Google and its clients, so we fully expect future hidden tracking loopholes to possibly come to light.

Beginning in 2014, Google has utilized user location histories to allow advertisers to track the effectiveness of online ads at driving foot traffic . With the continued possibility of real-time tracking to generate billions of dollars, it should come as no surprise that Google would seek to make it as difficult (or perhaps impossible?) as it can for users to ensure they aren't tracked.

As for the government, we can only imagine the creative surveillance "fun" Washington's 16+ intelligence agencies are having with such a powerful tool right now.

[Aug 11, 2018] The Week In Tech Infowars and China's Great Firewall

Aug 11, 2018 | www.nytimes.com

I was surprised by the reactions (good and bad) to the column. Some readers were sarcastic. Not having access to Google, Facebook or Twitter? "Lucky them!" wrote one Facebook user. "They have not missed anything important!" said another.

... ... ...

In other news this week:

Li Yuan is the Asia tech columnist for The Times. She previously reported on China technology for The Wall Street Journal. You can follow her on Twitter here: @LiYuan6.

[Aug 07, 2018] Live Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress

Zuckerberg states that Facebook will have a huge "counterterrorism" team. Any counterterrorism team doubles as anti-dissidents team.
Notable quotes:
"... The team is comprised of 200 people, who he said are just focused on counterterrorism. Zuckerberg said content reviewers also go over flagged information. ..."
"... "I think we have capacity in 30 languages that we are working on and in addition to that, we have a number of AI tools that we are developing like the one's that I mentioned that can proactively go flag the content," he said in response to a question from Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana. ..."
Aug 07, 2018 | www.cnn.com

Actually there were a couple of moments in this dog and pony show where truth surfaced ;-)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers today that his company has a counterterrorism team.

The team is comprised of 200 people, who he said are just focused on counterterrorism. Zuckerberg said content reviewers also go over flagged information.

"I think we have capacity in 30 languages that we are working on and in addition to that, we have a number of AI tools that we are developing like the one's that I mentioned that can proactively go flag the content," he said in response to a question from Rep. Susan Brooks of Indiana.

She asked Zuckerberg how the team stops terrorist groups from recruiting and communicating.

He said the team first identifies those groups' patterns of communicating. They then design systems that proactively flag the messaging, so those accounts could be removed.

The company outlined its counterterrorism approach in 2017 in a blog post , where it said that the team included "academic experts on counterterrorism, former prosecutors, former law enforcement agents and analysts, and engineers."

[Aug 06, 2018] Krieger Stop Complaining And Just Delete Facebook by Mike Krieger

To a certain extent Facebook success is the success of narcissism and herd mentality. There is not much of value in Facebook and the level programming at least several years ago was really primitive (although implementation was not -- due to giant scale they faced all king of complex problems)
In a way people who use Facebook for email are idiots. People who post all kind of personal information on their Facebook pages are sick (ersatz collectivism at one time popular among adolescents).
Who help Zuckerberg to grow the company to this level is a very interesting question indeed. If definitely is a part of Prism like Google, Yahoo and Hotmail?
His testimony before the Congress raises certain questions. Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress - watch live is very educational listering to any Facebook user. It is essentially intelligence company masking as a social site with advertizing as the core business model.
Aug 06, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Authored by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

I wrote just one post last week and it centered around the dangers posed to society by U.S. tech giants . I specifically called out Facebook, pointing out how company executives are currently groveling to politicians in order to prevent legislation that might deem it a monopoly and curtail its power.

I explained how U.S. politicians prefer to use the power and reach of tech giants for their own ends rather than take them down a notch. Politicians aren't at all concerned about the outsized influence of centralized tech behemoths engineering society using secret algorithms, they just want to be in control of how this power is abused.

Meanwhile, today's biggest news is the uniform move by three U.S. tech giants to de-platform Alex Jones and his Infowars website. The main companies involved are Apple, Facebook and Google (via YouTube), as reported in The Guardian :

All but one of the major content platforms have banned the American conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, as the companies raced to act in the wake of Apple's decision to remove five podcasts by Jones and his Infowars website.

Facebook unpublished four pages run by Jones for "repeated violations of community standards", the company said on Monday. YouTube terminated Jones's account over him repeatedly appearing in videos despite being subject to a 90-day ban from the website, and Spotify removed the entirety of one of Jones's podcasts for "hate content"

Facebook's and YouTube's enforcement action against Jones came hours after Apple removed Jones from its podcast directory. The timing of Facebook's announcement was unusual, with the company confirming the ban at 3am local time.

Put aside what you think of Alex Jones for a moment. If they can do this to him and not fear the repercussions, they can do it to anybody. This is about power, and these platforms together account for a massive share of content distribution in the U.S. Ultimately, this is just a particularly muscular and in your face example of what's known as Silicon Valley's cultural imperialism .

I know a lot of people think the answer is to get Congress to do something, as if those monumentally corrupt donor puppets have any interest in helping the public.

... ... ...

I'd also like to point out that Facebook's stock was up over 4% today, completely shrugging off any potential backlash from users. Executives assume its users are all addled junkies unwilling to give up convenience and their addiction no matter what the company does. Are they right?

Speaking of which, on the same day the move against Jones was announced we learn Facebook is in talks with mega banks to get your financial information.

From The Wall Street Journal :

Facebook Inc.wants your financial data.

The social media giant has asked large U.S. banks to share detailed financial information about their customers, including card transactions and checking account balances, as part of an effort to offer new services to users.

Facebook increasingly wants to be a platform where people buy and sell goods and services, besides connecting with friends. The company over the past year asked JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co., Citigroup Inc. and U.S. Bancorp to discuss potential offerings it could host for bank customers on Facebook Messenger, said people familiar with the matter.

Facebook executives don't actually care about anything besides their profits and power, so the only way you can take any individual action against the company is to delete your account. I haven't engaged with Facebook since 2012, so permanently deleting it wasn't a personal sacrifice, but I did it anyway earlier today.

... ... ...

Don't wait for other people to change things for you, stop whining and take some individual responsibility. If you agree that Facebook's primarily a nefarious narcissism-factory wasteland masquerading as a platform just delete it... before it deletes you.

* * *

If you liked this article and enjoy my work, consider becoming a monthly Patron , or visit the Support Page to show your appreciation for independent content creators.

[Aug 04, 2018] Edward Snowden 5 years in Russia and still relevant as ever

Aug 04, 2018 | theduran.com

TASS reported that August 1 was the five year anniversary of Edward Snowden's being granted temporary asylum in the Russian Federation. This happened after his release of an enormous trove of information showing clandestine and illegal practices being carried out by the US intelligence agencies to gather information on just about anyone in the world, for any – or no – reason at all.

Support The Duran – Browse our Shop >>

Edward Snowden, 35, is a computer security expert. In 2005-2008, he worked at the University of Maryland's Center for Advanced Study of Language sponsored by the National Security Agency (NSA) and at the global communications division at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In 2007, Snowden was stationed with diplomatic cover at the US mission to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. In 2009, he resigned from the CIA to join the Dell company that sent him to Hawaii to work for the NSA's information-sharing office. He was particularly employed with the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting firm.

In June 2013, Snowden leaked classified information to journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras, which revealed global surveillance programs run by US and British intelligence agencies. He explained the move by saying that he wanted to tell the world the truth because he believed such large-scale surveillance on innocent citizens was unacceptable and the public needed to know about it.

The Guardian and The Washington Post published the first documents concerning the US intelligence agencies' spying on Internet users on June 6, 2013. According to the documents, major phone companies, including Verizon, AT&T and Sprint Nextel, handed records of their customers' phone conversations over to the NSA and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who also had direct access to the servers of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Paltalk, AOL and Apple. In addition, Snowden's revelations showed that a secret program named PRISM was aimed at collecting audio and video recordings, photos, emails and information about users' connections to various websites.

The next portion of revelations , which was published by the leading newspapers such as The Guardian, Brazil's O Globo, Italy's L'Espresso, Germany's Der Spiegel and Suddeutsche Zeitung, concerned the US spying on politicians. In particular, it became known that the NSA and Great Britain's Government Communications Headquarters intercepted the phone calls that foreign politicians and officials made during the G20 summit in London in 2009. British intelligence agencies particularly tried to intercept then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's phone calls. US intelligence monitored the phone calls of 35 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

According to the disclosed information, the NSA regularly gathered intelligence at the New York and Washington offices of the European Union's mission. The agency also achieved access to the United Nations' internal video conferences and considers the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as one of its major targets for spying.

The leaks also uncovered details about the Blarney and Rampart-T secret surveillance programs. Blarney, which started in 1978, is used to collect information related to counter-terrorism, foreign diplomats and governments, as well as economic and military targets. Rampart-T has been used since 1991 to spy on foreign leaders. The program is focused on 20 countries, including Russia and China.

Snowden also let the world know that Germany's Federal Intelligence Service and Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution used the NSA's XKeyScore secret computer system to spy on Internet users, monitoring their web activities. In addition, the NSA and Great Britain's Government Communications Headquarters developed methods that allowed them to hack almost all the encryption systems currently used on the Internet. Besides, the leaked documents said that the NSA had secretly installed special software on about 100,000 computers around the globe that provided access to them and made cyber attacks easier. In particular, the NSA used a secret technology that made it possible to hack computers not connected to the Internet.

Portions of the information Snowden handed over to Greenwald and Poitras continue to be published on The Intercept website . According to edwardsnowden.com – a website commissioned by the Courage foundation (dedicated to building support for Snowden), a total of 2,176 documents from the archive have been published so far.

The NSA and the Pentagon claim that Snowden stole about 1.7 mln classified documents concerning the activities of US intelligence services and US military operations. He is charged with theft of government property, unauthorized communication of national defense information and willful communication of classified communications intelligence information to an unauthorized person. He is facing up to ten years in prison on each charge.

As can be seen, Mr. Snowden's work is of extreme importance now in the connected Internet age. But how is his life in Russia now?

According to Sputnik News, his life goes on . Reports say that he is continuing to learn the Russian language and to travel about the country:

Anatoly Kucherena, Edward Snowden's lawyer, has revealed some details of the renowned whistleblower's life to Sputnik. According to him, Snowden has found a job, is actively traveling around Russia and is continuing to learn the language.

Kucherena added that Snowden receives visits from his girlfriend, Lindsey Mills, and his parents. When asked about the whistleblower's favorite place in Russia, his lawyer said that he likes St Petersburg "a lot."

"He is doing alright: his girlfriend visits him, he has a good job and he's continuing to study Russian. His parents visit him occasionally. [They] have no problems with visas. At least they have never complained about having any trouble," the lawyer said.

After Snowden released classified NSA documents, he fled first to Hong Kong, then, on June 23, 2013, arrived in Moscow from Hong Kong. The whistleblower remained in the transit zone of Sheremetyevo Airport until he was granted temporary asylum in Russia, which was later prolonged to 2020.

[Aug 03, 2018] The Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism

Notable quotes:
"... Reprinted with permission from the Black Agenda Report . ..."
Aug 03, 2018 | ronpaulinstitute.org

The Bizarre Facebook Path to Corporate Fascism Written by Glen Ford Friday August 3, 2018
undefined

"The Facebook intervention is a qualitative escalation of the McCarthyite offensive."

Facebook has assumed additional political police powers, disrupting a planned counter-demonstration against white supremacists, set for August 12th in Washington, on the grounds that it was initiated and inspired by "Russians" as part of a Kremlin campaign to "sow dissention" in the US. The Facebook intervention is a qualitative escalation of the McCarthyite offensive launched by the Democrat Party and elements of the national security state, and backed by most of the corporate media, initially to blame Hillary Clinton's 2016 defeat on "collusion" between Wikileaks, "the Russians" and the Trump campaign to steal and publicize embarrassing Clinton campaign emails.

After failing to produce one shred of hard evidence to support their conspiracy theory, the anti-Russia hysteria mongers switched gears, focusing on the alleged purchase of about $100,000 in Facebook ads by the Internet Research Agency (IRA), a St. Petersburg-based Russian company, over a multi-year period. The problem was, most of the ads had no direct connection to the presidential contest, or were posted after the election was over, and many had no political content, at all. The messages were all over the place, politically, with the alleged Russian operatives posing as Christian activists, pro- and anti-immigration activists, and supporters of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Special prosecutor Robert Mueller was forced to flip the script, indicting 13 Russians for promoting general "discord" and undermining "public confidence in democracy" in the United States – thus creating a political crime that has not previously been codified in the United States.

"Mueller was forced to flip the script."

In doubling down on an unraveling conspiracy tale, the Mueller probe empowered itself to tar and feather all controversial speech that can be associated with utterances by "Russians," even if the alleged "Russians" are, in fact, mimicking the normal speech of left- or right-wing Americans -- a descent, not into Orwell's world, but that of Kafka (Beyond the Law) and Heller (Catch-22).

Facebook this week announced that it had taken down 32 pages and accounts that had engaged in "coordinated and inauthentic behavior" in promoting the August 12 counter-demonstration against the same white supremacists that staged the fatal "Unite the Right" demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, a year ago. Hundreds of anti-racists had indicated their intention to rally against "Unite the Right 2.0" under the banner of Shut It Down DC, which includes D.C. Antifascist Collective, Black Lives Matter D.C., Hoods4Justice, Resist This, and other local groups.

Facebook did not contend that these anti-racists' behavior was "inauthentic," but that the first ad for the event was purchased by a group calling itself "Resisters" that Facebook believes were behaving much like the Internet Research Agency. "At this point in our investigation, we do not have enough technical evidence to state definitively who is behind it," said Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy . "But we can say that these accounts engaged in some similar activity and have connected with known I.R.A accounts."

"The Mueller probe empowered itself to tar and feather all controversial speech that can be associated with utterances by 'Russians,' even if the alleged 'Russians' are, in fact, mimicking the normal speech of left- or right-wing Americans."

Chelsea Manning, whose prison sentence for sending secret documents to Wikileaks was commuted by President Obama, said the counter-protest was "organic and authentic"and that activists had begun organizing several months ago. "Folks from D.C. and Charlottesville have been talking about this since at least February," Manning told The New York Times.

"This was a legitimate Facebook event that was being organized by Washington, DC locals," says Dylan Petrohilos , of Resist This. Petrohilos was one of the defendants in the Trump inauguration "riot" prosecutions. He protested Facebook's disruption of legitimate free speech and assembly. "DC organizers had controlled the messaging on the no UTR fb page and now FB made it harder for grassroots people to organize," he tweeted. The organizers insist the August 12 counter-demonstration -- "No Unite the Right 2 – DC" -- is still a go, as is the white supremacist rally.

Whoever was first to buy a Facebook ad – the suspected Russian "Resisters," or Workers Against Racism, who told the Daily Beast they decided to host their own anti-"Unite the Right 2.0" event because they thought "Resisters" was an "inexperienced liberal organizer" – there was no doubt whatsoever that the white supremacists would be confronted by much larger numbers of counter-demonstrators, in Washington. Nobody in Russia needed to tell US anti-racists to shut the white supremacists down, or vice versa. The Russians didn't invent American white supremacy, or the native opposition to it. Even if Mueller, Facebook, the Democratic Party and the howling corporate media mob are to be believed, the "Russians" are simply mimicking US political rhetoric and sloganeering – and weakly, at that. The Workers Against Racism thought the "Resisters" weren't worth partnering with, but that the racist rally must be countered. The Shut It Down DC coalition didn't need the "Resisters" to crystallize their thinking on white supremacism.

"Chelsea Manning said the counter-protest was 'organic and authentic."

The Democratic Party and corporate media, speaking for most of the US ruling class – and actually bullying one of its top oligarchs, Mark Zuckerberg – is on its own bizarre and twisted road to fascism. (Donald Trump's proto-fascism is the old fashioned, all-American type that the white supremacists want to celebrate on August 12.) With former FBI Director Robert Mueller at the head of the pack, they have created a pseudo legal doctrine whereby "Russians" (or US spooks pretending to be Russians) can be indicted for launching a #MeToo campaign of mimicry, echoing the rhetoric and memes indigenous to US political struggles, while the genuine, "authentic" American political voices – the people who are being mimicked – are labeled co-conspirators in a foreign-based "plot," and their rights to speech and assembly are trashed.

That's truly crazy, but devilishly clever, too. If "Russian" mimics (or cloaked spooks) can reproduce the vocabulary and political program of US dissent, then all of us actual US lefties can be dismissed as "dupes of the Russians" or "co-conspirators" in the speech crimes of our mimics -- for sounding like ourselves.

Reprinted with permission from the Black Agenda Report .


[Aug 03, 2018] A Threat to Global Democracy How Facebook Surveillance Capitalism Empower Authoritarianism

Notable quotes:
"... Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy ..."
"... The War and Peace Report ..."
"... Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy ..."
"... Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy ..."
"... If you want to organize a protest out of the eyes of the government, the worst thing you can do is use Facebook or Twitter in that effort, right? ..."
"... Look, any police department, any state security service anywhere in the world that doesn't infiltrate protest groups or, you know, activist groups that way is foolish, right? It's so easy. Facebook makes surveillance so easy. ..."
"... It's great for motivating people to get into the street, but don't be surprised if there are a couple guys with crew cuts in the crowd with you. ..."
Aug 01, 2018 | www.democracynow.org

...We speak with Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of "Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy." He is a professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia.

AMY GOODMAN : Facebook has been at the center of a number of controversies in the United States and abroad. Earlier this year, Facebook removed more than 270 accounts it determined to be created by the Russia-controlled Internet Research Agency. Facebook made that move in early April, just days before founder and CEO Mark Zuckeberg was question on Capitol Hill about how the voter-profiling company Cambridge Analytica harvested data from more than 87 million Facebook users without their permission in efforts to sway voters to support President Donald Trump. Zuckerberg repeatedly apologized for his company's actions then.

MARK ZUCKERBERG : We didn't take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. And it was my mistake, and I'm sorry. I started Facebook, I run it, and I'm responsible for what happens here.

AMY GOODMAN : Today we spend the hour with a leading critic of Facebook, Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy . He's professor of media studies and director of the Center for Media and Citizenship at the University of Virginia. We're speaking to him in Charlottesville.

Professor, welcome to Democracy Now!

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Oh, thanks. It's good to be here.

AMY GOODMAN : Well, let's begin with this latest news. There are hearings today that the Senate Intelligence Committee is holding, and yesterday Facebook removed these -- well, a bunch of pages, saying they don't know if it's Russian trolls, but they think they are inauthentic. Talk about these pages, what they mean, what research is being done and your concerns.

... ... ...

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Yeah. Look, Cambridge Analytica was a great story, right? It finally brought to public attention the fact that for more than five years Facebook had encouraged application developers to get maximal access to Facebook data, to personal data and activity, not just from the people who volunteered to be watched by these app developers, but all of their friends -- right? -- which nobody really understood except Facebook itself and the application developers. So, thousands of application developers got almost full access to millions of Facebook users for five years. This was basic Facebook policy. This line was lost in the storm over Cambridge Analytica.

...You know, Steve Bannon helped run the company for a while. It's paid for by Robert Mercer, you know, one of the more evil hedge fund managers in the United States. You know, it had worked for Cruz, for Ted Cruz's campaign, and then for the Brexit campaign and also for Donald Trump's campaign in 2016. So it's really easy to look at Cambridge Analytica and think of it as this dramatic story, this one-off. But the fact is, Cambridge Analytica is kind of a joke. It didn't actually accomplish anything. It pushed this weird psychometric model for voter behavior prediction, which no one believes works.

And the fact is, the Trump campaign, the Ted Cruz campaign, and, before that, the Duterte campaign in the Philippines, the Modi campaign in India, they all used Facebook itself to target voters, either to persuade them to vote or dissuade them from voting. Right? This was the basic campaign, because the Facebook advertising platform allows you to target people quite precisely, in groups as small as 20. You can base it on ethnicity and on gender, on interest, on education level, on ZIP code or other location markers. You can base it on people who are interested in certain hobbies, who read certain kinds of books, who have certain professional backgrounds. You can slice and dice an audience so precisely. It's the reason that Facebook makes as much money as it does, because if you're selling shoes, you would be a fool not to buy an ad on Facebook, right? And that's drawing all of this money away from commercially based media and journalism. At the same time, it's enriching Facebook. But political actors have figured out how to use this quite deftly.

AMY GOODMAN : "Every Breath You Take" by The Police. This is Democracy Now! , democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report . We're spending the hour with professor Siva Vaidhyanathan, who is author of Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy . He's speaking to us from Charlottesville, from the University of Virginia, professor of media studies and head of the Center for Media and Citizenship at UVA . Your book, Antisocial Media: How Facebook Disconnects Us and Undermines Democracy .

I want to go back to the beginning of this interview, where we talked about Facebook taking down more than 30 pages, saying that they are not authentic. We immediately got responses from all over saying the protest against the Unite the Right rally in Washington, D.C., in August, around the anniversary of the attacks at your university, University of Virginia, are real. These protests against Unite the Right are real. So, this goes to a very important issue, Professor, that you now have Facebook, this corporation, deciding what we see and what we don't see. It's almost as if they run the telephone company and they're listening to what we say and deciding what to edit, even if some of the stuff is absolutely heinous that people are talking to each other about -- the idea of this multinational corporation becoming the publisher and seen as that and determining what gets out. So, yes, there's a protest against Unite the Right. That is very real. They've taken down one page, that might not have been real, organizing the protest against Unite the Right. And the Unite the Right rally is supposed to be happening. What, for example, would happen if there was a protest against Facebook, Siva?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Yeah, you can't use Facebook to protest against Facebook, by the way. You can't even use Facebook to advertise a book about Facebook, for actually one --

AMY GOODMAN : What do you mean?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Well, they will not allow a group or a page or an advertisement to contain the word "Facebook." And it's not just to insulate themselves from criticism. That is a nice bonus for them. But it's really because they don't want any sort of implication that the company itself is endorsing any group or page or product. So, the use of the word -- look, the only way Facebook operates is algorithmically, right? It has machines make very blunt decisions. So the very presence of the word "Facebook" will knock a group down or knock a page down. And so you can't use Facebook to criticize Facebook, not very effectively.

AMY GOODMAN : So what about your book, which has the word "Facebook" in it?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Right. I can't -- I can't buy ads on Facebook about it. But that's OK. I think I'll do OK.

... ... ...

But in addition, Facebook has the ability to get hijacked, because what it promotes mostly are items that generate strong emotions. What generates strong emotions? Well, content that is cute or lovely, like puppies and baby goats, but also content that is extreme, content that is angry, content that is hateful, content that feeds conspiracy theories. And this hateful, angry conspiracy theory collection doesn't just spread because people like it. In fact, it, more often than not, spreads because people have problems with it. If I were to post some wacky conspiracy theory on my Facebook page today, nine out of 10 of the comments that would follow it would be friends of mine arguing against me, telling me how stupid I was for posting this. The very act of commenting on that post amplifies its reach, puts it on more people's news feeds, makes it last longer, sit higher. Right? So the very act of arguing against the crazy amplifies the crazy. It's one of the reasons that Facebook is a terrible place to deliberate about the world. It's a really effective place if you want to motivate people toward all sorts of ends, like getting out to a rally. But it's terrible if you actually want to think and discuss and deliberate about the problems in the world. And what the world needs now more than anything are more opportunities to deliberate calmly and effectively and with real information. And Facebook is working completely against that goal.

by around 2002, Google figured out how to target ads quite effectively based on the search terms that you had used. By about 2007, Facebook was starting to build ads into its platform, as well. And because it had so much more rich information on our interests and our connections and our habits, and even, once we put Facebook on our mobile phones, our location -- it could trace us to whatever store we went into, whatever church or synagogue or mosque we went into; it could know everything about us -- at that point, targeting ads became incredibly efficient and effective. That's what drove the massive revenues for both Facebook and Google. That's why Facebook and Google have all the advertising money these days, right? It's why the traditional public sphere is so impoverished, why it's so hard to pay reporters a living wage these days, because Facebook and Google is taking all that money -- are taking all that money, because they developed something better than the display ad of a newspaper or magazine, frankly. But there was just no holding back on that. As a result, once Facebook goes big, once Twitter emerges around 2009, you start seeing --

... ... ...

Right now, there are 220 million Americans who regularly use Facebook. That's pretty flat. But there are 250 million people in India who regularly use Facebook, so more than in the United States. And that's only a quarter of the population of India. So, not only is the future of Facebook in India, the present of Facebook is in India. So let's keep that in mind. This is a global phenomenon. The United States matters less and less every day.

Yet the United States Congress has inordinate power over Facebook. The fact that its headquarters is here, for one thing. The fact that the major stock markets of the world pay strong attention to what goes on in our country, right? So we have the ability, if we cared to, to break up Facebook. We would have to revive an older vision of antitrust, one that takes the overall health of the body politic seriously, not just the price to consumers seriously. But we could and should break up Facebook. We never should have -- excuse me -- allowed Facebook to purchase WhatsApp. We should never have allowed Facebook to purchase Instagram. Those are two of the potential competitors to Facebook. If those two companies existed separately from Facebook and the data were not shared among the user files with Facebook, there might be a chance that market forces could curb the excesses of Facebook. That didn't happen. We really should sever those parts. We should also sever the virtual reality project of Facebook, which is called Oculus Rift. Virtual reality has the potential to work its way into all sorts of areas of life, from pilot training to surgeon training to pornography. In all of these ways -- to shopping -- right? -- to tourism. In all of these ways, we should be very concerned that Facebook itself is likely to control all of the data about one of the more successful and leading virtual reality companies in the world. That's a problem. Again, we should spin that off. But we should also limit what Facebook can do with its data. We should have strong data protection laws in this country, in Canada, in Australia, in Brazil, in India, to allow users to know when their data is being used and misused and sold.

Those are necessary but, I'm afraid, insufficient legislative and regulatory interventions. Ultimately, we are going to have to put Facebook in its place and in a box. We are going to have to recognize, first of all, that Facebook brings real value to people around the world. Right? There are not 2.2 billion fools using Facebook. There are 2.2 billion people using Facebook because it brings something of value to their lives, often those puppy pictures or news of a cousin's kid graduating from high school, right? Those are important things. They are not to be dismissed. There are also places in the world where Facebook is the entire media system, or at least the entire internet, places like sub-Saharan Africa, places like Myanmar, places like Sri Lanka, and increasingly in India, Facebook is everything. And we can't dismiss that, as well. And so, we are -- AMY GOODMAN : Well, I mean, the government works with Facebook. For example, you talk about --

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Absolutely.

AMY GOODMAN : -- Myanmar, Burma. It's more expensive to get internet on your phone if you're trying to access a site outside of Facebook.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : That's right.

AMY GOODMAN : It's free to use Facebook services on your phone.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Right, Facebook -- use of Facebook does not count against your data cap in Myanmar and in about 40 other countries around the world, the poorest countries in the world. So, the poorest places in the world are becoming Facebook-dependent at a rapid rate. This was -- Facebook put this plan forward as a philanthropic arm. And one could look at it cynically and say, "Well, you were just trying to build Facebook customers." But the people who run Facebook are true believers that the more people use Facebook for more hours a day, the better humanity will be. I think we've shown otherwise. I know my book shows otherwise. And I think we've built -- we've allowed Facebook to build this terrible monster that is taking great advantage of the people who are most vulnerable. And it's one reason I think we should pay less attention to what's going on.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Well, but, Professor Vaidhyanathan, I think also, though, the importance of your book is that while you concentrate on Facebook, you make the point over and over again that it's not just Facebook. I think in the conclusion to your book -- I want to read a section where you talk about technopoly. And you say, "Between Google and Facebook we have witnessed a global concentration of wealth and power not seen since the British and Dutch East India Companies ruled vast territories, millions of people, and the most valuable trade routes." And then you go on to say, "Like the East India Companies, they excuse their zeal and umbrage around the world by appealing to the missionary spirit: they are, after all, making the world better, right? They did all this by inviting us in, tricking us into allowing them to make us their means to wealth and power, distilling our activities and identities into data, and launching a major ideological movement" -- what Neil Postman, the famous NYU critic, called technopoly. And then you go on to say, "'Technopoly is a state of culture. It is also a state of mind. It consists of the deification of technology, which means that the culture seeks its authorization in technology, finds its satisfactions in technology, and takes its orders from technology.'" You could say this about Uber, about Airbnb, about all these folks that are saying that data and technology will save the world.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : That's right. It's a false religion. And what we really need is to rehumanize ourselves. That is the long, hard work. So, I can propose a few regulatory interventions, and they would make a difference, but not enough of a difference. Fundamentally, we have to break ourselves out of this habit of techno-fundamentalism -- trying to come up with a technological solution to make up for the damage done by the previous technology. It's a very bad habit. It doesn't get us anywhere. If we really want to limit the damage that Facebook has done, we have to invest our time and our money in institutions that help us think, that help us think clearly, that can certify truth, that can host debate -- right? -- institutions like journalism, institutions like universities, public libraries, schools, other forms of public forums, town halls. We need to put our time and our energy into face-to-face politics, so we can look our opponents in the eye and recognize them as humans, and perhaps achieve some sort of rapprochement or mutual understanding and respect. Without that, we have no hope. If we're engaging with people only through the smallest of screens, we have no ability to recognize the humanity in each other and no ability to think clearly. We cannot think collectively. We cannot think truthfully. We can't think. We need to build -- rebuild, if we ever had it, our ability to think. That's ultimately the takeaway of my book. I hope we can figure out better, richer ways to think. We're not getting rid of Facebook. We're going to be with it -- we're going to have it for a long time. We might even learn to use it better, and we might rein it in a little better. But, ultimately, the big job is to train ourselves to think better.

AMY GOODMAN : So, Siva, let me ask you about WeChat in China. I mean, WeChat is everything there. It's Yelp, PayPal, Google, Instagram, Facebook, all rolled into one. You write, "With almost a billion users, WeChat has infused itself into their lives in ways Facebook wishes it could."

... ... ...

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : The other part of their long-term strategy is, Mark Zuckerberg wants to get into the Chinese market. That is the one place in the world where he can't do business effectively. He would love to take on WeChat directly. But here's the big difference. WeChat, like every other application or software platform in the People's Republic of China answers to the People's Republic of China. There is constant, full surveillance by the government. WeChat cannot operate without that. Facebook seems to be willing to negotiate on that point. If Facebook became more like WeChat, it's very likely that around the world it would have to cut very strong agreements with governments around the world that would allow for maybe not Chinese level of surveillance, but certainly a dangerous level of surveillance and licensing. And so, again, we might not sweat that in the United States or in Western Europe, where we still have some basic civil liberties -- at least most of us do -- but people in Turkey, people in Egypt, people in India should be very worried about that trend.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: What about the issue, that's been much publicized, of the role of Facebook and Twitter and other social media in protest movements, in dissident movements around the world, whether it's in Egypt during the Tahrir Square protests or other parts of the world?

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : I think one of the great tragedies of this story is that we were misled into thinking that social media played a direct and motivating role in the uprisings in 2011. In fact, almost nobody in Egypt used Twitter at the time. The handful of people who did were cosmopolitans who lived in Cairo. And what they did, they used Twitter to inform the rest of the world, especially journalists, what was going on in Egypt. That was an important function, but it wasn't used to organize protests. Neither was Facebook, really, for the simple reason that the government watches Facebook, right? The government watches Twitter. If you want to organize a protest out of the eyes of the government, the worst thing you can do is use Facebook or Twitter in that effort, right? In addition, when we think about the Arab Spring, the alleged Arab Spring, we often focus on --

... ... ...

AMY GOODMAN : The Guardian reports today, quote, "A trove of documents released by the city of Memphis late last week appear to show that its police department has been systematically using fake social media profiles to surveil local Black Lives Matter activists, and that it kept dossiers and detailed power point presentations on dozens of Memphis-area activists along with lists of their known associates." The report reveals a fake Memphis Police Department Facebook profile named "Bob Smith" was used to join private groups and pose as an activist. We have just 30 seconds, Siva.

SIVA VAIDHYANATHAN : Yeah. Look, any police department, any state security service anywhere in the world that doesn't infiltrate protest groups or, you know, activist groups that way is foolish, right? It's so easy. Facebook makes surveillance so easy.

My friends who do activism, especially human rights activism, in parts of the world that are authoritarian, the first thing they tell people is get off of Facebook. Use other services to coordinate your activities. Right? Use analog services and technologies. Right? Facebook is the worst possible way to stay out of the gaze of the state. It's great for motivating people to get into the street, but don't be surprised if there are a couple guys with crew cuts in the crowd with you.

[Jul 28, 2018] What Does Google Know About You An (Auto)Complete Guide by John Mason

Jul 27, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com
Authored by John Mason via TheBestVPN.com,

How much does Google really know about you? We did a deep-dive into the data the company collects to find out...

Google might just know you better than anyone.

Thanks to the data the tech giant collects in order to sell ads, Google has a wealth of information on you -- from what you look like to where you live and where you've traveled. The corporation may even be able to guess your favorite food.

Just how does Google know all of this? Jump to our infographic for a quick overview of everything Google knows about you, or check out our full guide by clicking on the icons below.

Although "Google it" has officially entered the cultural lexicon, the mega-corporation is much more than a search engine. It's through its apps, internet-related services, acquired companies and more that the technology company collects data on you. Below, we've broken down the most common app, product or service Google uses to track data, as well as an overview of the specific data collected.

From what you've searched online and the websites you've visited to who your contacts are and what you talk about, Google knows a lot about you. The company is then able to take this information and make informed decisions regarding what you might be interested in, which they show you in the form of ads.

Google's apps give the company a wealth of information on you, from the personal details that make up who you are to your interests, your past travels and your future goals.

Who You Are

From facial recognition to audio recordings and intuitive search, Google is able to create a comprehensive -- and unnervingly correct -- profile about what makes you, you.

Your appearance
Thanks to facial recognition in Google Photos, the search engine probably has a pretty good idea of what you look like. In fact, you can create a "label" within Google Photos that's essentially a tag for each person in your images, and Google is able to separate out that person from every photo you upload -- even if the photo only includes a partial picture or is obscured.

Your voice
If you've ever used voice commands with Google Home, an Android device, or any other Google product or device, the site has a log of it. In fact, not only can you view your past voice commands in the " Voice and Audio " section of Google's My Activity section, you can hear them as well. The site keeps a full history of your audio commands, including voice recordings.

Your religious/political beliefs
Have you searched Google for how to donate to a political campaign? Visited a candidate's website? Watched a sermon on YouTube? Google uses all of this information to build a comprehensive profile that covers everything from whether you're more religious or spiritual to who you're probably voting for in the next election.

Your health status
If you use Google Fit, the company probably has a pretty good overview of your health, from how active you are to the calories you burn a day to your fitness goals. But even if you don't use this Google app, the site probably has a pretty good understanding of the state of your immune system -- or at least how you view it -- from your Google searches. In fact, compiling search engine data and cross-referencing it against patterns may even allow Google to tell if you're getting sick or dealing with a medical issue.

Your personal details
Searched Google for the best lactose-free milk? For what to expect when you're expecting? For how to learn Spanish fast? Everything you search is tracked by Google, which can be used to better understand personal details about your life, from whether you have dietary restrictions to what languages you speak.

Everywhere You've Ever Been

Location tracking is one of the areas Google excels in -- thanks to advanced location recognition technology, the company knows everything from where you went on vacation two summers ago to what restaurant you eat at most often.

Your home and office
Android phones, which run off of Google's services, and Pixel, Google's own phone, track and record your location through several means, including Wi-Fi, GPS and cellular networks. This means that the phone knows everywhere you are, every day, and how long you're there for.

Google is able to interpret that data and draw conclusions from it -- for example, where you live is probably where your phone is for the majority of nights and weekends. In fact, it may only take Google Now three days to determine where you live. For those on Apple devices or other operating systems, Google Maps works in a similar way.

Places you visit
In addition to collecting information about where you live and work, Google is able to track the other places you visit most often. Do you have a favorite coffee shop? A running route? A daycare center you use every weekday? Google probably knows about it.

Places you've traveled
Google doesn't just know the ins and outs of your everyday life. The tech company knows where you've traveled too, be it a weekend getaway or a month-long trip to a different country.

Not only can Google track the places you've traveled to, it can see what you did while you were there. If you visited a museum in Paris or went line-dancing in Texas, Google knows -- down to the exact time you arrived, how long you stayed, and how long it took you to get from one destination to another. The location tracking can even tell the method of transportation you used, like if you walked or took a train.

Additionally, Google's acquisition of Waze means the site can collect data on where you've been even if you're not connected to Maps or on a Google device.

Who Your Friends Are

Between your contacts and conversations in Gmail and Hangouts and the appointments you make in Google Calendar, the company knows everything from who you're talking with to when and where you're seeing them.

Who you talk to
If you use Gmail for your personal or work email, Google has a list of all your contacts, including who you talk to the most: navigate to Google's " Frequently contacted " section to see which of your Gmail contacts you spend the most time conversing with (and to check if Google's assessment of who you like the most aligns with your own). Android and Pixel users also give Google access to their phone contacts and text messages.

Where you meet
Meeting a friend for coffee later? If it's on your Google Calendar, the company knows about it -- and, thanks to location tracking, can map your trip from your house to the coffee shop and back. If you take a picture with your friend at the shop and upload it to Google Photos, Google can use facial recognition to add them to their own specific photo album. You can also tag the location the photo was taken as well.

If, years later, you're trying to remember who you grabbed coffee with that day, Google can help you remember.

What you talk about
Does Google keep track of what you talk about over Gmail? It's an issue up for debate -- the company announced in 2017 that they would stop reading emails for the purposes of creating targeted advertisements. Whether they've actually stopped reading them altogether is another matter.

What You Like and Dislike

Google is in the business of knowing what you're into -- it's how the search engine creates and sells such a personalized advertising experience. From your favorite movie genre to your favorite type of food, Google knows your preferences.

Food, books and movies
Google can use search engine data, like recipes you've researched or book titles you've searched for, to form an idea of what you like and dislike. Certain apps like Google Books, which keeps tracks of the books you've searched and read, deepen this knowledge. Additionally, Google owns YouTube, which means they know which movie trailers you've been seeking out.

Google uses this information, as well as the websites you've visited and the ads you've clicked on, to create a profile of the subjects they think you're interested in. You can see a full list of who they think you are -- down to what shows you watch and what hobbies you pursue in your free time -- in their ads dashboard .

Where you shop and what you buy
If you've ever used Google Shopping to compare the prices of online vendors, Google knows about it. They also know what products you've searched and clicked on through Google Search and can track your website visits and what products you've viewed on retailer websites through Google Chrome.

Your Future Plans

Google's knowledge isn't limited to what you've done in the past or are doing in the present. The company can also use data from their applications and search engine to make predictions about what you'll be doing in the future.

What you're interested in buying, seeing or eating
Interested in seeing a new movie? Checking out a new restaurant or taking a weekend trip to a new city? If you've used Google Search to look up the movie times, make an online reservation or scout out the best tourist activity, Google knows.

Upcoming trips and reservations
Have you searched restaurants to eat at and shows to go to in the city you're visiting? Have you created an itinerary in Google Calendar? Google can collect that data in order to assess your upcoming trips. Google also scans your emails to see what flights you have coming up and can automatically add restaurant reservations to your schedule based on confirmations that have been sent to Gmail.

Future life plans
Have you been searching about homeownership? About when the best age to have children is? About tips for travelling to China? Google uses this information to understand more about you and what you want in the future, to better tailor online advertisements to your needs.

Your Online Life

At its most basic, Google is a search engine and internet services company. So, it's no surprise that in addition to knowing a wealth of your personal details, the site also knows everything there is to know about what you do online.

Websites you've visited
Google keeps a comprehensive list of every site you've visited on Chrome, from any device. The site also keeps a running tab of every search you've run, every ad you've clicked on and every YouTube video you've watched.

Your browsing habits
From how many sites you have bookmarked to how many passwords Chrome auto-fills, Google has a comprehensive understanding of your browser habits, including:

If you're unnerved by the amount of information Google has on you, there are several steps you can take to get around the company's relentless tracking.

1. Use a VPN

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a secure option to keep Google from tracking you while you're online. Although virtual private networks can't completely keep the company from accessing your data, they do hide your IP address , encrypt your internet traffic and make your browsing history private, keeping your online actions much more secure.

2. Use private browsing

Use Google's Incognito Mode to ensure that the pages you access won't show up in your browsing history or search history. Be aware, however, that other websites can still collect and share information about you, even when you're using private browsing.

3. Adjust your privacy settings

Check out Google's Activity Controls to change what data is stored about you and visit your Activity Page to delete stored history and activity.

4. Turn off location reporting

In Google Maps -- as well as in your Android and Pixel device settings, if you use those products -- disable location reporting to keep Google from tracking where you are and where you go. If you use Google Maps or Waze for directions, though, the company can still collect location data on you when you're using those apps.

5. Use a different browser and search engine

To stop Google from tracking your searches and website visits, you can use another browser and search engine, like Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Bing. However, this will only stop Google from tracking you -- Microsoft (or whatever company owns the browser you switch to) will get your data instead.

6. Delete your Google accounts

To truly stop the tech giant from tracking you, you'll need to take drastic measures -- namely, disavowing the use of any of the company's products. That means deleting any apps linked to the company, including Gmail, Google Drive and any Android devices, and moving to a different browser and search engine.

Google has made life a lot simpler in many ways. Google Search has made answers just a click away. Google Maps has made directions easy to find and understand. Google Drive has made working across multiple platforms seamless.

This convenience comes with a price: privacy. If you're concerned about how Google is tracking you -- and what they're doing with the data -- follow the steps above to keep yourself safe, and visit Google's Privacy Site for a more comprehensive overview of what data Google is tracking and how they use it.

[Jul 28, 2018] Google, Facebook, MSN, and Twitter are all highly suspect

Notable quotes:
"... When monopolies are allowed flourish, giants develops. Giants tend to covet the source of their monopolies. In the case of Information monopolies, removing available information and omitting it from search engine searches and public indexes, often start as a means to offer access in exchange for money , but soon evolves into using technology to control the entire information environment . ..."
"... Gating access to information and controlling one's information environment allows to engineer a persons culture, sense of self, and level of satisfaction (as in pacification) this is done much the same way a psychiatrist might do to a rat caged in a research lab. ..."
Aug 24, 2017 | www.moonofalabama.org

fudmier , Aug 24, 2017 5:27:02 AM | 65

re: 37 .. get Tor Browswer use Duckduckgo.com which I believe is free from tracking .

Google Facebook MSN, and Twitter are all highly suspect.. as is email that is secretly maintained by our largest communications giant. IMHO.
the biggest danger to democracy I see is not trade corruption between leaders of nation states, but on-going removal of available information from view of the common ordinary people (denial of access is one thing, but denial of awareness that certain information might exist is quite another ).

At the moment the American Disabilities act is forcing colleges and educational institutions to remove educational materials from public access and denying the public the use of such educational materials.

When monopolies are allowed flourish, giants develops. Giants tend to covet the source of their monopolies. In the case of Information monopolies, removing available information and omitting it from search engine searches and public indexes, often start as a means to offer access in exchange for money , but soon evolves into using technology to control the entire information environment .

Gating access to information and controlling one's information environment allows to engineer a persons culture, sense of self, and level of satisfaction (as in pacification) this is done much the same way a psychiatrist might do to a rat caged in a research lab. .

[Jul 28, 2018] Alphabet's Eric Schmidt Steps Down From Executive Chairman Role

There are two faces of Google: evil (systematic collection of user data, collision with the intelligence agencies( Snowden revelations about PRISM, Gmail) and good (Googlemap (rumored to be a present from the US military), Youtube, Google translator, Google scholar, and several other projects).
Jul 28, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

It documents that Eric Emerson Schmidt , the Executive Chairman of Alphabet – an American multinational conglomerate that owns a lot and among them Google – is working on "de-ranking" alleged propaganda outlets such as Russia Today, RT – the world's third largest television network – and Sputnik.

Who is Eric Schmidt?

On the Wikipedia link you can read more about Mr. Schmidt , one of the richest person on earth, an advocate of net neutrality, a corporate manager and owner of a lot, a collector of modern art, etc. And you can read about his heavy involvement with Hillary Clinton's recent campaign and the Obama administration and about Schmidt's involvement with Pentagon, too.

Eric Emerson Schmidt's name is associated with the world's largest and most systematic data collecting search engine , Google, that millions upon millions use. School children, teachers, parents, media people, politicians and you and I all daily "google" what we need to know.

While we do that, Google tracks everything about us and if you are searching for a thing to buy, say a camera, be sure that camera ads will shortly after turn up on your screen. And they know everything we are interested in through our "googling" including political interests and hobbies.

Playing God

This very powerful corporate leader with a open political orientation has decided - as will be seen 58 seconds into the video – that the Internet and his hugely dominating search engine a) shall cave in to political pressure, b) de-rank at least these two Russian media organizations because c) he knows they are "propaganda outlets" (it isn't discussed at all or compared with US or other countries' media) and d) in the name of political correctness it is OK to limit the freedom of opinion-formation.

In fact, he says in a few words that he – well, not he himself but a computer program and mechanism called an algorithm – shall decide what you are I shall be able to find. Google as Good, Google as God.

Conspicuously, his de-ranking – read censorship – policy shall not hit media (as far as we can understand from this clip at least and not from this backgrounder either) that have, for instance, been using fake news and planted stories, omitted facts and perspectives and sources and told us propaganda and worse about, say, US wars around the world.

It's Russia's media. And naturally you ask: Whose next? And where does that end? ("Wherever they burn books, in the end will also burn human beings." – Heinrich Heine).

Obvious human rights violation

This type of political paternalism is not only totally unethical and foolish, it's a violation of human rights. It cannot be defended with the argument that other countries and media outlets also use propaganda. The Western world – the U.S. in particular – calls itself 'the free world" and gladly, without the slightest doubts, fights and kills to spread that freedom around the world and has done so for decades.

We humans have right to information without interference – at least if international law counts. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."

You abuse power, Mr. Schmidt

Mr Schmidt, you are blatantly and clearly interfering in the rights of millions, if not billions, to know. To seek information. To shape their opinions.

With your few words you abuse your almost unlimited digital, political, economic and 'defence' power – much much worse than if you had sexually abused just one woman for which older men today are fired or choose to resign.

This has to be stated irrespective of whether we like or dislike Russia and its media. That is not the issue here. This has to be fought against because it is slippery slope, Mr Schmidt.

You ought to stand up and use your powers with principles and vision: To protect the Internet against every and each reduction of freedom. Freedom for all, also the fake news-makers however we define them. Yes, there is another solution for that problem and it is not your paternalism.

It just cannot be for you to decide what is good for others and collect data about us all which is only good for you.

Has the West really become so insecure about itself?

Censorship – de-ranking – and information warfare is not the solution to anything. A strong society or culture that believes in its own moral value and vitality does not censor. Dictatorships – "regimes" – do.

Mr. Schmidt has much more power than many state leaders but he is not up to it and how would he be able to re-rank themes and media again in the future.

Has the West, the US and Western culture become so weak, so trembling at the sight of the global future and so morally deranged that it cannot live with – does not believe it can compete factually and intelligently with – other views? With fake? With propaganda by others? If so, that is where the Soviet Union was in the early 1980s. And if so, watch the writing of the Western walls!

Education and trust

There are much better solutions – if you think. Mr. Schmidt may also google them

It's education – education of young and old to learn to identify what is trustworthy and what is not. Learning to learn on the Internet. It is dialogue and it is dignity – instead of succumbing to the lowest of levels that he accuses others of being at.

And there is more solutions.

Making democracy, freedom and human rights stronger – by believing in human beings, their intelligence and solidarity. When Google de-ranks, it de-humanises. It offends the intelligence of the world's users of the Google search engine.

It sinks to the low level where fakers and liars are – devoid of morals but passionate about selling a particular message even if totally unfounded.

What are you so afraid of, Mr. Schmidt?

If I were Eric Schmidt, I think I would be afraid of being perceived as a "useful idiot" or an an evil operator on behalf of US militarism – since he is targeting Russia in a the new Cold War atmosphere.

After all is/was a member also of various US government security and Pentagon related boards. And after all, he spoke at the Halifax Security Forum filled with military defence people and hardliners who see only Russia, North Korea and Iran as problems, never the US itself. One of the panels deals with the "Post-Putin Prep"!

Regime change in Russia too in the future and with truthful news from Google?

Mr. Schmidt and his corporate fellows should also be afraid that millions will become more sympathetic to Russia Today, Sputnik and even Russia itself precisely because of his words.

There are no wars on the ground without information war. If Schmidt's Google fights political wars with de-ranking, many of us will be de-parting to more peaceful, rights-respecting and ethical search engines than his. ...


Thought Processor , Dec 21, 2017 5:17 PM

I would imagine that the CIA will still have key oversight even if Schmidt steps down.

Pinto Currency -> bamawatson , Dec 21, 2017 5:30 PM

Just because he used the company to interfere in the US election siding with Clinton?

Surely In-Q-Tel would appove, no?

Yes We Can. But... -> HowdyDoody , Dec 21, 2017 5:49 PM

Perhaps this sheds a bit of light on the matter...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2377785/Google-CEO-serial-womani...

Cutter -> Yes We Can. But Lets Not. , Dec 21, 2017 5:51 PM

Yup. I was thinking it. Didn't want to say it.

Laughing.Man -> Yes We Can. But Lets Not. , Dec 21, 2017 6:01 PM

Never would have guessed that he's a serial womanizer. I was expect something more disgusting.

Yes We Can. But... -> Laughing.Man , Dec 21, 2017 7:11 PM

Well, he does have the serial love-nest soundproofed.

topspinslicer , Dec 21, 2017 5:38 PM

About time. He did plenty of evil . Why be such an arrogant bastard when you are a mere mortal?

Tachyon5321 , Dec 21, 2017 5:39 PM

Right, considering Schmidt is known to have hung out at the Playboy manor and has loved up more than his share of the babes... No proof, but this sounds like damage control.

DipshitMiddleCl... , Dec 21, 2017 5:53 PM

Googles dragnet is scary good. They have 1984 levels of power via manipulation of data and information.

I wouldnt be surprised if they have secretive hedge funds internally or "partners" in which they share data with to trade on.

Avichi , Dec 21, 2017 6:04 PM

38 Million Home in Montecito CA ...may be burnt down by recent Thomas Fire ? Need Money for Alimony and Insurance ? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2377785/Google-CEO-serial-womani...

Here is his home http://virtualglobetrotting.com/map/eric-e-schmidts-house/

Mena Arkansas , Dec 21, 2017 6:05 PM

So will he go back to his day job at the NSA or just retire to banging young women not his wife on his megayacht?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2371719/Googles-Eric-Schmidts-op...

http://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/eric-schmidt-google-scandal

pitz , Dec 21, 2017 6:22 PM

Never understood why Google went anywhere. It wasn't superior to anything search-wise until the mid 2000s and earlier in the decade was little more than a joke with a curious name. "PageRank" was nothing particularly interesting, and was generally too computationally complex to implement anyways. Almost nothing was uniquely invented at Google, a company that mostly leveraged open source software created elsewhere. So what is Google really? And why do they have such a cult following?

ThanksIwillHave... -> pitz , Dec 21, 2017 6:50 PM

Yahoo atrophied in the face on millions of websites, Alta Vista conquered that but the user still had read thru wads of results, then Google came along and it was a breath of fresh air, then Google accrued too much power and became Goolag.

GreatUncle -> ThanksIwillHaveAnother , Dec 21, 2017 8:55 PM

+1 Alta Vista was good, but the CIA / US government did not back them.

But if they had they would be in the same position as google.

[Jul 28, 2018] Ex-Amazon workers talk of 'horrendous' conditions

Aug 01, 2013 | www.youtube.com

Hundreds of employees of online store Amazon on zero hours contracts are subjected to a regime described as "horrendous" and "exhausting", it is claimed.


Shaun Dobbie , 2 years ago

The place is full of favoritism and you MUST hit target at all times regardless of what barriers you face. Mostly I have enjoyed my job there but I am starting to be picked on.

Adoon Q , 1 year ago

This is the worst place to ever work. They say you have two 15 minute breaks but it's actually a lot less. The amount of people waiting to go through 2 metal detector doors is unreal. It's more like a 7 minute break if you're lucky, same with the lunch. So glad that I'm not working at this company anymore, I now have a much better job with better hours and pay.

spidermandan2k7 , 1 year ago

I worked for amazon in 2014, the interview was via an agency where a group of us has to do a couple of written tests and then urinate into pots. I applied for the picker and packer team and when I got started I was put on the heavy lifting section.

Once I got my first shift/training the "team leaders" were useless and anytime you asked a question it was like an issue to them. One female team leader tried to ignore me for as long as she could until i finally got her attention and she answered with a nasty attitude.

On my second day which was my first time doing the heavy lifting, "team leaders" walking across a skywalk just above our heads and constantly monitoring what everything was doing even going as far as to smack a stick on the railing to stop a conversation.

They would occasionally be walking behind you aswell. It felt more like work in a prison being watched by guards.

The security staff were the biggest bunch of overly macho idiots I've ever seen, walking around with the chests pushed out and shouting silly jokes at the workers expense. You're not allowed nothing in your pockets while in the warehouse and I was told a lighter would be fine by one of the team leaders, but once I went to leave through the metal detectors one of the said macho bunch came over and spoke to me like dirt demanding my name and when I tried to explain it to him his attitude become more hostile to me.

Needless to say after my 2nd shift I quit as I was not about to put myself through something like that.

When I went into hand my ID card in 2 team leaders and 2 security were at reception and even giving that back consisted of a nasty attitude and asking what I was doing and why I was leaving. I simply smiled and said better job offer and left without giving them a chance to talk. It truly is a horrible place to work for and could be advertised as a prison job experience!

No Hope For Humanity , 1 year ago

My sister worked for Amazon for about a month before they sacked her.

She said they followed her everywhere from the bathroom to the break room, and she wasn't allowed to take more than one five minute break a day.

She had one friend there who she talked to, and they fired him as well. Amazon is garbage.

whoami , 1 year ago

Bezos is yet another disgusting immoral man driven by his mortal greed - with proof. if every amazon user that is aware of this reality decided to not buy from amazon again, this would be the fairest punishment. I wish everyone has an alternative choice for work and never has to choose to work for this greedy and inhumane corporation called amazon. absolutely revolting.

[Jul 28, 2018] Surveillance Valley by Yasha Levine Hachette Book Group PublicAffairs

Notable quotes:
"... NBC Evening News ..."
"... Surveillance Valley ..."
"... Surveillance Valley ..."
Jul 28, 2018 | www.publicaffairsbooks.com

The Secret Military History of the Internet

by Yasha Levine The internet is the most effective weapon the government has ever built.

In this fascinating book, investigative reporter Yasha Levine uncovers the secret origins of the internet, tracing it back to a Pentagon... Read More

Genre: Nonfiction / Political Science / Privacy & Surveillance

On Sale: February 6th 2018

Price: $16.99 / $21.99 (CDN)

Page Count: 384

ISBN-13: 9781610398039

Public Affairs Logo Read Excerpt Request Desk/Exam Copy

Don't miss news from PublicAffairs

By clicking 'Sign Up,' I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Hachette Book Group's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use What's Inside Prologue Oakland, California

I t was February 18, 2014, and already dark when I crossed the Bay Bridge from San Francisco and parked my car in downtown Oakland. The streets were deserted, save for a couple of homeless men slumped in a heap against a closed storefront. Two police cruisers raced through a red light, sirens blaring.

I approached Oakland's city hall on foot. Even from a distance, I could see that something unusual was going on. A line of parked police cars ran down the block, and news anchors and TV camera crews scampered about, jockeying for position. A large group of people milled near the entrance, a few of them setting up what looked like a giant papier-mâché rat, presumably intended as a symbol for snitching. But the real action was inside. Several hundred people packed Oakland's ornate high-domed city council chamber. Many of them carried signs. It was an angry crowd, and police officers flanked the sides of the room, ready to push everyone out if things got out of hand.

The commotion was tied to the main agenda item of the night: the city council was scheduled to vote on an ambitious $11 million project to create a citywide police surveillance hub. Its official name was the "Domain Awareness Center" -- but everyone called it "the DAC." Design specs called for linking real-time video feeds from thousands of cameras across the city and funneling them into a unified control hub. Police would be able to punch in a location and watch it in real time or wind back the clock. They could turn on face recognition and vehicle tracking systems, plug in social media feeds, and enhance their view with data coming in from other law enforcement agencies -- both local and federal. 1

Plans for this surveillance center had been roiling city politics for months, and the outrage was now making its presence felt. Residents, religious leaders, labor activists, retired politicians, masked "black bloc" anarchists, and reps from the American Civil Liberties Union -- they were all in attendance, rubbing shoulder to shoulder with a group of dedicated local activists who had banded together to stop the DAC. A nervous, bespectacled city official in a tan suit took the podium to reassure the agitated crowd that the Domain Awareness Center was designed to protect them -- not spy on them. "This is not a fusion center. We have no agreements with the NSA or the CIA or the FBI to access our databases," he said.

The hall blew up in pandemonium. The crowd wasn't buying it. People booed and hissed. "This is all about monitoring protesters," someone screamed from the balcony. A young man, his face obscured by a mask, stalked to the front of the room and menacingly jammed his smartphone in the city official's face and snapped photos. "How does that feel? How do you like that -- being surveilled all the time!" he yelled. A middle-aged man -- bald, wearing glasses and crumpled khakis -- took the podium and tore into the city's political leaders. "You council members somehow believe that the Oakland Police Department, which has an unparalleled history of violating the civil rights of Oaklanders and which cannot even follow its own policies, be it a crowd control policy or a body camera policy, can somehow be trusted to use the DAC?" He left with a bang, yelling: "The only good DAC is a dead DAC!" Wild applause erupted.

Oakland is one of the most diverse cities in the country. It's also home to a violent, often unaccountable police department, which has been operating under federal oversight for over a decade. The police abuse has been playing out against a backdrop of increasing gentrification fueled by the area's Internet boom and the spike in real estate prices that goes along with it. In San Francisco, neighborhoods like the Mission District, historically home to a vibrant Latino community, have turned into condos and lofts and upscale gastro pubs. Teachers, artists, older adults, and anyone else not making a six-figure salary are having a tough time making ends meet. Oakland, which for a time was spared this fate, was now feeling the crush as well. But locals were not going down without a fight. And a lot of their anger was focused on Silicon Valley.

The people gathered at city hall that night saw Oakland's DAC as an extension of the tech-fueled gentrification that was pushing poorer longtime residents out of the city. "We're not stupid. We know that the purpose is to monitor Muslims, black and brown communities and protesters," said a young woman in a headscarf. "This center comes at a time when you're trying to develop Oakland into a playground and bedroom community for San Francisco professionals. These efforts require you to make Oakland quieter, whiter, less scary and wealthier -- and that means getting rid of Muslims, black and brown people and protesters. You know this and so do developers. We heard them at meetings. They are scared. They verbally admit it."

She had a point. A few months earlier, a pair of Oakland investigative journalists had obtained a cache of internal city-planning documents dealing with the DAC and found that city officials seemed to be interested more in using the proposed surveillance center to monitor political protests and labor union activity at the Oakland docks than in fighting crime. 2

There was another wrinkle. Oakland had initially contracted out development of the DAC to the Science Applications International Corporation, a massive California-based military contractor that does so much work for the National Security Agency that it is known in the intelligence business as "NSA West." The company is also a major CIA contractor, involved in everything from monitoring agency employees as part of the agency's "insider threat" programs to running the CIA's drone assassination fleet. Multiple Oakland residents came up to blast the city's decision to partner with a company that was such an integral part of the US military and intelligence apparatus. "SAIC facilitates the telecommunications for the drone program in Afghanistan that's murdered over a thousand innocent civilians, including children," said a man in a black sweater. "And this is the company you chose?"

I looked around the room in amazement. This was the heart of a supposedly progressive San Francisco Bay Area, and yet the city planned on partnering with a powerful intelligence contractor to build a police surveillance center that, if press reports were correct, officials wanted to use to spy on and monitor locals. Something made that scene even stranger to me that night. Thanks to a tip from a local activist, I had gotten wind that Oakland had been in talks with Google about demoing products in what appeared to be an attempt by the company to get a part of the DAC contract.

Google possibly helping Oakland spy on its residents? If true, it would be particularly damning. Many Oaklanders saw Silicon Valley companies such as Google as being the prime drivers of the skyrocketing housing prices, gentrification, and aggressive policing that was making life miserable for poor and low-income residents. Indeed, just a few weeks earlier protesters had picketed outside the local home of a wealthy Google manager who was personally involved in a nearby luxury real estate development.

Google's name never came up during the tumultuous city council meeting that night, but I did manage to get my hands on a brief email exchange between a Google "strategic partnership manager" and an Oakland official spearheading the DAC project that hinted at something in the works. 3

In the weeks after the city council meeting, I attempted to clarify this relationship. What kinds of services did Google offer Oakland's police surveillance center? How far did the talks progress? Were they fruitful? My requests to Oakland were ignored and Google wasn't talking either -- trying to get answers from the company was like talking to a giant rock. My investigation stalled further when Oakland residents temporarily succeeded in getting the city to halt its plans for the DAC.

Though Oakland's police surveillance center was put on hold, the question remained: What could Google, a company obsessed with its progressive "Don't Be Evil" image, offer a controversial police surveillance center?

At the time, I was a reporter for Pando , a small but fearless San Francisco magazine that covered the politics and business of Silicon Valley. I knew that Google made most of its money through a sophisticated targeted advertising system that tracked its users and built predictive models of their behavior and interests. The company had a glimpse into the lives of close to two billion people who used its platforms -- from email to video to mobile phones -- and it performed a strange kind of alchemy, turning people's data into gold: nearly $100 billion in annual revenue and a market capitalization of $600 billion; its cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin had a combined personal wealth estimated to be $90 billion.

Google is one of the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in the world, yet it presents itself as one of the good guys: a company on a mission to make the world a better place and a bulwark against corrupt and intrusive governments all around the globe. And yet, as I traced the story and dug into the details of Google's government contracting business, I discovered that the company was already a full-fledged military contractor, selling versions of its consumer data mining and analysis technology to police departments, city governments, and just about every major US intelligence and military agency. Over the years, it had supplied mapping technology used by the US Army in Iraq, hosted data for the Central Intelligence Agency, indexed the National Security Agency's vast intelligence databases, built military robots, colaunched a spy satellite with the Pentagon, and leased its cloud computing platform to help police departments predict crime. And Google is not alone. From Amazon to eBay to Facebook -- most of the Internet companies we use every day have also grown into powerful corporations that track and profile their users while pursuing partnerships and business relationships with major US military and intelligence agencies. Some parts of these companies are so thoroughly intertwined with America's security services that it is hard to tell where they end and the US government begins.

Since the start of the personal computer and Internet revolution in the 1990s, we've been told again and again that we are in the grips of a liberating technology, a tool that decentralizes power, topples entrenched bureaucracies, and brings more democracy and equality to the world. Personal computers and information networks were supposed to be the new frontier of freedom -- a techno-utopia where authoritarian and repressive structures lost their power, and where the creation of a better world was still possible. And all that we, global netizens, had to do for this new and better world to flower and bloom was to get out of the way and let Internet companies innovate and the market work its magic. This narrative has been planted deep into our culture's collective subconscious and holds a powerful sway over the way we view the Internet today.

But spend time looking at the nitty-gritty business details of the Internet and the story gets darker, less optimistic. If the Internet is truly such a revolutionary break from the past, why are companies like Google in bed with cops and spies?

I tried to answer this seemingly simple question after visiting Oakland that night in February. Little did I know then that this would take me on a deep dive into the history of the Internet and ultimately lead me to write this book. Now, after three years of investigative work, interviews, travel across two continents, and countless hours of correlating and researching historical and declassified records, I know the answer.

Pick up any popular history of the Internet and you will generally find a combination of two narratives describing where this computer networking technology came from. The first narrative is that it emerged out of the military's need for a communication network that could survive a nuclear blast. That led to the development of the early Internet, first known as ARPANET, built by the Pentagon's Advanced Research Projects Agency (known today as the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA). The network went live in the late 1960s and featured a decentralized design that could route messages even if parts of the network were destroyed by a nuclear blast. The second narrative, which is the most dominant, contends that there was no military application of the early Internet at all. In this version, the ARPANET was built by radical young computer engineers and playful hackers deeply influenced by the acid-drenched counterculture of the San Francisco Bay Area. They cared not a damn about war or surveillance or anything of the sort, but dreamed of computer-mediated utopias that would make militaries obsolete. They built a civilian network to bring this future into reality, and it is this version of the ARPANET that then grew into the Internet we use today. For years, a conflict has raged between these historical interpretations. These days, most histories offer a mix of the two -- acknowledging the first, yet leaning much more heavily on the second.

My research reveals a third historical strand in the creation of the early Internet -- a strand that has all but disappeared from the history books. Here, the impetus was rooted not so much in the need to survive a nuclear attack but in the dark military arts of counterinsurgency and America's fight against the perceived global spread of communism. In the 1960s, America was a global power overseeing an increasingly volatile world: conflicts and regional insurgencies against US-allied governments from South America to Southeast Asia and the Middle East. These were not traditional wars that involved big armies but guerrilla campaigns and local rebellions, frequently fought in regions where Americans had little previous experience. Who were these people? Why were they rebelling? What could be done to stop them? In military circles, it was believed that these questions were of vital importance to America's pacification efforts, and some argued that the only effective way to answer them was to develop and leverage computer-aided information technology.

The Internet came out of this effort: an attempt to build computer systems that could collect and share intelligence, watch the world in real time, and study and analyze people and political movements with the ultimate goal of predicting and preventing social upheaval. Some even dreamed of creating a sort of early warning radar for human societies: a networked computer system that watched for social and political threats and intercepted them in much the same way that traditional radar did for hostile aircraft. In other words, the Internet was hardwired to be a surveillance tool from the start. No matter what we use the network for today -- dating, directions, encrypted chat, email, or just reading the news -- it always had a dual-use nature rooted in intelligence gathering and war.

As I traced this forgotten history, I found that I was not so much discovering something new but uncovering something that was plainly obvious to a lot of people not so long ago. Starting in the early 1960s in the United States, a big fear about the proliferation of computer database and networking technologies arose. People worried that these systems would be used by both corporations and governments for surveillance and control. Indeed, the dominant cultural view at the time was that computers and computing technology -- including the ARPANET, the military research network that would grow into the Internet we use today -- were tools of repression, not liberation.

In the course of my investigation, I was genuinely shocked to discover that as early as 1969, the first year that the ARPANET came online, a group of students at MIT and Harvard attempted to shut down research taking place at their universities under the ARPANET umbrella. They saw this computer network as the start of a hybrid private-public system of surveillance and control -- "computerized people-manipulation" they called it -- and warned that it would be used to spy on Americans and wage war on progressive political movements. They understood this technology better than we do today. More importantly, they were right. In 1972, almost as soon as the ARPANET was rolled out on a national level, the network was used to help the CIA, the NSA, and the US Army spy on tens of thousands of antiwar and civil rights activists. It was a big scandal at the time, and the ARPANET's role in it was discussed at length on American television, including NBC Evening News .

This episode, which took place forty-five years ago, is a vital part of the historical record, important to anyone who wants to understand the network that mediates so much of our lives today. Yet you won't find it mentioned in any recent book or documentary on the origins of the Internet -- at least not any that I could find, and I read and watched just about all of them.

Surveillance Valley is an attempt to recover part of this lost history. But it is more than that. The book starts in the past, going back to the development of what we now call the Internet during the Vietnam War. But it quickly moves into the present, looking at the private surveillance business that powers much of Silicon Valley, investigating the ongoing overlap between the Internet and the military-industrial complex that spawned it half a century ago, and uncovering the close ties that exist between US intelligence agencies and the antigovernment privacy movement that has sprung up in the wake of Edward Snowden's leaks. Surveillance Valley shows that little has changed over the years: the Internet was developed as a weapon and remains a weapon today. American military interests continue to dominate all parts of the network, even those that supposedly stand in opposition.

Yasha Levine

New York

December 2017

[Jul 23, 2018] the CIA is the armed wing of Washington s permanently governing technocratic party, in the same way the KGB was the armed wing of the Soviet Communist Party.

"Yes, the Aspen Institute is the CIA and the CIA is the Aspen Institute"
Notable quotes:
"... CIA manages transnational organized crime to top up their budget for unauthorized clandestine operations, like killing JFK. CIA protects its criminal protégés with their chartered impunity. ..."
"... RFK knew how it works. RFK junior explained the reason for RFK's focus on organized-crime until CIA whacked him. That's why his book was made to sink without a ripple. ..."
"... Evenfurthermore, CIA is the government and the government is CIA. Decades ago Fletcher Prouty showed that CIA's deepest-cover illegal moles are embedded in our own government. Every agency with repressive capacity is infiltrated with focal points, who report to CIA handlers without the other agency's knowledge. ..."
"... Of course Israel is trying to infiltrate it -- they understand the levers of power. ..."
"... Assange has got some mighty stinkers in his insurance file. All we can do is hope they're enough to destabilize the CIA Reich that has ruled America since 1949. ..."
Jul 23, 2018 | www.unz.com

Yes, the Aspen Institute is the CIA and the CIA is the Aspen Institute. Or, to be more precise, the CIA is the armed wing of Washington's permanently governing technocratic party, in the same way the KGB was the armed wing of the Soviet Communist Party.

Poor Julian Assange is likely going to be in their hands not too long from now. The citizen of one Five Eyes country will be arrested by another and then sent off to the imperial metropole, to be kicked around like a political football. The rest of us Anglosphericals are expected to cheer or remain silent. Either is acceptable.

MK-DELTABURKE , July 23, 2018 at 12:40 pm GMT

Yup. Furthermore, CIA is organized crime and organized crime is CIA. CIA recruits and runs agents in favored criminal syndicates in every illicit trade: drugs, child sexual trafficking, arms, fraud, bustouts, extortion, money laundering. Their purpose is not to interdict the trade but to control it.

CIA manages transnational organized crime to top up their budget for unauthorized clandestine operations, like killing JFK. CIA protects its criminal protégés with their chartered impunity.

They call off law enforcement with the magic words national security or 'sources and methods.' If the plan gets exposed, CIA's criminal cutouts insulate the agency from exposure.

RFK knew how it works. RFK junior explained the reason for RFK's focus on organized-crime until CIA whacked him. That's why his book was made to sink without a ripple.

https://popularresistance.org/the-mass-media-will-not-review-rfk-jr-s-book-why/

Evenfurthermore, CIA is the government and the government is CIA. Decades ago Fletcher Prouty showed that CIA's deepest-cover illegal moles are embedded in our own government. Every agency with repressive capacity is infiltrated with focal points, who report to CIA handlers without the other agency's knowledge.

https://ratical.org/ratville/JFK/ST/ST.html

Of course Israel is trying to infiltrate it -- they understand the levers of power.

Assange has got some mighty stinkers in his insurance file. All we can do is hope they're enough to destabilize the CIA Reich that has ruled America since 1949.

[Jul 18, 2018] Why I Hate Google, Twitter, and Facebook

Notable quotes:
"... By Lambert Strether of Corrente . ..."
"... twelve (12) days old ..."
"... carefully curated ..."
"... have innovated the paragraph ..."
"... Amen to the part about Google. Once upon a time I could start a Google search with a high probability of finding something useful. These days I have to darned near know the result before I'll find anything. ..."
"... I agree that Google search is not as good as it once was but it could be that the web itself has changed with far more commercial and bubble gum content. There was a time long ago when only nerds used computers. ..."
"... I find Google regularly overriding specific search terms, particularly when I put in a short phrase in quotes, which means Google is supposed to deliver results that match that exact phrase. First page, even the very first result, regularly violate the search criteria. Never happened before ~ 2 years ago. ..."
"... "Isikoff checked the facts for his new book so hard, they were carried off unconscious, and remain in a coma" ..."
Jul 18, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Posted on July 17, 2018 by Lambert Strether By Lambert Strether of Corrente .

I am a blogger. It is my job to blog, which I've been doing on a daily basis since 2003. Reading and writing is what I do all day. I'm lucky to be able to survive doing it, and I'm happy to be doing it[1]. I hate Google because it tries to make me a stupid reader. I hate Twitter and Facebook because they make me a stupid writer. I've been wanting to get this off my chest for some time, so allow me to explain.

Let's where I start, with reading. As a blogger, I need to process and filter enormous amounts of newsworthy content hours a day, every day (as does Yves). I am like an enormous baleen whale nourished by krill. So here is how the insanely stupid and wasteful Google News helps me -- and you, dear readers! -- do this:

(I've erased the Weather box at top right, which is Google's little way of letting me know it's tracking my location even though cookies are off.) First, look at the page, which is a complete screenful on a laptop (i.e., on the screen of professional content creator who values his time, not a teensy little cellphone screen). In the news links column at left, there are a grand total of nine (9) stories. Please, can we get the steam-era list of blue links back, where we could scan 30 or 40 headlines in a single second's saccade? And note the sources: CNN, HuffPost, Fox, WaPo, NBC News, NPR, CNN, and the WSJ. This is an ecoystem about as barren as my neighbor's lawn! (And if you click on the laughingly named "View full coverage" link, you'll see a page just as empty and vacuous though slightly less barren, with more obcure sources, like Reuters. Or Salon.) You will also note the obvious way in which the page has been gamed by gaslighters and moral panic engineers, who can drive every other story off the front page through sheer volume Finally, you'll note that the fact checkers include organs of state security , in the form of polygraph.info , "a fact-checking website produced by Voice of America (VOA)​ and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty."

Now let's try to use Google News for search. (I find Google proper, though still crapified, better for news, especially if I limit the search by time.) I chose "start treaty," for obvious reasons. Here is the results page:

Yes, on a complete, entire laptop page, there are in total five (5) hits, 3 from the impoverished ecosytem noted above, and one from an organ of state security (RadioFreeEurope/RadioLiberty). The last hit, from Vox, is twelve (12) days old . Surely there's something more current? Note also the random ordering of the hits: Today, yesterday, 6 days ago, 2 days ago, 12 days ago. (There is, of course, no way to change the ordering.) A news feed that doesn't organize stories chronologically? That doesn't surface current content? What horrible virus has rotted the brain matter of the Google engineers who created this monstrosity? And one more thing:

Famously, the normal Google search page ends with "1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next." Crapified though Google search results are, if you spend some time clicking and scanning, you'll generally be able to come up with something useful five or ten pages in, maybe (if you're lucky) from a source you don't already know exists. Not so with Google "News." When the page ends, it just ends. When the algo has coughed up whatever hairball it's coughed up, it's done. No more. Again, this is news? What about the same story a week ago? A month ago? What does "our democracy" have a free press for, if Google gets in the way of being able to find anything?

So, the Google News experience is so vile and degrading in its stupidity and insolence that I use another tool for reading the news: Twitter. And despite its well-deserved reputation as a hell-site, Twitter -- carefully curated -- does the job, as long as you don't ask too much of it, like news that's more than a month or so old. My beef with Twitter is not as a reader, but as a writer. Here is how you create a tweet in Twitter:

I'll have a sidebar on those miserably inadequate writing tools, at left, in a moment. For now, look at the bottom right: Those disruptive Silicon Valley engineers have innovated the paragraph :

When you click that plus sign, you get A second Tweet, connected to the first, in an easy-to-close-accidentally modal dialog box!

Here, I remind you of the steam age of Blogger, where you could -- hold onto your hats, here, folks -- create a post, composed of paragraphs -- or, if you were a poet, lines; or an artist, images and captions; or an accountant, tables -- all with at least some degree of "flow" and ease. You could even have subheads, to divide your content into sections! The billionaire brainiacs at Twitter have managed to create that first, minimal functionality -- the paragraph -- but without the ability to re-arrange, or even to edit your paragraphs after posting! Does Jack laugh alone at night?[2].

... ... ...


Zachary Smith , July 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

Amen to the part about Google. Once upon a time I could start a Google search with a high probability of finding something useful. These days I have to darned near know the result before I'll find anything. Google News used to have a dense list of news stories. I don't have a bookmark to the place anymore, relying instead on blog headlines and the like.

Since I've heard nothing good about Facebook I'm agreeable to the notion the site isn't something for me. Never tried "tweeting" and have no plans to do so.

Carolinian , July 17, 2018 at 4:22 pm

I agree that Google search is not as good as it once was but it could be that the web itself has changed with far more commercial and bubble gum content. There was a time long ago when only nerds used computers.

But I don't agree that Google News was ever very useful. Google always admitted that it was edited by algo and it seemed to be a kind of Headline News news summary–the opposite of what a hard core news junkie would want.

RSS is still around and IMO the most useful tool for keeping track of a large number of websites. For off the beaten path links that may not show up on a favorite site there are websites like this one (thanks Yves and Lambert and Jerri-Lynn).

Yves Smith , July 18, 2018 at 1:21 pm

To your first point, no.

I find Google regularly overriding specific search terms, particularly when I put in a short phrase in quotes, which means Google is supposed to deliver results that match that exact phrase. First page, even the very first result, regularly violate the search criteria. Never happened before ~ 2 years ago.

Google in recent years has optimized for:

  1. Shopping
  2. Recency
  3. "Authoritativeness" of sites. The latter criterion, as interpreted by Google = MSM above all. Academic sites get downranked too.
David May , July 17, 2018 at 3:53 pm

So much truth here. Similar story with YouTube: even though Jimmy Dore Is my most watched YouTuber by a long shot, notifications for new vids NEVER, ever, ever appear in my notification thingy or at the top of the page. Never. Google engineers are braniac math scientists (as Jimmy Dore might say), so this is a feature, not a bug. This is deliberate suppression. Inverted totalitarianism.

Arizona Slim , July 17, 2018 at 3:55 pm

I've noticed the same thing. I have to go to Jimmy's channel in order to learn what's new.

ambrit , July 17, 2018 at 5:30 pm

Same here with my "Tinfoil Hatt" sites.

David Carl Grimes , July 17, 2018 at 10:48 pm

I can attest to the same thing. And when I type jimmy on the search box, I always get jimmy Fallon as the first option even though I constantly search for Jimmy Dore.

Jeff W , July 17, 2018 at 6:38 pm

YouTube, for whatever reason, splits the functionality into two parts: subscribing and notifications. If you "just" subscribe, you will not get a number badge indicating a notification at the top right of your YouTube page -- you have to click the "notifications bell" in order to get notifications.

On the YouTube Settings | Notifications page you can also choose to get email messages regarding notifications and choose some other options regarding notifications for YouTube activity. On that same page, if you click Manage all subscriptions (which is buried in the text under Channel subscriptions ), you can see all your subscriptions and which ones have the bell clicked or not.

If you click the hamburger (three bar) icon on the upper left, next to the YouTube logo, that toggles a pane where you can see your history, your subscriptions, your settings and some other things. Even if you haven't clicked the notifications bell, you can see, under Subscriptions , the number of not-yet-watched videos you have, listed by individual channel you've subscribed to. (That's how I generally know that there is a new Jimmy Dore video since I am subscribed to the channel but I don't have notifications turned on.)

All of this is such poorly implemented usability that I hesitate to call it deliberate anything but I won't discount it, either.

Jim Haygood , July 17, 2018 at 3:55 pm

As of September 28th, Alphabet (a/k/a Google), Facebook and Twitter will join an all-new Communications Services sector. Its core is the old Telecommunications Services sector, which has shrunk to but three companies in the S&P 500 (Verizon, AT&T and CenturyLink).

Also joining Communications Services will be media and cable companies -- a full roster of corporate villainy, as it were. The complete list of 22 constituents appears here:

http://www.sectorspdr.com/sectorspdr/sector/xlc/holdings

A Communications Services ETF is already trading in advance of the sector's official debut in September. Owing to the exit of seven current Information Technology stocks (including Alphabet, Facebook and Twitter, the targets of Lambert's ire) and 16 Consumer Discretionary stocks (including Comcast, Disney and Netflix), these sectors will change in composition on Sep 28th.

In this exclusive chart, the new post-Sep 28th sectors are backcast as if they all existed today:

https://ibb.co/n9C1KJ

Communications Services had been lagging the S&P 500 until last month, when government approval of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner set off a frenzy in other media stocks which might be bought or merged. With Alphabet and Facebook making up 44.3% of Communications Services by weight, these two giants will tend to dominate its performance.

s , July 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm

Narrow markets with volume, stock buy backs are so yesterday .

diptherio , July 17, 2018 at 4:01 pm

The future is federated. Individual instances, hosted by whoever wants to set one up, that can link to each other, for a fully customizable experience. I like Mastodon (a bird-site replacement), and my particular instance at social.coop, even though it doesn't have any of your writerly tools either. But it's open source, so the ability to add them is there:

https://mastodon.social/about

PeerTube also seems to be taking off, as a federated video sharing platform.

LDK , July 17, 2018 at 4:16 pm

Lambert, you can get back your Old Google News format (pre-AI change) by using this link instead as follows: https://news.google.com/news/feeds?output=rss&q=%
It doesn't take away Google's attempt at controlling our information flow with its new AI Gnews format But it should help you get your blue links & sections back ;) – with the caveat that you can't click on said headlines/sections' "see real time coverage" (in which case you go back to our Ministry of Information's AI approved interface). However you can expand on the little down arrow next to each headlines and click on the working links.

Kurt Sperry , July 17, 2018 at 10:39 pm

That's excellent, thank you. Noticeably decrapifies from the new default format.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:29 am

That's less insane, though all the other issues remain.

Funny to think all this crap is just larded on top of good ol' RSS. It's like one of Clive's banking systems

Fred , July 17, 2018 at 4:19 pm

If you are letting algorithms decide what you watch or read, you are basically giving up. At least use a search engine like Duck Duck Go and never read the news on FB or Twit.

False Solace , July 17, 2018 at 7:29 pm

Duck Duck Go has its own news section which I've used a few times, and it seemed to have way more links than Lambert's screenshot of Google News. Don't know what sites DDG includes but maybe it could be an alternative.

BoulderMike , July 17, 2018 at 7:45 pm

Sadly though I find the same problem with DuckDuckGo. Meaning, it returns the results it wants, rather than what I asked for. Even if I ask for results from the past week I get stuff from 8 years ago. And if I ask for something like Stereo Speakers I get things like "speakers at this years conference ..", etc. Just pure garbage. And the key complaint I have is that Amazon shows up every other result for page after page. If I search for "how to best fertilize tomatoes in Colorado", I get a result showing tomatoes available on Amazon.com. And at the top of every search is a "ribbon" of results from Amazon almost exclusively and with "Prime" in the results box. I hate Amazon and wish I could never see that word again, or the words Jeff Bezos. Sigh.

Richard , July 17, 2018 at 10:04 pm

I have the same issue with DDG. My understanding is that it is not different from Google in terms of search results, but simply that it won't surveil you:
Their ad campaign: "Same s*&$ results as Google, but no one will know you're looking!"

Hepativore , July 17, 2018 at 11:14 pm

What about Qwant? I do not like how it feels it has to open links and images in a separate tab automatically, and it takes forever to load images, but I have heard good things about the search engine.

Nlowhim , July 18, 2018 at 3:50 am

I've been using other methods like -siteihate.com or site:.edu to find papers etc on a topic. For geopolitics I try to find a human rights group nearby to see what they say. News is hard to sift through

Procopius , July 18, 2018 at 12:58 am

I don't do Twitter, thank you, but Facebook has News? Hoocoodanode? It's not something I would ever think of using, but one of my friends (who is always threatening to unfriend me) once ranted that she knew the Russians interfered with our election because she saw the bots and memes. When I asked her how she knew a bot she never answered. She's a solid Russiagate cult believer. I suspect she must get her news from FB.

FlashFlud , July 17, 2018 at 4:29 pm

I've noticed it's really, really tough now to find via Google any serious, longform blogs on investing, energy, etc. Almost everything that comes up when I search a topic is a listicle/clickbait, a Salon article, some horrible startup platform with only 10-50 active users, or something locked behind a paywall.

I always thought the best metaphor for this is the end of the "Old West" – all the territory is fenced off and none of the owners want you trespassing on their land. I actually do think the best internet tools were all de-centralized – "federated" as one of your commenters put it.

For instance, wasn't it great when you could make an RSS feed out of literally any series of sites and just click on what you find interesting? Granted, I still think that's possible but I don't see nearly as many websites pushing that compatibility anymore. Instead it's all SEO and racing to be "discoverable" by the big platforms. Information, writing, and the exchange of ideas have suffered as a result.

Dave , July 17, 2018 at 4:40 pm

I've been very happy since switching to Duck Duck Go. Occasionally I can't find something and think, "I'm going to actually go into google.com and see if it runs a better search" and it almost never does.

To me the more interesting point here is Lambert's second/third one, which is that, although both Twitter and Facebook decry the rise of fake news, their format is an especially hard one to write a nuanced critique in. It's difficult (if not impossible) to put a string of URLs in a Facebook post without actually putting the whole jumbled up 200-character strings of the URLs in – instead of just hotlinking a word! – and you can't format headings, sections, and subsections easily – so any discussion just basically devolves into "No, read this!" "Well, read this!" "What about this!", etc. And they don't always post comments chronologically, or in an order I can make sense of anyway, so you can't follow the ongoing discussion clearly anyway.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:30 am

> they don't always post comments chronologically, or in an order I can make sense of anyway

It's almost like they're trying to destroy any possibility of a decent discussion.

bob mcmanus , July 17, 2018 at 4:53 pm

Interestingly, as apparently the default, Firefox gives me a drop down list of "Latest News" headlines (? at least 50) which are I think entirely from the Guardian and BBC. Not great, too much human interest and soccer scores, and the articles are too often small or video, but god knows better than NYT and WaPo, and I can and do go on from there to the rest of the Guardian site. I don't know if that is configurable, if I could replace it with al-jazerra, Asia Times or RT

But I also have Jacobin Naked Capitalism and Counterpunch in quick buttons and I spend my time there. Should nuclear war start, I would want analysis before headlines. I am content with being a few days or week behind.

GERMO , July 17, 2018 at 5:09 pm

Gahd yes -- thanks for this post.

When Google News changed to whatever it is now I stopped using it entirely. It's not an aggregator in any sense at all, to me. I used to use Google as the home page and hit up the news page and felt like I had a newspaper to go with my morning coffee. It's ludicrous now. I just go directly to NC links and watercooler actually, and find my way around from there and from my local online paper. "Sad!"

JCC , July 17, 2018 at 11:48 pm

Google News has been slipping for a couple of years now, and has gotten exceptionally bad since it deployed the new layout. I now check it once or twice a week at the most and mainly just to read the headlines in order to find out what I'm supposed to believe.

The first site I open every morning is this site, read the articles of the titles that catch my interest (most) and then settle in with a cup of coffee or two and the Links Page.

The only serious problem I have with Naked Capitalism and its Links Section is that I'm often late for work as a direct result of opening the Links page (which reminds me, It's getting near my semi-annual donation :-)

Tinky , July 17, 2018 at 5:24 pm

This is a good opportunity for me to get something off of my chest, something that infuriates me.

I don't know what entity is responsible for designing the auto-correct function in (most, if not all) internet comment fields, but the result is shockingly bad.

First, it is fundamentally flawed. When the system offers a possible correction, it should allow the user to ignore the suggestion and continue typing. Instead, having implemented the tool completely backwards, it forces the user to close the suggestion, resulting in an obvious waste of time. The arrogance of assuming that the program is likely to be correct is compounded tremendously by the fact that – unbelievably – it does the exactly same thing for words that are capitalized!

I am dumfounded that anyone could be so stupid as to implement a program that attempts to correct proper names.

The fact that those involved in the initial design haven't yet discerned these obvious flaws, and there hasn't been widespread outrage over this issue, reflects very poorly on all involved.

ambrit , July 17, 2018 at 5:44 pm

I can attest that I usually run into spell check functions with abysmally poor vocabularies. (I just noticed that 'spell check' has connotations of Ye Darke Artes.) I have become inured to leaving those wavy red underlines in place when I 'post' a comment.
As for stupidity .

Tinky , July 17, 2018 at 5:54 pm

Yes, those which simply underline words in red are fine. It is the auto-correct versions to which I refer.

Amfortas the Hippie , July 17, 2018 at 7:04 pm

I knew something was up when every embedded(i guess) spellcheck i ran across couldn't spell Nietzsche and insisted that i always capitalise walmart(and cease using cambridge spelling immediately!).
i usually ignore the red squiggly, too
the worst was a samsung phone my wireless company gave me as an "upgrade". the text function had a "learning" spellcheck/autocorrect that you were supposed to just keep using so that it could eventually figure out what you were trying to say so at the beginning, every single word opened up a sort of square flower thing of unrelated(as a rule) words.
it was impossible I gather more so due to my habit of using archaic and obscure language and after you disabled it, it turned itself back on.
as a convenience.

Ur-Blintz , July 17, 2018 at 6:19 pm

d'accord!

but you have to admit that sometimes it's funny. today my phone kept correcting "detente" into "dead aunt".

Disturbed Vote , July 17, 2018 at 7:06 pm

It all goes back to Unix days, and DWIM. Do what I mean. According to the Hacker's Dictionary, the guy who invented DWIM has a permanent death sentence on assigned to him ;-)

http://www.hacker-dictionary.com/terms/DWIM

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:32 am

Nice to see the Hacker's Dictionary quoted. It's a wonderful resource, and a reminder that not all programmers suck (just the ones riding scooters to their regulatory arbitrage start-ups in Silicon Valley).

rfdawn , July 17, 2018 at 9:16 pm

Agree entirely. Alas, it is often not the "program" doing this. My ipad has a popup touchscreen keyboard (courtesy of iOS) that tries to enforce English spellings in every text-entry situation including non-English webpages. As Lambert says, hilarity ensues.

Gregorio , July 18, 2018 at 8:13 am

Spell check creates a whole new world of problems when one routinely types in more than one language.

barefoot charley , July 18, 2018 at 10:23 am

My smartypants phone has detected me reading Voltaire (copyright-free Kindle for sitting and waiting) and decided when I stammer texts to communicate with under-50s that I must be speaking French. So my word-salads are bi-lingual. But the youth of today don't think I'm erudite, they think I'm crazy. Dunno why, monolingual stammering isn't much better. But unless I get a Trump-style thumb job, I can't type on my telephone (which is as it should be, but I'm so old I remember when people answered their phones).

Mark Gisleson , July 17, 2018 at 5:43 pm

I did a C-list version of what Lambert does during that golden period of blogging he mentions. He doesn't really give enough shrift to the amount of time he spends reading each day, and it would be impossible to know how much effort goes into his interpretive remarks that all too often spare me the bother of reading establishment tripe.

This is the gold standard for aggregation blogging: ample links, clarifying remarks, snark. Reading this blog turned my old blog into a watered down version of this blog. I stole a lot from Lambert Strether because he does this better than anyone else. (Pro tip: don't steal from crappy writers)

I suspect Robot Wisdom as a prior influence, but now we're talking super old-timey stuff.

ambrit , July 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm

I detect the 'Cold Dead Hands' of Addison and Steele. Also somewhat an influence arising from the Spectre of an old dead Scot.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:35 am

[lambert blushes modestly].

Never read Robot Wisdom! I came in after that point. I first encountered the blogosphere when Paul Krugman mentioned Atrios in one of his columns and I went to look. And that was that. I was unemployed at the time, and spent most of my time reading blogs instead of looking for work

Richard , July 17, 2018 at 5:48 pm

Thanks for including labeled screen shots in your critique of FB, Goog, Twit. For those of us who don't use those sites, it really helped comprehension.
Great post. I guess there really are a million ways to discourage people from thinking clearly, including bs silicon valley editing tools.

Hayek's Heelbiter , July 17, 2018 at 5:50 pm

Amen! Amen! Amen!

I'm re-writing a historical romantic drama that i first completed in 1985, set mostly in Paris and Vienna in the 1870s. I did major rewrites in the 1990s for a major star, who soon got a contract to earn tens (or maybe hundreds of times) what a low-budget art house film would have paid and promptly walked the project. As soon as your star is gone, your project isn't one of the walking dead, it's totally graveyard dead.

The Internet was just coming into its own in the mid-1990s, and I have dozens of pages of incredibly useful research material I downloaded from the web.

Fast forward to 2018, and a studio is again interested in the project. But it wants the script rewritten from the female protagonist's viewpoint.

I again turned to the Internet to research the era.

Guess what?

No matter what set of keywords I use, no matter how I structure my Boolean searches, I get hundreds and hundreds of links to commercial sights, advertisements for Viennese and Parisian stores popping up left right and center.

Out of 100 links, maybe one has useful information.

Fortunately, not yet having had an intervention on an episode of HOARDERS, I managed to locate in a mislabeled several thousand pages I photocopied from out-of-print books on the subject.

God bless the Brooklyn Public Library and their hard-working Reference Desk librarians. There's a special place in Heaven for them.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:36 am

Amazing!

Synoia , July 17, 2018 at 6:24 pm

The engineers who butchered Twitter and Facebook's edit tools probably thought that way.

Engineers do what management tells them to do.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:37 am

But their worldview already inclined them in the direction management wished them to go. (And sometimes management doesn't even know what it wants anyhow.)

lakecabs , July 17, 2018 at 6:25 pm

I noticed when I looked up Elon Musk Mars trip. I went through page after page of links to how great it was that he launched a car into outer space with no reference that he actually missed Mars.

Then again on this submarine fiasco.

none , July 17, 2018 at 7:25 pm

I look at https://lite.cnn.io/en if I want a quick scan of headlines (CNN only of course). https://text.npr.org/ is sort of similar but from NPR.

Milton , July 17, 2018 at 7:44 pm

I do things the old-fashioned way by compiling feeds from a list of 15, or so, sites into a js reader on my website. I don't use Google at all and have no use for any corporate website. What I will do, however, is browse the yahoo news stream just so I can get a feel of the day's mood but I never follow a link. The only site that I visit not via my news reader is NC.

Steve , July 17, 2018 at 9:18 pm

After Google messed up, I tried several possibles and ended up with Memeorandum.

JCC , July 17, 2018 at 11:36 pm

Never heard of that one before now. I just checked it out all the news promoting Cold War 2.0 right at your fingertips at least that's the way it looks tonight.

MsExPat , July 17, 2018 at 9:32 pm

I'm deep in the pit of learning about SEO optimization, and I can tell you that Google's search algorithms–together with Google AdWords–are to blame for the lousy quality of Google searches these days.

Google gives priority to websites based on:
t1) site speed (which means that unless you pay extra $$$ for superior hosting and upgraded cloud services, your site will drop in the rankings. And hey, guess who owns one of the fastest worldwide cloud hosting services? Google.)
2) Rules that force you to write "stupid" (or at least with zero flair and style) in order to get your website onto the first page of a search. The keyword has to be right up top, the header and meta-text have to be written just so, and within a character limit. You can't be arch or subtle or creative. Break a rule and you get no mercy from Google's ranking algorithm. You're just buried in the back.
3) Speaking of back, Google prioritizes sites and pages for backlinks, that is, for other sites that link back to your website or article. While that may seem to be a way of pushing quality websites to the top of a search, in actual practice this backlink thing is a game. My site has backlinks from the New York Times, CNN, National Geographic, Conde Nast Traveler, and a host of other very authoritative high quality sites. However my competitor has a greater NUMBER of backlinks from more domains, and that counts for more, even though the links are from unknown travel bloggers.
4) Finally, the biggest drag on Google Search is the ads, which can take up the first half of the page before you get to a "real" search result.

It occurred to me the other day that scrapping or saving Net Neutrality may not really matter all that much. Google is so powerful that effectively they function like a commerce gateway, keeping out small businesses and websites that can't afford to hire the expensive software engineers and experts that you need nowadays to tweak and craft your site's backend so that it will show up in a Google search. Not to mention the added cost of fast hosting servers.

And the time suck of having to become familiar with all this stuff just so I can stay alive as a business!

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:39 am

> And the time suck of having to become familiar with all this stuff just so I can stay alive as a business!

It's almost like the relations of production are holding back the forces of production

NJroute22 , July 18, 2018 at 12:46 am

For real – it's gone down the crapper almost entirely.

One blog we started in 2005 was a gold mine for five to eight years. Then the revenue tumbled – for no logical reason to us. We were dissed. Maybe we didn't change the keywords or whatever to "keep up with the times," but good original content that wasn't pop culture or groupthink was shunned.

Fast forward to 2018, as we try to start up another new blog (this time promoting on the top four major "social media" sites), it's been tough going.

It seems that people don't want to find interesting, common sense oriented, critical thinking based content anymore.

If you're not talking about some utterly useless celebrity or bone-headed politician or dreadful sad story – no one cares to exercise those wonderful abilities they have to contemplate and reflect anymore. Deep thinkers are a dying breed.

Even searching for simple things on Google has gotten horrific.

I'm with others here. RSS reader (we use InoReader – awesome). When you stumble on a quality site – instantly subscribe. Your own curated "timeline" or "newsfeed."

Read all the articles on those sites you subscribe to, because they often link to other quality sites you can add to your museum of good publications.

Even if they're not exactly your ball of wax – keep them anyway. Not every post has to be up your alley.

The independent publisher with unique thoughts is an endangered species. Not because we're dying off – but because they're trying to kill us off via financial starvation.

There has to be a change of the tide eventually. Hopefully before it's too late.

Crosley Bendix , July 17, 2018 at 9:59 pm

I would appreciate hearing how you use Twitter in a way that is productive for you.

Lambert Strether Post author , July 18, 2018 at 12:41 am

My Twitter feed is extremely carefully curated. I do not subscribe directly to the usual sources (like CNN, etc.)

So I hear about a story only when someone I trust brings it to my attention, not when they do.

In addition I have a large number of quirky people with a wide skillset.

I originally joined Twitter to follow Black Lives Matter. It was invaluable, and not only because I got news and images I could get nowhere else, but because Black Twitter is really neat.

The Rev Kev , July 17, 2018 at 10:13 pm

And this is what happens when we let billionaires control what we see and do on the net. I have been a newshound for years and use to go through Google News and then a few favoured sites. These days I have reversed it around as Google News has become so crappified, so stripped of content and so cumbersome to use that I have switched it around.
As for Facebook and Twitter – not on your nelly though I know lots of people have to use it for professional reasons or for staying in contact with groups that do not have a presence elsewhere. The past several years I have found that I visit a lot of Russian sites as I tend to find more news of interest there which five years ago I would have found weird. The times they are a changin'.
Want to know what the future will be like. Take a look at the following clip from the film "Rollerball" – the first one – and you will see. The main character goes to visit the world computer for information as all of it is stored there. Upon arrival he finds that the computer has "lost" all the information on the 13th century in talking to the lead scientist. Here is that clip of our future-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmTWhvWgST0

polecat , July 17, 2018 at 10:36 pm

Haven't EVER used twits or bloodfunnelbook, and quit bevil when I saw the devil's pitchfork get way too lucky !

Procopius , July 18, 2018 at 12:44 am

I hate the "editor" in Facebook, too, but because there's no way to format anything. That big type you call their default? That goes away when you type three lines or so. It's only been there a couple of years and I don't know what they were thinking of when they added it. Why can't I choose my type size? Why can't I make text bold or italic? NC at least has those options. Other blogs let me enter most HTML formatting tags. Those "disruptive" engineers must be pretty weird people. Why would I want my post to be in HUGE type if I'm only posting one or two lines?

Thing I wanted to ask, how do you make google search time periods. Is that something they've added? A few years ago, after many people entered "I have the same question" they admitted they had no way to do so. Is it something you have to use advanced search for? Because I think I remember seeing something there, but I haven't used it for many years.

hunkerdown , July 18, 2018 at 1:21 am

That feature can be found under Tools → Any time, in the toolbar on the results page under the search query.

JBird , July 18, 2018 at 2:35 am

I just checked Google. I could be missing it. What I do see is simpler, less precise, and not as useful as the previous time period search. I use to use to be to chop off precisely the exact dates I wanted searched. For example any articles, websites, or just news on the Humbolt Squid from 1/1/1984 to 1/2/1986.

If I missed that option please tell me as it was useful.

JBird , July 18, 2018 at 2:14 am

Procopius,
Yes, your memory is fine as Google did make it fairly easy to search periods of time and to use Boolean search terms. Brief tutorials and instructions easy to find. Googleborg has been getting less useful for using the interwebs but it is easier to find stuff to buy. Strange is it not?

Lambert,
When I think about the crapification of Google et al I also think about the siloing of economics, political science, history and other fields, which are stripped of anything considered extraneous, and reduced to dry misinformative stats, formulae, and over simplied stories. Going from the broad interconnected field of anthropology to what is misleading labeled "economics" is like going from a real forest full of life to a museum diorama consisting of some ratty stuff animals, plastic plants, and some awfully painted background and being told both are comparable.

I think what used to be political economics, but now just economics, was still not broad enough but the current field of economics had everything not describing and validating neoliberal capitalist free market economics removed. Adam Smith's own complete writings would get him labeled a socialist. I cannot think that the deliberate, and it was deliberate, to simplify away all inconvenient facts, ideas, and theories from what is laughing called economics so that only a few pre-approved answers to the approved narrative is like Google, Twitter, and Facebook's near uselessness.

Dave , July 18, 2018 at 9:45 am

I was actually working with FB (as a vendor) when they implemented that big-type "feature". They were concerned that it was becoming almost mandatory to include a picture with your posts – essentially every ad on the site has a picture, links to articles and most any URLs automatically include a picture, and users were including more and more pictures themselves as most people switched their Facebook time to smartphones. As a result, if you posted a short, tweet-length text only message, it was easy to miss. So they inflated the font size to make short messages take up a similar amount of space as longer ones or ones with pictures.

It's not my preference at all, stylistically (especially with those hideous colored backgrounds) but, well A/B testing told them it resulted in increased eyeballs on those short posts.

Tomi , July 18, 2018 at 2:54 am

Facebook demanding you to enable cookies is not only for the advertisers, but it's required by the server so that it can do some essential things that are required to deliver an interactive web page. For example when you try to post a message on Facebook your browser will send a request to Facebook server. That request must be accompanied by the cookie so that server knows that the request came from you and not from someone else.

If you don't want cookies tracking you, you can still enable them, but you can delete all cookies before you close your browser. Many browsers will allow you to automatically delete cookies when you close the browser.

Temporarily Sane , July 18, 2018 at 3:07 am

Have you tried Feedly ? Until 2013 it was owned by Google (where it was known as Google Reader) but it was actually a decent piece of software so of course they had to get rid of it. IMNSHO it leaves the competition in the dust and is still, by far, the best news aggregator available.

NJroute22 , July 18, 2018 at 3:30 am

I tried Feedly in the past – didn't rub me the right way. As I said in a previous comment – InoReader works for us perfectly.

Why Google got rid of their Reader is a good sign they are evil.

Skip Intro , July 18, 2018 at 5:57 am

I am officially adopting the policy of understanding the word "check" in "fact check", to have the same meaning as when it is used in the context of ice hockey, i.e. "Isikoff checked the facts for his new book so hard, they were carried off unconscious, and remain in a coma"

barefoot charley , July 18, 2018 at 10:44 am

+1
It's a lol!

SubjectivObject , July 18, 2018 at 8:14 am

for me, anyway
"What horrible virus has rotted the brain matter of the Google engineers who created this monstrosity?"

all such anomalous characteristics are intentioned features

William Hunter Duncan , July 18, 2018 at 9:15 am

I blogged on blogger for 5 years, after which I had maybe 200 hits a day, most of which were bots. Unless you googled my full name, the blog would never be listed.

Facebook was never meant to be anything but a ghetto, to put people in pens to make a few people rich rich rich.

Twitter was always about making people twits. See: Trump, Hillary-bots, the sports/movie/tv complex .

These days I write long poems by hand, lol.

ObjectiveFunction , July 18, 2018 at 9:15 am

Great piece, it reminds me of Edward Tufte's classic "The Cognitive Style of PowerPoint".

Of course, in spite of ET's popularity as a corporate tent revivalist, packing hotel ballrooms at $250 a seat, there's been no interruption in the steady dumbing down of communication, both written and graphic.

Scott1 , July 18, 2018 at 2:02 pm

Damnit. My comment disappeared.
I ended it asking if Naked Capitalism would become financially secure were it to own its own Servers that operated for profit regardless of content supported?
IT professionals Serve the Servers.
Drug dealers don't have to advertise.
Servers don't have to advertise, is what I thought.
I read the article. I read the comments. An idea appears above my eyes
between my eyebrows. 'Am I right or am I wrong?'
I love Naked Capitalism. Thanks

[Jun 28, 2018] Technology giants hold censorship meeting with US intelligence agencies by Will Morrow

Notable quotes:
"... Washington Post ..."
Jun 27, 2018 | www.wsws.org

The New York Times and Washington Post this week published reports of a private meeting last month between eight major technology and social media corporations and the US intelligence agencies, to discuss their censorship operations in the lead-up to the November 2018 mid-term elections.

The meeting was convened at Facebook's Menlo Park, California, headquarters on May 23, and was attended by representatives from Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Snap, Twitter and Oath, owner of Yahoo! and a subsidiary of the telecommunications giant Verizon, along with agents from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security.

The Post described the meeting, organized at the request of Facebook, as a "new overture by the technology industry to develop closer ties to law enforcement." Both articles were based on anonymous statements by individuals who attended. One attendee told the Post that the conversation was a "back-and-forth, with both sides talking about how they were thinking about the problem and how we were looking for opportunities to work together."

The meeting is yet another testament to the increasing integration of the technology giants with the US military/intelligence apparatus. These companies, which provide a growing share of the technical infrastructure for the repressive apparatus of the state, increasingly see the censorship of left-wing, anti-war, and progressive viewpoints as an integral part of their business strategy.

... ... ...

[Jun 28, 2018] Did Senator Warner and Comey 'Collude' on Russia-gate by Ray McGovern

Notable quotes:
"... The U.S. was in talks for a deal with Julian Assange but then FBI Director James Comey ordered an end to negotiations after Assange offered to prove Russia was not involved in the DNC leak, as Ray McGovern explains. ..."
"... Special to Consortium News ..."
"... The report does not say what led Comey to intervene to ruin the talks with Assange. But it came after Assange had offered to "provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases," Solomon quotes WikiLeaks' intermediary with the government as saying. It would be a safe assumption that Assange was offering to prove that Russia was not WikiLeaks' source of the DNC emails. ..."
"... If that was the reason Comey and Warner ruined the talks, as is likely, it would reveal a cynical decision to put U.S. intelligence agents and highly sophisticated cybertools at risk, rather than allow Assange to at least attempt to prove that Russia was not behind the DNC leak. ..."
"... On March 31, 2017, though, WikiLeaks released the most damaging disclosure up to that point from what it called "Vault 7" -- a treasure trove of CIA cybertools leaked from CIA files. This disclosure featured the tool "Marble Framework," which enabled the CIA to hack into computers, disguise who hacked in, and falsely attribute the hack to someone else by leaving so-called tell-tale signs -- like Cyrillic, for example. The CIA documents also showed that the "Marble" tool had been employed in 2016. ..."
"... In fact, VIPS and independent forensic investigators, have performed what former FBI Director Comey -- at first inexplicably, now not so inexplicably -- failed to do when the so-called "Russian hack" of the DNC was first reported. In July 2017 VIPS published its key findings with supporting data. ..."
"... Why did then FBI Director Comey fail to insist on getting direct access to the DNC computers in order to follow best-practice forensics to discover who intruded into the DNC computers? (Recall, at the time Sen. John McCain and others were calling the "Russian hack" no less than an "act of war.") A 7th grader can now figure that out. ..."
Jun 27, 2018 | consortiumnews.com

Did Sen. Warner and Comey 'Collude' on Russia-gate? June 27, 2018 • 68 Comments

The U.S. was in talks for a deal with Julian Assange but then FBI Director James Comey ordered an end to negotiations after Assange offered to prove Russia was not involved in the DNC leak, as Ray McGovern explains.

By Ray McGovern
Special to Consortium News

An explosive report by investigative journalist John Solomon on the opinion page of Monday's edition of The Hill sheds a bright light on how Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) and then-FBI Director James Comey collaborated to prevent WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange from discussing "technical evidence ruling out certain parties [read Russia]" in the controversial leak of Democratic Party emails to WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.

A deal that was being discussed last year between Assange and U.S. government officials would have given Assange "limited immunity" to allow him to leave the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been exiled for six years. In exchange, Assange would agree to limit through redactions "some classified CIA information he might release in the future," according to Solomon, who cited "interviews and a trove of internal DOJ documents turned over to Senate investigators." Solomon even provided a copy of the draft immunity deal with Assange.

But Comey's intervention to stop the negotiations with Assange ultimately ruined the deal, Solomon says, quoting "multiple sources." With the prospective agreement thrown into serious doubt, Assange "unleashed a series of leaks that U.S. officials say damaged their cyber warfare capabilities for a long time to come." These were the Vault 7 releases, which led then CIA Director Mike Pompeo to call WikiLeaks "a hostile intelligence service."

Solomon's report provides reasons why Official Washington has now put so much pressure on Ecuador to keep Assange incommunicado in its embassy in London.

Assange: Came close to a deal with the U.S. (Photo credit: New Media Days / Peter Erichsen)

The report does not say what led Comey to intervene to ruin the talks with Assange. But it came after Assange had offered to "provide technical evidence and discussion regarding who did not engage in the DNC releases," Solomon quotes WikiLeaks' intermediary with the government as saying. It would be a safe assumption that Assange was offering to prove that Russia was not WikiLeaks' source of the DNC emails.

If that was the reason Comey and Warner ruined the talks, as is likely, it would reveal a cynical decision to put U.S. intelligence agents and highly sophisticated cybertools at risk, rather than allow Assange to at least attempt to prove that Russia was not behind the DNC leak.

The greater risk to Warner and Comey apparently would have been if Assange provided evidence that Russia played no role in the 2016 leaks of DNC documents.

Missteps and Stand Down

In mid-February 2017, in a remarkable display of naiveté, Adam Waldman, Assange's pro bono attorney who acted as the intermediary in the talks, asked Warner if the Senate Intelligence Committee staff would like any contact with Assange to ask about Russia or other issues. Waldman was apparently oblivious to Sen. Warner's stoking of Russia-gate.

Warner contacted Comey and, invoking his name, instructed Waldman to "stand down and end the discussions with Assange," Waldman told Solomon. The "stand down" instruction "did happen," according to another of Solomon's sources with good access to Warner. However, Waldman's counterpart attorney David Laufman , an accomplished federal prosecutor picked by the Justice Departent to work the government side of the CIA-Assange fledgling deal, told Waldman, "That's B.S. You're not standing down, and neither am I."

But the damage had been done. When word of the original stand-down order reached WikiLeaks, trust evaporated, putting an end to two months of what Waldman called "constructive, principled discussions that included the Department of Justice."

The two sides had come within inches of sealing the deal. Writing to Laufman on March 28, 2017, Waldman gave him Assange's offer to discuss "risk mitigation approaches relating to CIA documents in WikiLeaks' possession or control, such as the redaction of Agency personnel in hostile jurisdictions," in return for "an acceptable immunity and safe passage agreement."

On March 31, 2017, though, WikiLeaks released the most damaging disclosure up to that point from what it called "Vault 7" -- a treasure trove of CIA cybertools leaked from CIA files. This disclosure featured the tool "Marble Framework," which enabled the CIA to hack into computers, disguise who hacked in, and falsely attribute the hack to someone else by leaving so-called tell-tale signs -- like Cyrillic, for example. The CIA documents also showed that the "Marble" tool had been employed in 2016.

Misfeasance or Malfeasance

Comey: Ordered an end to talks with Assange.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, which includes among our members two former Technical Directors of the National Security Agency, has repeatedly called attention to its conclusion that the DNC emails were leaked -- not "hacked" by Russia or anyone else (and, later, our suspicion that someone may have been playing Marbles, so to speak).

In fact, VIPS and independent forensic investigators, have performed what former FBI Director Comey -- at first inexplicably, now not so inexplicably -- failed to do when the so-called "Russian hack" of the DNC was first reported. In July 2017 VIPS published its key findings with supporting data.

Two month later , VIPS published the results of follow-up experiments conducted to test the conclusions reached in July.

Why did then FBI Director Comey fail to insist on getting direct access to the DNC computers in order to follow best-practice forensics to discover who intruded into the DNC computers? (Recall, at the time Sen. John McCain and others were calling the "Russian hack" no less than an "act of war.") A 7th grader can now figure that out.

Asked on January 10, 2017 by Senate Intelligence Committee chair Richard Burr (R-NC) whether direct access to the servers and devices would have helped the FBI in their investigation, Comey replied : "Our forensics folks would always prefer to get access to the original device or server that's involved, so it's the best evidence."

At that point, Burr and Warner let Comey down easy. Hence, it should come as no surprise that, according to one of John Solomon's sources, Sen. Warner (who is co-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) kept Sen. Burr apprised of his intervention into the negotiation with Assange, leading to its collapse.

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He was an Army Infantry/Intelligence officer and then a CIA analyst for a total of 30 years and prepared and briefed, one-on-one, the President's Daily Brief from 1981 to 1985.

If you enjoyed this original article please consider making a donation to Consortium News so we can bring you more stories like this one.

[Jun 24, 2018] annamaria

Jun 24, 2018 | www.unz.com

says: May 21, 2017 at 2:30 am GMT 200 Words While the "progressives" badmouth bad-bad russkies for "destroying our democracy," an obscene spectacle of persecution of the most important whistleblower of our times continues.
"Getting Assange: the Untold Story," by JOHN PILGER

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/19/getting-assange-the-untold-story/

"Hillary Clinton, the destroyer of Libya and, as WikiLeaks revealed last year, the secret supporter and personal beneficiary of forces underwriting ISIS, proposed, "Can't we just drone this guy." According to Australian diplomatic cables, Washington's bid to get Assange is "unprecedented in scale and nature." In Alexandria, Virginia, a secret grand jury has sought for almost seven years to contrive a crime for which Assange can be prosecuted. Assange's ability to defend himself in such a Kafkaesque world has been severely limited by the US declaring his case a state secret. In 2015, a federal court in Washington blocked the release of all information about the "national security" investigation against WikiLeaks, because it was "active and ongoing" and would harm the "pending prosecution" of Assange. The judge, Barbara J. Rothstein, said it was necessary to show "appropriate deference to the executive in matters of national security." This is a kangaroo court."

[Jun 23, 2018] Sic Semper Tyrannis Laura Bush and Michael Hayden, No Fixing Stupid by Publius Tacitus

Jun 23, 2018 | turcopolier.typepad.com

[Jun 01, 2018] Google Abandons Pentagon's AI-Drone 'Project Maven' After Employee Revolt Zero Hedge

Jun 01, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Just two weeks after around a dozen Google employees quit and close to 4,000 signed a petition over the company's involvement in a controversial military pilot program known as "Project Maven" - which will use artificial intelligence to speed up analysis of drone footage - Buzzfeed reports that Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene told employees during an internal meeting that the tech company was "not following through" on Maven .

As a reminder, Project Maven was to use machine learning to identify vehicles and other objects from drone footage - with the ultimate goal of enabling the automated detection and identification of objects in up to 38 categories - including the ability to track individuals as they come and go from different locations.

Project Maven's objective, according to Air Force Lt. Gen. John N.T. "Jack" Shanahan, director for Defense Intelligence for Warfighter Support in the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence, " is to turn the enormous volume of data available to DoD into actionable intelligence and insights. " - DoD


greenskeeper carl -> vato poco Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:50 Permalink

Well, good for those employees. An computer program figuring out targets to kill? No thanks, I've seen that movie before, several of them.

This does make sense from the pentagon's point of view, though. Drone pilots constantly burning out and having substance abuse problems because of the things they do from the air is bad for business. Just put a computer program in charge, solves that problem. Plus, you don't have to worry about the computer program talking to the media or giving remorseful interviews about the kids they've killed, etc.

toady -> greenskeeper carl Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:50 Permalink

Remember "don't be evil"?

Neither do they.

Rapunzal -> toady Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:57 Permalink

Just a joke, they never quit. It's just a whitewash by the MSM. So we can believe in an honest system.

ClickNLook -> ACP Fri, 06/01/2018 - 19:43 Permalink

How exactly have they "revolted"?

Did they throw their custom coffee drinks on the floor, talked in squeaky voices to each other, raised their hands in anger, made some incoherent threats toward management in their private conversations, scotched a few more Dilbert cartoons on the outer walls of their cubicles? This kind of revolt?

beemasters -> greenskeeper carl Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:50 Permalink

Google employees rock.
I doubt the management will risk it by doing it secretly. But the military might find ways to reverse engineer whatever Google produces. If they get caught and have to pay damages...hey, it's taxpayers' money anyway they use against the people/humanity. They don't care.

ScratInTheHat -> beemasters Fri, 06/01/2018 - 18:53 Permalink

Or Google hires third party to finish the project and doesn't tell their open employees what they are working on.

dietrolldietroll Fri, 06/01/2018 - 22:06 Permalink

Correction: Google just created a secret project. Govt money doesn't take "no" for an answer.

[May 29, 2018] Amazon's Relentless Pursuit of Largesse The American Conservative

Notable quotes:
"... Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi . ..."
May 29, 2018 | www.theamericanconservative.com

Powerful is the man who, with a short series of tweets, can single-handedly send the bluest of the blue-chip stocks into a headlong tumble. For better or for worse, the current occupant of the Oval Office is one such man, tapping into his power with the following missive that crossed the Twitter transom on the morning of March 29:

I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

Over the next few trading days, with four subsequent tweets peppered in, Amazon's stock dropped by more than $75 a share, losing a market value of nearly $40 billion. Card carrying-members of the Resistance and Never Trump brigade quickly portrayed the president's scorn as the latest evidence of his "soft totalitarianism" and general disdain for the First Amendment and the free press. They noted that Amazon's CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, owns the Washington Post -- a leading "perpetrator" of what Trump has called the "opposition party" and "fake news."

Concerns of politically motivated impropriety are not without merit. Trump has repeatedly proven himself unworthy of the benefit of the doubt. As presidential candidate and commander in chief, he has demonstrated an eagerness to use his Twitter account as a bully pulpit in his petty brawls with lawmakers, media personalities, and anyone else who might draw his ire.

And yet, ulterior motives though there may be, knee-jerk dismissals of the president's attack are short-sighted. The president's bluster in this instance is rooted in reality.

Indeed, contra the libertarian ethos that Amazon and its leader purport to embody, the company has not emerged as one of history's preeminent corporate juggernauts through thrift and elbow grease alone. Although the company's harshest critics must concede that Amazon is the world's most consistently competent corporation -- replete with innovation and ingenuity -- the company's unprecedented growth would not be possible without two key ingredients: corporate welfare and tax avoidance.

Amazon has long benefitted from the procurement of taxpayer-funded subsidies, emerging in recent years as the leading recipient of corporate welfare. According to Good Jobs First, a Washington, D.C., organization dedicated to corporate and government accountability, Amazon has, since 2000, received more than $1.39 billion in state and local tax breaks and subsidies for construction of its vast network of warehouses and data centers.

These private-public "partnership" deals are perhaps best illustrated by the sweepstakes for Amazon's second headquarters. Touted as the economic development opportunity of the century, the chosen destination will reap the benefits of 50,000 "high-paying" jobs and $5 billion in construction spending. The possibility of securing an economic development package of this magnitude elicited proposals from 238 North American cities and regions, fomenting what some have called a "bidding war" between mayors, governors, and county executives desperate for economic invigoration.

After a first round deadline of October 19, the pool of applicants was, in mid-January, whittled down to a list of 20. As expected, each finalist offered incentive packages worth more than a billion dollars, with Montgomery County, Maryland, ($8.5 billion) and Newark, New Jersey, ($7 billion) offering the most eye-popping bundles. Proposals utilized a wide array of state and local economic development programs: property tax discounts, infrastructure subsidies, and, in the case of Chicago's proposal, an incentive known as a "personal income-tax diversion." Worth up to $1.32 billion, Amazon employees would still pay their income taxes in full -- but instead of Illinois receiving the money, the tax payments would be funneled directly into the pockets of Amazon itself.

While critics condemn the ostentatious bids of Maryland and New Jersey and decry the "creative" gimmicks of cities such as Chicago, they are equally worried about the details -- or lack thereof -- of the proposals from the other finalists. Despite demands for transparency from local community leaders and journalists, only a handful of cities have released the details of their bids in full, while six finalists -- Indianapolis, Dallas, Northern Virginia, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, and Raleigh, North Carolina -- have refused to release any of the details from their first-round bids. Viewing themselves as players in a zero-sum game of high-stakes poker, they claim that there is little to gain, but a lot to lose, in making their proposals public.

Such secrecy has, in the second round of bidding, become the rule more than the exception. Although he owns a newspaper with the slogan "Democracy Dies in Darkness," Bezos has required state and local officials involved in negotiations to sign non-disclosure agreements. With the opportunity to revisit and revise their bids (i.e., increase their dollar value), the transition from public spectacle to backroom dealing introduces yet another cause for concern. If the finalists don't apprise citizens of their bids' details, the citizens can't weigh the costs and benefits and determine whether inviting the company into their midst will be a net positive or net negative.

Amazon's pursuit of public tithes and offerings is matched by its relentless obsession with avoiding taxes. Employing a legion of accountants and lawyers, the company has become a master at navigating the tax code and exploiting every loophole. Illegality is not the issue here but rather a tax system that allows mammoth corporations to operate with huge tax advantages not available to mom-and-pop shops on Main Street.

Of course Amazon isn't unique in its desire to avoid the taxman. It is, however, unrivaled in its ability to do so. Last fall's debate concerning the merits of lowering the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent was, for Amazon, a moot point. In the five years from 2012 to 2016, Amazon paid an effective federal income tax rate of only 11.4 percent.

The company fared even better in 2017. Despite posting a $5.6 billion profit, Amazon didn't pay a single cent in federal taxes, according to a recent report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. What's more, Amazon projects it will receive an additional $789 million in kickbacks from last year's tax reform bill.

Even by the standards of mammoth corporations, this is impressive. By way of comparison, Walmart -- no stranger to corporate welfare and tax avoidance -- has paid $64 billion in corporate income tax since 2008. Amazon? Just $1.4 billion.

Amazon's tax-avoidance success can be attributed to two things: avoiding the collection of sales taxes and stashing profits in overseas tax havens. The IRS estimates that Amazon has dodged more than $1.5 billion in taxes by funneling the patents of its intellectual property behind the walls of its European headquarters city, Luxembourg -- a widely used corporate tax haven. Again, nothing illegal here, but there's something wrong with a tax system that allows it.

From day one, Amazon's business model involved legally avoiding any obligation to collect sales taxes, and then using the subsequent pricing advantage to gain market share. It did this by first locating its warehouses in very few states, most of which did not have a sales tax. It then shipped its goods to customers that resided in other states that did have sales tax. This game plan allowed Amazon to avoid what is known as "nexus" in sales-tax states, meaning that those states could not compel it to collect the tax -- a two to 10 percent competitive advantage over its brick-and-mortar counterparts.

Amazon exploited this tax advantage for years until state legislatures -- realizing how much revenue they were losing -- gradually began passing legislation requiring Internet retailers to collect sales taxes for items purchased by their citizens. In 2012, having already benefited from this competitive advantage for more than a decade and a half, Bezos -- under the pretense of a "level playing field" -- began advocating for federal legislation that would require Internet retailers to collect sales tax. No such legislation has been passed.

And despite Bezos's carefully calculated public relations posturing, Amazon's advantage over brick-and-mortar retailers persists: not only does Amazon not collect city and county sales taxes (where applicable) but it also doesn't, with few exceptions, collect sales tax on items sold by third-party distributors on Amazon Marketplace -- sales that account for more than half of Amazon's sales.

It is difficult to overstate how instrumental tax breaks and tax avoidance have been in Amazon's unprecedented growth. As Bezos made clear in his first letter to shareholders in 1997, Amazon's business plan is predicated on amassing long-term market share in lieu of short-term profits. As a result, the company operates on razor-thin margins in some retail categories, while actually taking losses in others.

Amazon has not squandered these competitive advantages. Half of online retail purchases are made through Amazon, and more than half of American households are enrolled in the Amazon Prime program -- a subscription service that engenders platform loyalty and leads to increases in consumer spending.

In fact, Amazon's ascent and tactics have led an increasing number of public policy experts to call for a renewed enforcement of America's antitrust laws. The concern is that Amazon has used its market power to crush smaller competitors with a swath of anti-competitive practices, including predatory pricing and market power advantages stemming from Amazon Marketplace -- Amazon's vast sales platform for third-party retailers.

Such practices may be a boon for consumers and Amazon stockholders, the reasoning goes, but they are only possible because Amazon uses economic power to squeeze its retail partners on pricing at various points in the production line, which harms the health of many other businesses. In fact, some suggest this bullying tendency calls to mind the actions of John D. Rockefeller in his dealings with railroad companies at the turn of the last century.

These monopolistic practices have squeezed local, state, and federal revenue streams in two ways. Not only do these governments forego the collection of needed tax revenue but Amazon's rise has also knocked out many brick-and-mortar competitors that previously had provided streams of tax revenue. By wooing Amazon with taxpayer-funded subsidies and other giveaways, government leaders are, in a very real sense, funding the destruction of their own tax base. There is little evidence that such taxpayer-funded inducements have resulted in a net positive to the states and localities doling out the subsidies.

By forsaking the tenets of free market orthodoxy, forgoing the collection of much-needed tax revenue, and giving big businesses major competitive advantages, state and local governments have generated increasing controversy and political enmity from both ends of the political spectrum. And yet, though bipartisan accusations of crony capitalism and corporate welfare abound, such opposition does little to dissuade state and local governments from loosening the public purse strings in their efforts to woo big corporations such as Amazon.

Daniel Kishi is associate editor of The American Conservative. Follow him on Twitter: @DanielMKishi .

[May 23, 2018] Facebook partners with hawkish Atlantic Council, a NATO lobby group, to "protect Demo

May 23, 2018 | failedevolution.blogspot.gr

Facebook is hoping that a new alliance with the Atlantic Council -- a leading geopolitical strategy think-tank seen as a de facto PR agency for the U.S. government and NATO military alliance – will not only solve its "fake news" and "disinformation" controversy, but will also help the social media monolith play "a positive role" in ensuring democracy on a global level.
The new partnership will effectively ensure that Atlantic Council will serve as Facebook's "eyes and ears," according to a company press statement. With its leadership comprised of retired military officers, former policymakers, and top figures from the U.S. National Security State and Western business elites, the Atlantic Council's role policing the social network should be viewed as a virtual takeover of Facebook by the imperialist state and the council's extensive list of ultra-wealthy and corporate donors.
The partnership is only the latest in a steady stream of announced plans by the Menlo Park, California-based company to address controversy surrounding its role in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. The company has been mired in scandal stemming from the allegations of "election interference" carried out through the social network – usually pinned on the Russian government and ranging from the use of independent media to the theft of Facebook user data by political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica.
The announcement should sound alarm bells when one considers the Atlantic Council's list of sponsors – including, but not limited to, war-profiteering defense contractors; agencies aligned with Washington and the Pentagon; Gulf Arab tyrants; major transnational corporations; and such well-loved Western philanthropic brands as Carnegie, Koch, Rockefeller, and Soros. Even the name of the group itself is meant to evoke the North Atlantic Council, the highest political decision-making body of North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Full report:
https://www.mintpressnews.com/facebook-partners-hawkish-atlantic-council-nato-lobby-group-protect-democracy/242289/

[Apr 11, 2018] Another step closer to the totalitarian state

Apr 11, 2018 | www.unz.com

Bill Jones , April 10, 2018 at 9:57 pm GMT

Another step closer to the totalitarian state

https://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/homeland-security-to-compile-database-of-journalists-and-media-influencers/

The Department of Homeland Security wants to track the comings and goings of journalists, bloggers and other "media influencers" through a database.

[Apr 02, 2018] Should I Buy A 'Smart' Phone

Apr 02, 2018 | www.moonofalabama.org

The obvious question came up: Should I buy a smartphone to replace my trusted Ericsson?

I tested several of the current top-of-the-line smartphones - Motorola, Samsung, Apple. They were in the same relative price range as my old Ericsson was at its time. But they lack in usability. They either have a too small screen for their multitude of functions or they are bricks that require an extra pocket.

I do not want to give all my data into the hands of some unaccountable billionaires and unknown third parties. I do not want my privacy destroyed.

So no - I decided not to buy a smartphone as replacement for my trusted Ericsson companion.

Here is my new phone:


bigger

It is a Chinese product sold in Germany under the Olympia brand. It is a GSM quad-band 'dumb' phone with FM radio and a flashlight. The standby time is 140 hours and talk-time is 3+ hours. The battery is a standardized model and future replacements will be easy to find.

Size and weight are nearly the same as the old Ericsson. The keys are much bigger, illuminated and easier to handle, especially in the dark. It is a robust construction and the sound quality is good.

It cost me €22.00 ($26.40).

Posted by b on April 2, 2018 at 03:28 PM | Permalink


Tian , Apr 2, 2018 3:48:53 PM | 2

I'm not convinced the new generation of retro dumb phones aka feature phones do not also have all the same surveillance capabilities as their smart brethren - even though they don't expose those capabilities as features to the end user.
John Zelnicker , Apr 2, 2018 4:05:54 PM | 7
b - I only scanned your post, but my answer is: NO!

Don't buy a "smart" phone (or anything else labeled "smart"). They are nothing more than data collectors, part of the Internet of Things that, IMNSHO, is an existential threat to our civilization.

I just decided to look back at the end of the post. and I see that you took my advice. ;-)

Alan Reid , Apr 2, 2018 4:16:20 PM | 9
Well you have to ask yourself, Do i want to participate in a mass surveillance system for one, Then you have to ask Is their any reason i would accept constant audio recordings being made of my environment, then you have the camera angle to contend... Then your GPS location is a major issue, add the ultrasonic beacon thing and the cell tower triangulation aspect to consider.... the phone you have from 2001 is not anywhere near as proficient at many of these tasks being built well before the 2006 legislation regarding this series of systems... If it were me and i knew all about this stuff, i would pay a hell of a lot more than a new phone is worth to keep the old unit in service for as long as you could... Any new phone is going to do all the above to your privacy and then some the old one is very limited, so how concerned are you with being an open book to who ever has access to your phone from the hidden parts and functions you never get to use? Me? I have seen a ton of serious problems with the uses of the tech being built into the modern smartphones, some models give you lots of functions to use, some give you a basic lite experience, But ALL new devices give the state running the system a HEFTY pack of features you will never know about until it's damage has been done. Take my advice Keep the 2000 model going for as long as you can if you must have a mobile phone. If you WANT to be the target of every nasty thing the state does with this new tech investigator/spy then by all means get one of the smart type, Any new one is just as bad as any other after 2006 legislation changes went into effect. 2001 was a very bad event for this topic... I will not have one after the events that befell me. A high performance radio computer with many types of real world sensors, using a wide spread and near unavoidable network of up link stations is the states most useful weapon. Everyone chooses to have what they have, You can also choose to NOT have, but few choose NOT, many choose the worst option on old values of this sort of choice and never think about the loss they incur to have the NEW gadget for whatever reason they rationalize it.
Whorin Piece , Apr 2, 2018 4:21:54 PM | 12
Smart phones are destroyers of information sovereignty. With a PC one can save a copy of every page you visit whereas with the smart phone all you can practically do is view things. It pisses me off.

Has anyone noticed how shallow the so called world wide web has gotten these days.,? Search terms which would in the psst throw up hundreds if not thousands of webpages on the subject matter now result in sometimes no more than 3 or 4 entries. Google has stolen the internet of us all. The web is dead. Cunts like zuckerberg should be drop kicked into the long grass.

nervos belli , Apr 2, 2018 4:23:24 PM | 13
The main espionage equipment in a smartphone or dumbphone is not the application processor and the programs that run on it. It's the GSM/3G/UMTS/LTE/5G chipset which every single one of them obviously has. "We kill with metadata" is the most important aphorism about phones, no matter which kind, ever.

However, a smartphone gives you lots of convenience which your 22$ chinaphone doesn't give you. A browser when on the road, a book reader, a map device.
You have to take a few precautions, e.g. use LineageOS, install AFWall and XPrivacy. Nothing different from using a PC basically. And you certainly shouldn't shell out 500$ for one. Every dollar/euro above ca. 100 has to be very well justified.

Sure, you can live in the 80s, nothing wrong with that. We lived fine back in those days too, but why not take advantage of some of the improvements since then?

psychohistorian | Apr 2, 2018 4:23:43 PM | 15

Nice post b. Expresses my sentiments exactly.

I had to take my Nokia X2 out of the plastic bag I keep it in so it doesn't get wet to see what model it was....I keep the battery out and pay T Mobile $10/year to have emergency minutes when I need them....I maintain and use a land line for all my calls.

It is not like these devices couldn't be useful but like the desktop OS world, bloatware is a standard now. I have programmed handheld devices since 1985 and my latest was a MS Windoze10/C# inventory management application with barcodes and such.

Prior to the Nokia I have now I was nursing along a Palm 720p until I couldn't get a carrier to support it anymore. So since the Palm I have consciously gone back to a Weekly Minder type of pocket calendar which I had to use before the online capability came along.

If our world were to change like I want it to by making the tools finance a public utility I might learn to trust more of my life to be held by technology than the 5 eyes already know......Everyone has seen the movie SNOWDEN , correct?.....my Mac laptop had tape over the camera as soon as I brought it home.....I have a nice Nikon Coolpix camera with the GPS turned off and the battery out......grin


visitor , Apr 2, 2018 4:41:50 PM | 18

I understand your choice, but you should have looked for a basic phone not just with GSM (2G), but also at least with UMTS (3G).

GSM is being wound down, and the frequencies reallocated to LTE (4G).

Many operators in several countries have already switched off their GSM networks (Australia, USA...) This means that in about 3-4 years, you will have real difficulties using your new mobile phone, at least in developed countries; in the Third World, GSM will probably last a bit longer.

Stephane , Apr 2, 2018 4:49:37 PM | 20
I have a cheapo Nokia 100 for calls and a YotaPhone 2 as a tablet. The Yota is Russian but I don't mind the FSB 😃 Aldo it has two screens, one being a passive black and white for use in full bright sun light.
xor , Apr 2, 2018 4:50:34 PM | 21
I think b made a wise decision. Up till now I've also not needed a smart phone and the continious "connection" or being hooked to the "matrix" would not only eat my valuable time away but would also make me feel more bound.

"Another disadvantage of smartphones is enormous amount of personal data they inevitably steal for uncontrolled use by third parties. The technical consultant Dylan Curran studied this:

As soon as an Android smartphone is switched on Google will collect ALL data on every location change and on anything done on the phone. Apple does likewise with its iPhones."

That's the basic privacy nullification. There is also what can be described as the invasive potential. Certain companies, next to intelligence agencies, have made it their business to switch a victims own smart phone into a full blown active spy device. Obviously the victims are particular persons of interests like Dilma Roussef. Whenever a person is having a conversation, talks to himself out loud, has a meeting or is intimate, all sounds and conversations can be recorded next to video when the phone is positioned well. As we know, most people will not or can't part from their beloved smart phone.

aquadraht , Apr 2, 2018 5:19:24 PM | 25
I can not tell what to do. In fact, when buying a "smartphone", you have to get used that the phone will be discharged during 1 or 1.5 days, you will become dependent to next USB source, or a battery pack (which is somewhat heavy, 1 pound ca. but not too bulky.

Personally, I am using such a device since 5 yrs ca., first a 4.7" HTC one of my daughters gave me. I soon installed Cyanogenmod (now LineageOS) and threw away all the bloat and especially the Google and Facebook dirt and spyware. I do not have an email account on the brick, rather a browser over which I may access the Web representation of my email account, which is NOT gmail or similar. I do not use Google playstore.

The "killer apps" for me are mainly FBReader, a free ebook reader, VLC for audio and video, and OSMand, an OpenStreetMap client. Some simple calendar, picture etc. apps are on as well. My recent phone is a Samsung S4 mini, bought used for 50€.

This is a minimalistic setup, but makes tracking and spying other than by government agencies difficult. LineageOS is updated nearly every week, so fairly safe against Android malware.

With a "regular" smartphone, you will lack updates after a few years, have a lot of bloat on board you cannot get rid of, be forced to have a Google account for access of the software repository Google playstore, which is deeply integrated into Android. If one does not care to be spied and sniffed not only by the FBI and NSA, but by Brin and Zuckerberg in addition, ok.

Greetings, a^2

Jay , Apr 2, 2018 5:59:47 PM | 29
Provided one has access to good public WiFi: It seems to me that Wifi and a tablet, or laptop (with a good battery) + the use of a virtual proxy network, VPN, which are almost always encrypted, is better than a smartphone. (Of course if the tablet is Android don't use the Chrome web browser.)

Then just buy a 25 euro Samsung or LG flip phone for the talking part of phone use. It won't last 17 years, but one can still get batteries for them.

Of course this approach doesn't work if you don't have solid public WiFi where you'd normally use a smartphone in public.

xor , Apr 2, 2018 6:17:31 PM | 30
@mh505 #27 Even with a SIM card not linked to your personal ID card it's fairly easy to automatically tie your smartphone to your person whereby you end up in the drag net you try to escape. Not in the least thanks to your close ones whom probably have you listed with your full name + phone number (thus SIM) in their smartphone. And that's even besides you connecting to all kinds of services offered by Google and the likes that know where you personally hang out because of WIFI access points, GPS location (if enabled), connected IP address where someone else connected to who has GPS enabled etc.

Unfortunately your list of EU countries that don't require personal ID to purchase a SIM card is incorrect.

Piotr Berman , Apr 2, 2018 6:35:20 PM | 32
It depends on the prices in your phone market.

In USA it pays to be stupid. The choice I have is to use a smart phone with a monthly charge ca. 100 dollars or a stupid phone with a monthly charge of 8 dollars (or is it 15? and the phone for 8). And if you are old enough you can bear with hardships like memorizing the map of the area were you live, having to check stuff on your own desktop computer before you leave home etc. And the difference in costs can be spent on cigarettes, beer, donations to OxPham, it is your pick.

Concerning surveilance, a stupid phone is used sparingly, so it definitely provides less tracking info.

Dee Wrench , Apr 2, 2018 9:08:38 PM | 42
I'm a 53 year old dog and try to keep things simple for myself. Being paranoid about being tracked and watched isn't my thing. I use my smart phone as a phone when I need to talk to an asswipe at work or my only friend to schedule a meetup or the wife unit when she calls. I have limited data so I usually wait until I'm home to view porn and news websites on the pc. I don't do any financial tasks on the phone, rarely text anyone, rarely use the camera, have only a few apps for things like weather and writing myself a note to remember to pick up milk or dog food on the way home from work. My life is so boring and my bank account so empty I'm not worth a bother to "them".

[Apr 02, 2018] Is It Time to Delete Facebook? by Lambert Strether

Notable quotes:
"... voting is not the same as buying stuff ..."
"... By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Originally published at Alternet . ..."
"... The Hidden Persuaders ..."
Apr 01, 2018 | www.nakedcapitalism.com

Lambert here: Readers will notice that Auerback seems to assume that Cambridge Analytica's shenanigans with Facebook data shifted votes in 2016 (as do the links to which he cites)*. His post summarizes the political and analytical state of play, but may be usefully read in conjunction with this 2017 post at NC by Marina Bart, who cautioned :

There is no question that modern social media facilitates highly segmented marketing. There is no question that political campaigns can benefit from this. Figuring out who might be receptive to your candidate and their policies, where they vote, and motivating them to go to the polls is fundamental campaign work. But that is not at all the same thing as manipulating people into voting against their interests, which is presumably what is feared (and possibly secretly hoped for) by the fretful Democrats. There is no evidence Cambridge Analytica did any psychological manipulations for Trump.

I'm not saying it's impossible for Big Data highly segmented psychological manipulation to ever work. But it isn't happening now; there's no evidence it will work in the near future; there are many, many obstacles to overcome; and there are two very basic reasons why it cannot be the secret weapon I suspect the Democrats long for.

The most basic one is that voting is not the same as buying stuff . There is no direct connection between casting a vote and getting anything in return, not even the momentary pleasure of buying a candy bar.

(In other words, the current Cambridge Analytical scare is based on a category error.) Of course, from a Wall Street "beauty contest" perspective, what Facebook can actually do may matter less than what people think it can do. From my own perspective, I don't want Facebook's filthy data-gathering proboscis nuzzling my personal affairs at all , regardless of any effect it may have, and that goes for Google, too. Whether I'm an outlier in my revulsion remains to be seen.

NOTE * Indeed, were evidence for this assumption to exist, one would assume it would already have been produced. If it has been, I've missed it, and I do try to keep track.

By Marshall Auerback, a market analyst and commentator. Originally published at Alternet .

Cambridge Analytica's systematic harvesting of Facebook user preferences to create detailed models of voter emotions appears to have played a significant role in the election of Donald Trump and the victory of the "Brexiters" on the referendum on whether the United Kingdom should leave the European Union or not. There is shock and anxiety at the revelations about how a few right-wing ideologues were able to exploit Facebook's database and then use it to justify populist campaigns fronted by publicity hounds of dubious moral and financial principles (Donald Trump, Steve Bannon and Nigel Farage immediately spring to mind).

Whether the Facebook fiasco conclusively proves either Russian involvement in the 2016 election (or the UK's Brexit referendum), or simply highlights the violation of campaign finance laws, is yet to be determined. But what is certainly beyond dispute from the apparently unauthorized use of Facebook's database of some 50 million users is that longstanding Madison Avenue advertising techniques worked equally well when applied to majority voting instead of employee practices or consumer spending. One possible outcome is that centralized repositories like Facebook -- or Google, or Amazon -- could become a ripe target for regulation and/or anti-trust action. Another possibility is that the voluntary participation on which Facebook is built will collapse spontaneously via consumer rejection.

That course of action is currently being advocated by WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who is spearheading a #DeleteFacebook campaign .

In one sense, there is nothing new in what Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have done. Way back in 1957, author Vance Packard's The Hidden Persuaders described how :

"Large-scale efforts are being made, often with impressive success, to channel our unthinking habits, our purchasing decisions, and our thought processes by the use of insights gleaned from psychiatry and the social sciences. Typically these efforts take place beneath our level of awareness, so that the appeals which move us are often, in a sense, 'hidden.'"

But in a world in which we have all become reliant on the internet for our information, our searches and declared preferences are constantly recorded. Therefore an uncanny amount about us can be learned in a manner that is far more centralized and prone to manipulation than traditional forms of advertising. A wave of shrinkage in traditional advertising firms has correspondingly occurred as the robotic, targeted advertising has become the new norm, largely because it is both cheaper and more effective.

Facebook in particular is a social media way of harnessing interpersonal linkages through the net. Its model must be using those links and the information they generate to create value for advertisers. Any user of Facebook (or Amazon) can easily see how fast browsers insert ads related to one's most recent searches. So it becomes manifestly clear that these companies are tracking us for common advertising purposes.

Politics has always looked into the underlying motivations of voters to manage them. But using the data as documented by the Guardian , this went to a new level of political detail in 2016 that fueled the faster cycle of hard-hitting Trump campaigning. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Twitter, etc., have all become huge aggregators of this information. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's recent apologies notwithstanding , the companies are either being naïve in proclaiming shock that their data can be misused or, more likely, have been so obsessed with building market share and watching their company market caps explode into the hundreds of billions of dollars that they willfully ignored the scope for abuse. Either way, the information seems to have reached a threshold of importance where governments will step in and disrupt the existing mode, especially now that the full power of this database has been recognized and exploited by a successful political candidate, whether via regulation or antitrust measures. Otherwise, the demands will rise for Facebook to give the data to all, because it cannot guarantee that it has been erased everywhere, which has disturbing implications for our privacy (as well as threatening to destroy Facebook's business model, the success of which is predicated on the exclusive use of the data aggregated from the user base).

However much someone like Brian Acton, who was made a billionaire courtesy of Facebook's purchase of his company, might like others to embrace his #DeleteFacebook campaign, that appears problematic, given how successfully the use of Facebook's model operated in the political context. But there is growing international political momentum to strip the " social network " and its targeted advertising model of much of its abilities to record and use customer data. Former President Barack Obama hinted at this at a recent speech at MIT :

"I do think the large platforms -- Google and Facebook being the most obvious, Twitter and others as well, are part of that ecosystem -- have to have a conversation about their business model that recognizes they are a public good as well as a commercial enterprise. They're not just an invisible platform, they're shaping our culture in powerful ways."

Obama did not explicitly state what he had in mind for these companies, but he did suggest that at a minimum, "the government should have 'rules of the road' to create a level playing field." Even if users find they can't do without their daily Facebook fix, Google search, or Amazon shopping spree, the former president is right. A price will be paid as these companies' activities are increasingly scrutinized.

There are defenses that have been mounted in favor of an unregulated market for Big Data, notably by People Analytics, an organization run by Alex Pentland and his colleagues at MIT's Media Lab. Pentland feels the very centralized nature of the aggregated data is what makes these companies such excellent research targets:

"With the advent of big data and machine learning, researchers actually have enough data and sufficient mathematical tools to build predictive mathematical models. If you talk to other people and see what they are doing, you can improve your own performance, and as you talk to more and more people, you continue to do better and better."

What is not to like? Better decision-making, higher productivity, more efficient communication networks: It looks like a win-win all around. Of course, it was under the guise of research that Cambridge Analytica allegedly got the Facebook data in the first place. It can be used as cover for less benign purposes.

Going further, Pentland cleverly invokes a "New Deal on Data" that allows for the "rebalancing of the ownership of data in favor of the individual whose data is collected. People would have the same rights they now have over their physical bodies and their money."

In theory, this allows the individual discretion as to how much he/she will share with corporations and government regulators. Pentland goes on to suggest that, "the economy will be healthier if the relationship between companies and consumers is more respectful, more balanced. I think that's much more sustainable and will prevent disasters."

Pentland's optimism sounds somewhat naïve in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations, as well as the current Facebook controversy. Of course, anything that further legitimizes this intrusion on our privacy will be welcomed by these entities. How much do we, the owners of our own personal data, actually control it? As far as the government goes, not much, Snowden's revelations (or those of WikiLeaks) illustrated. And surely the current Facebook and Cambridge Analytica imbroglio undercuts this benign picture that Pentland describes of a happy, informed consumer who autonomously shares his data with various companies, with a view toward building a more "balanced" relationship.

On the contrary, the Facebook fiasco highlights that there exists a thoroughly unequal partnership between the aggregators of information and the information owners, making abuse almost inevitable. Indeed, it is highly doubtful that most consumers and users are even aware of the extent to which their habits, thoughts, and overall private space are monitored by these companies (to say nothing of the more obvious government and law enforcement agencies, even if we're not terrorists).

In general, the notion of a level playing field of information or data that the market can freely and efficiently price has been debunked successfully by Nobel Laureates George Akerlof and Joseph Stiglitz. Both have challenged the " efficient market hypothesis ," which holds that market prices or odds reflect all known information, mitigating the need for intrusive government intervention/regulation. If information asymmetry exists, the obvious implication is that there is a need for some form of overriding regulation to rectify this imbalance. This would also seem to apply to Pentland's New Deal on Data.

Edward Snowden has made us question whether the data and corresponding privacy can be adequately safeguarded from more scrutiny by governments. The more relevant question from the point of view of, say, Silicon Valley and its high tech moguls is whether governments will move more aggressively to control the aggregators themselves, and whether the revelations of their abuses will provoke a backlash, which will impact their companies' growth and profitability.

Already, as Reuters reported, " Nordea, the Nordic region's biggest bank, will not let its sustainable funds buy more Facebook shares for the time being." The European Union has fined Facebook €110m "for 'incorrect or misleading' information regarding data sharing between Facebook and WhatsApp" (even though Facebook acquired the latter). And the EU has also proposed that "companies with significant digital revenues in Europe will pay a 3 percent tax on their turnover on various online services in the European Union," legislation that will cover Facebook (as well as Amazon and Google). Although the tax doesn't actually address the issue of the database abuse itself, the Cambridge Analytica scandal has dissipated valuable political capital for these companies, which will make it harder for them to stop these attacks on their business model and underlying profitability.

Indeed, the focus on taxing turnover, as opposed to profits, is telling, because sales records are far more difficult to doctor and conceal via accounting subterfuge than profits. In effect, this is tantamount to the EU stating to these tech giants, "Don't even think about making a transfer payment to Ireland and leaving yourself with an operating loss in our jurisdiction so you can pay no tax."

As the Brexit referendum illustrates, the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal itself goes well beyond the U.S. Consequently, we can expect an attack on all fronts -- the U.S., the EU, and likely Asia as well. At this point it is too early to judge if this will have any impact on the ongoing Mueller investigation, but the economic implications already seem evident. The U.S. equity boom has been partly in reaction to deregulation in banking and elsewhere. The tech industry has largely escaped any kind of regulatory or antitrust scrutiny and has benefited accordingly. As Edward Harrison of the site Credit Writedowns has observed :

"Some of the best performing stocks in the US are the large Internet-centric technology stocks like Facebook. There is even an acronym, FANG, to describe Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google. Add Apple and, together, these five stocks account for one quarter of the Nasdaq's total market capitalization. They are huge. And Facebook's data breach represents a threat to them."

Could it be that public indignation at the Facebook profile harvesting scandal will lead to new regulation that could impede the value of some tech-based advertising models? Will it lead to a consumer backlash that slows the growth of the companies themselves? Certainly, it is easier to attack a wealthy and powerful company, if and when it becomes Public Enemy #1, even though many of these politicos will find themselves attacking the instruments of their own political success (or fundraising sources). Facebook or Google would no doubt argue that their platforms are just a facilitation of the communities inherent in the internet and that they have benefited by exploiting first mover advantage . But a centralized, monopolistic exploitation of these interpersonal links is inviting public intervention, especially as the technology can also survive on a distributed, competitive basis. In the eyes of many, these companies are unlikely to escape the opprobrium of helping to allow the Trump disaster to descend upon us. Overseas, they could well be scapegoated if the British economy falters as a result of leaving the European Union. On a broader scale, this scandal may well destroy any last vestiges of "techno-optimism," seeing how it has highlighted the misuses of technology and the human damage it can continue to inflict on us far more profoundly than ever before.

[Apr 01, 2018] Facebook In Turmoil Employees In Uproar Over Executive's Leaked Memo Zero Hedge

Apr 01, 2018 | www.zerohedge.com

Facebook In Turmoil: Employees In Uproar Over Executive's Leaked Memo

by Tyler Durden Sat, 03/31/2018 - 08:50 858 SHARES

Facebook's problems are just getting worse, and now investors can add worker morale to the (bucket) list of problems as the New York Times reports that employees furious over a leaked 2016 memo from a top executive seeking to justify the company's relentless growth and "questionable" data harvesting - even if it led to terrorists attacks organized on the platform.

VP Andrew "Boz" Bosworth - one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's most trusted executives, wrote that connecting people is the greater good even if it " costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies.

"Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools."

On Friday, the fallout from Bosworth's leaked memo - following several weeks of outrage over the company's data harvesting practices, has Facebook employees in an uproar , according to The Times .

According to two Facebook employees, workers have been calling on internal message boards for a hunt to find those who leak to the media . Some have questioned whether Facebook has been transparent enough with its users and with journalists, said the employees, who asked not to be identified for fear of retaliation. Many are also concerned over what might leak next and are deleting old comments or messages that might come across as controversial or newsworthy , they said. - NYT

One former Facebook employee, Alex Muffett, wrote on Twitter that Bosworth's memo was a "significant" part of his decision to leave the company.

"Between overwork and leadership direction evidenced thusly, I could never stay," wrote Muffett.

"There are some amazing engineers working at Facebook, folks who care deeply about user privacy, security, and how people will use the code that they write," Mr. Muffett said later in a message. "Alas this episode may not help" to achieve more transparent internal product discussion, he said.

Buzzfeed article suppressed?

Following Buzzfeed's Thursday's publication of the "growth at any cost" leak, BuzzFeed reporter Ryan Mac suggested Facebook was censoring the article - tweeting "Interesting that only about 14k views (about 2% of total) for our story have come through Facebook referrals. Facebook's users should be aware of this, so feel free to share it on Facebook."

When Vox 's Matthew Yglesias chimed in to corroborate Mac's observation, Facebook head of news feed Adam Mosseri chimed in to say that the social media giant " 100% do not take any action on stories for being critical of us. "

Mark Zuckerberg responded to Bosworth's letter in a statement essentially disavowing the Boz, while also noting that Facebook changed their entire corporate focus to connect people and "bring them together"...

Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We've never believed the ends justify the means .

We recognize that connecting people isn't enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year .

Meanwhile, Facebook is rapidly becoming radioactive, inside and out.

The question is when will investors - and especially hedge funds, for whom FB was the second most popular stock as of Dec. 31 - agree, and do what Mark Zuckerberg has been aggressively doing in recent weeks : dump it.

0

DillyDilly Sat, 03/31/2018 - 08:52 Permalink

What a waste of fucking lives.

Cognitive Dissonance -> Leakanthrophy Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:00 Permalink

This is not a coordinated and concerted effort by Facebook execs to 'grow' the company at any and all costs because stock options must be vested 'in the money' and obscene amounts of 'compensation' are their god given right.

Nope, this is the work of a lone wolf exec VP who was drunk on power and out of control.

<Well, it works for the CIA to explain away their latest domestic terrorism operation or Presidential assassination attempt.>

Jumanji1959 -> johngaltfla Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:26 Permalink

Goebbels would be proud of Zuckerberg

gregga777 -> Jumanji1959 Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:42 Permalink

Goebbels would be proud of Zuckerberg

Press Statement for Immediate Release:

Today Mark Zuckerberg announced the official name change of FaceBook to GoëbbelsBook.

"Today marks the official change of our corporate name from FaceBook to GoëbbelsBook in honor of the German NSDAP (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei) Reich Minister of Propaganda (1933-1945) Dr. Joseph Goëbbels (29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945). Dr. Goëbbels revolutionary and visionary dream was that of the total surveillance state. We have successfully implemented his concept of the total surveillance state."

"When a client downloads the GoëbbelsBook application it vacuums up everything from their computer and mobile devices. It gobbles up everything they write, all their contacts, their "likes"; in short every action they perform. The application also digitizes all telephone conversations for upload. The application then uploads everything to our corporate servers. We then upload all user data to the "Five Eyes" Gestapo (Geheime Staatspolizei) agencies that are our true original investors and beneficial owners."

"It is truly a proud day for me and all of my servants here at GoëbbelsBook that we have implemented the revolutionary total surveillance state vision of Dr. Joseph Goëbbels. I'm sure that he would be justifiably proud of our accomplishment."

glenlloyd -> ThanksChump Sat, 03/31/2018 - 11:16 Permalink

It's a little more complex than just Gramma giving up some data that she volunteers via a form. It's sucking in everything that a user does or says and selling that...everything. Same as Google.

In many cases you will find people who weren't aware that FB was selling user data, it's not really clear, unless you read the TOS fine print it's not clear. Even in the fine print what they do is obscured by the way they write it.

If the announcement of what they do with the data was in big bold letters at the top of FB every time you logged in the participation would be different.

This is one reason that although I've got a FB account I've never provided anything more than the de minimus information to have that account, and I don't spend much if any time on it. It's been weeks since I've logged in to FB.

Ex-Oligarch -> ThanksChump Sat, 03/31/2018 - 14:05 Permalink

You may be enjoying the mockery of FB users, but your line of argument ignores reality.

FB users indeed knew that the company was "selling something": advertising. Advertising in the form of "sponsored posts," newsfeed videos, solicitations to "like" an advertiser's page, notifications that someone in your network had liked an advertiser's page, and on and on and on. Every user viewed such advertising while using the service.

And indeed, selling targeted advertising is the dominant business model for providers of free content, messaging, email, webhosting, and a host of other internet services. It is exactly what a reasonable person would expect FB to be doing, based on its public disclosures and statements to the business community, and consistent with privacy laws. Even educated users would not expect the company to be selling its user data to third parties, let alone to government three-letter agencies. No one would expect the phone app to illegally log or record phone and message data for communications outside the app.

pigpen -> Jumanji1959 Sat, 03/31/2018 - 21:51 Permalink

Jumanji, I live in heart of silicon valley and the goobook employees are so self important and associate working for the goobook surveillance tracking digtal advertising monopolies as a virtuous thing.

Let's call goobook what they are a surveillance tracking company that doesn't share any of the profits from your data with the owner: you.

My solution to these corporate pricks is to cut off their oxygen: digtal advertising and refuse to let them monetize me and others promoting using adblocking on mobile.

My solution is for everybody to immediately download brave browser or equivalent adblocker solution (depending on your tech knowledge).

Brave blocks advertising malware and tracking by DEFAULT on any device and operating system rendering digital advertising model useless.

Whoever controls the browser controls the money.

I use YouTube daily but run it out of brave browser. Zero ads and you can listen with screen off or while browsing other content.

We can destroy the value of digtal advertising by mass adoption of brave browser.

What is digtal advertising worth if ads can't be sent, viewed or tracked?

Let's take down the goobook surveillance tracking censorship monopolies. Install brave or equivalent mobile adblocker immediately.

Cheers,

Pigpen

Cognitive Dissonance -> City_Of_Champyinz Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:34 Permalink

I created a fake FB account, then 'deleted' it when FB demanded I prove who I wasn't.

LOL

Does anyone wonder why FB only wants 'real' accounts? Data mining is so much more profitable when you can assure the purchaser the 'data' are grade A number one bleeders/spenders.

ThirteenthFloor -> Cognitive Dissonance Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:28 Permalink

Facebook = Dillusional Narcissism

Problem is one day you may in fact be targeted for having no 'digital footprint', by the F's running the place. Read "The Circle".

OverTheHedge -> JoeSoMD Sat, 03/31/2018 - 11:38 Permalink

Which ties in nicely with the US demanding social media account details with visa applications. You haven't said whether your work is us government based, but it would be pleasingly ironic if it were.

I'm still confused by that, actually: allegedly the NSA has all data, from everywhere, so why ask for the visa applicant's data? Is it too hard to connect physical and digital people, or are they just seeing if you will admit to your online indiscretions?

snblitz -> Cognitive Dissonance Sat, 03/31/2018 - 15:15 Permalink

14 day waiting period on facebook account deletes.

Some years ago I created a facebook account and then deleted it. Deleting it was not easy. When I did the final delete, it stated that all my data would be deleted, and would not be recoverable ever. I was also told I would have to **not** log into my account for 14 days after which everything would be gone. If I did log in during that period the account delete would not occur.

It has been some years and I still live in fear that if I was to "check" if my account still exists by attempting to log into it I will get a "Welcome back" message.

I suppose there are worse things. The account could be active and "owned" by someone else.

chumbawamba -> KJWqonfo7 Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:27 Permalink

The CIA put way too much time, money and effort into Facebook to just let it fade away. Hell no, they will double down and figure out a way to keep the concern going, if under a different guise.

-chumblez.

nmewn -> Cognitive Dissonance Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:09 Permalink

But but but...they are listening! They even reformatted so their victims can moar easily delete private information themselves instead of having to dig down through twenty two screens to find it!

And Fuckerberg has a mansion. In Hawaii. With a wall. Because he cares!

Cognitive Dissonance -> nmewn Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:29 Permalink

They even reformatted so their victims can moar easily delete private information themselves.....

The funniest part of your comment is the fact people will actually believe their information was 'deleted' because they push a button that said doing so would delete the information.

Riiiiiight. And I have a bridge in Brooklyn for sale that you can get for a steal.

Philthy_Stacker -> Cognitive Dissonance Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:51 Permalink

"people will actually believe their information was 'deleted' "

Well, aside from birth and school records, most data will become 'stale' and worthless to advertisers and agencies. I suspect that your 'old' data will eventually become 'archived' in a storage array somewhere, essentially, statistically more worthless as time goes by. Perhaps, adding to a historical perspective on some future Documentary, about the collapse of Facebook.

Info on your birth, school, medical, jobs, driving record ... the authorities already have all that. Facebook is essentially worthless, other than as a phone book with pictures.

GunnerySgtHartman -> DillyDilly Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:01 Permalink

It's amazing that FB employees were THIS NAIVE about what was going on in that company, thinking it was just about "connecting people." Anyone on the street with half a brain could see what was going on. Grow up and see the world for what it is, people.

JoeSoMD -> GunnerySgtHartman Sat, 03/31/2018 - 11:40 Permalink

I think it is more "being ignorant". To me, being naive implies being "an innocent". These people are hard core coders, computer scientists, network engineers, etc. What they do is figure out how to do outrageously complex technical things, and they are very successful at it. Like most scientists and engineers however, they never stop to ask "should we be doing these things". They stand on the shoulders of the scientist and engineers who came before them and continue to progress the state of their art, but never consider the ethics. I see it all the time at work. Can we develop this new thing? Sure. Should we develop this new thing? That's not my problem - management wants this new thing. They are no different than the guards at a concentration camp herding people to the ovens. I was only following orders.

the_river_fish -> DillyDilly Sat, 03/31/2018 - 11:33 Permalink

Alphabet (the parent company of Google) spent the most as a company on Lobbying. Facebook's spend on lobbying increased 5500% since 2009. They spent most lobbying on changes to data privacy.

https://thistimeitisdifferent.com/lobbying-on-data-privacy

dark fiber Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:02 Permalink

Have Zuckerberg and the rest of the asseclowns over there realized how fuccked they really are? It is only a matter of time before class action and individual lawsuits are filed not only against Facebook (fuck that) but them personally, for intentionally and willfully creating a data mining operation disguised as a social network. They will get sued for every penny they have and will be lucky if they don't end up doing time.

notfeelinthebern Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:07 Permalink

The people who use this tripe are addicts, and like all addicts need rehab. They couldn't say how many articles are in the US Constitution yet practically know what Oprah eats for breakfast - and it ain't a Weight Watchers diet!

tedstr Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:19 Permalink

I got into the dotcom world in 97 got out in '11. Worked for a bunch of big and small dotcoms. They are all so badly run its hard to describe. rampant greed zero morality.. The VCs just want their 100:1 return. VCs are idiots. some are just stupid many are just illegal accounting fraud capitalizing expenses accelerating revenue recognition over stating audience. People forget that Fb has already had a bunch of exposed numbers "mistakes". Hope it goes to zero.

Byrond Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:39 Permalink

From an evolutionary standpoint, humans are extemely adapted to hiding feelings, thoughts, plans, motivations, and intentions. This has enabled our survival for millenia. Our ears don't move toward what or who we're listening to, and we don't have tails or bristling fur or feathers that would display our emotions. Facebook causes us to post all this stuff, then takes ownership and uses it to make a profit any way they can. Social media is not something that we are adapted to, and we're getting stomped on by the companies that engineer it.

JTPatroit Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:48 Permalink

To me, what is really sad about this whole story is that there is nobody at Facebook - now or previously - who doesn't know that their company makes its money by harvesting data and selling it to anyone with a few bucks in their hand. I believe these employees are all lying when they deny this plain fact.

I believe the same to be true of Google, but of course, Google at least has never denied it, like Facebook is trying to do now that someone in the MSM has bothered to report about it.

Nesbiteme Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:50 Permalink

Anyone here ever work with chickens...the henhouse/chicken analogy is often used with the facebook...when you walk into the henhouse sometimes the hens they aren't expecting visitors and they get all fussy and show their agitation through clucking and squawking and fussing about...but then after a few moments they go back to what they were doing as if nothing ever happened. That about what is going on here. Facebook users and employees will go back to work for their owners in a few more days and it will have been all forgotten.

Smerf Sat, 03/31/2018 - 09:54 Permalink

Since most users of Facebook are gossiping women and deeply closeted homosexuals, I don't see this having a material impact on user growth. It may even suck more of them in.

SirBarksAlot Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:11 Permalink

According to Thomas Paine, all the Facebook, Amazon, Google and Tesla are products of the DOD and are losing their hidden government support. That is the real reason that people like Zuckerberg and Soros are divesting.

https://youtu.be/AvKNnuSp2Gw

MusicIsYou Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:13 Permalink

People will forget about any Facebook scandal after another scandal surfaces elsewhere in 3, 2, 1 and....... There goes the school of ADHD zombie fish-head people onto another hook, the scandal of the next week. The next scandal will hit the top of the pond and sink, and the fish-head school of people-fish will swim over to it and stare at the scandal to see if it moves. People are grotesquely simple minded.

Last of the Mi Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:52 Permalink

fb will not recover from massive spying vs people will once again log on to say something snarky, see another picture of their neighbor's cat and above all else get a "like". OMG I'm important!

Soros has billions to funnel through the resistance that is fb for the furtherance of his global agenda. They may be down, but certainly not out.

Nuclear Winter Sat, 03/31/2018 - 10:54 Permalink

So now the FB employees finally see what the bloodsucking Vampire Zuckerberg and Frankenstein Bosworth really are: the enemy of the people. Time for a mass revolt, pitchforks and torches to burn down the platform.

Koba the Dread Sat, 03/31/2018 - 18:59 Permalink

The Facebook Wall photograph is Photoshoped. While everyone else has written in freehand in chalk, the "Maybe someone dies!?". "Why We Spy So Much?" and "WTF?" posts are set in perfect computer type.

Facebook is a monster of deceit. Why does this article need to lie with Photoshopped photographs? If Facebook thinks we're rubes and yokels, so does this article.

Perhaps they're right.

Trogdor Sat, 03/31/2018 - 20:13 Permalink

"We've never believed the ends justify the means ." ~ Zuckerfucker

Bull-EFFIN-Shit.

The Liberal Credo is "THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS" I can't tell you how many Liberals I've asked this very question and they will flat out tell you that if you have to throw babies into a branch chipper to get what you want, YOU DO IT . Lefties/Communists have always believed in mass murder to get what they want - so - spying on a few million people certainly doesn't give the pause.

[Apr 01, 2018] Goodbye Facebook, and Screw You Too by Christopher Ketcham

Notable quotes:
"... Like Google, Facebook is ambiguous in its privacy policies as to how it will share information with third parties. A former CIA officer, speaking anonymously, confirmed the CIA's interest in Facebook as an intelligence and communications tool, noting that the agency's use of Facebook for operations is "classified." ..."
"... Christopher Ketcham is a freelance writer. You can write him at cketcham99@mindspring.com or see more of his work at christopherketcham.com . ..."
Apr 01, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org
... ... ...

Users with at least half a brain have long known that Facebook exploits their privacy and was probably from the start a vehicle for full-blown surveillance by our spy agencies. I certainly suspected the latter. In 2009, I wrote up a pitch for an investigative piece about Google, Facebook and their connections to the CIA. I published a piece in Counterpunch about the Google angle, but was never able to report out fully what I suspected about Facebook. In the pitch, I wrote:

If personal data could be collected in more concentrated, focused form, with the additional advantage of efficiently collating social networks, complete with personal photos, habits, activities and itineraries freely provided in a centralized system by the users themselves well, that would be Facebook. The intelligence services' hand in Facebook is not direct, but publicly available records suggest that venture capital was pumped into Facebook from investment firms whose board members cross-pollinate with a company called In-Q-Tel.

Founded in 1999 to research and invest in new digital technologies focused on intelligence gathering, In-Q-Tel was part of the push for the privatization of national security operations that would become endemic under the Bush Administration. Some $25 million in seed money during Google's start-up in 1999 arrived in part from the equity firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which works with In-Q-Tel to develop spy technology. In-Q-Tel-funded companies produced the eye-in-the-sky image database that would become Google Earth. In mid-2005, In-Q-Tel's former director of technology assessment, Rob Painter, joined Google as "senior federal manager," further cementing Google's bond with the intelligence community.

Like Google, Facebook is ambiguous in its privacy policies as to how it will share information with third parties. A former CIA officer, speaking anonymously, confirmed the CIA's interest in Facebook as an intelligence and communications tool, noting that the agency's use of Facebook for operations is "classified." The former CIA officer only went so far as to suggest the CIA may be using the site for communications. "It's a perfect place to hide communications," says the former CIA officer. "You don't need secret, expensive satellite systems anymore when you can hide in plain sight with millions of idiots sending photos and inane messages to each other." When pressed on the subject, the source reiterated: "How it's employed by [the CIA] is classified, and you shouldn't write about it." The Facebook angle for the proposed piece will require further reporting. What's widely known is that the CIA has been using Facebook since 2006 as a recruiting tool for the clandestine services, which marks the first time the CIA has employed online social networking for the hiring of personnel.

Ah, but denial is a powerful drug, one that produces amnesia, and I soon forgot my own reporting and marched as a guinea pig into the Facebook surveillance system. We now know exactly how Facebook shares information with third parties.

Deleting my account, I join an exodus that requires no explanation given the Cambridge Analytica disclosures. Hopefully this is the start of a movement that will drive the company's stock price down where we'll find greasy Mark Zuckerberg begging for a quarter on the corner. Perhaps sooner, someone skilled with demolitions and with access inside the company can blow up the Facebook servers, and we can be done with this menace altogether. More articles by: Christopher Ketcham

Christopher Ketcham is a freelance writer. You can write him at cketcham99@mindspring.com or see more of his work at christopherketcham.com .

[Apr 01, 2018] Trouble for big tech as consumers sour on Amazon, Facebook and co

Those companies are way too connected with intelligence agencies (some of then are essentially an extension of intelligence agencies) and as such they will be saved in any case. That means that chances that it will be dot com bubble burst No.2 exist. but how high they are is unclear.
Apr 01, 2018 | www.theguardian.com

Trump is after Amazon, Congress is after Facebook, and Apple and Google have their problems too. Should the world's top tech firms be worried?

rump is going after Amazon; Congress is after Facebook; Google is too big, and Apple is short of new products. Is it any surprise that sentiment toward the tech industry giants is turning sour? The consequences of such a readjustment, however, may be dire.

Trump lashes out at Amazon and sends stocks tumbling

Read more

The past two weeks have been difficult for the tech sector by every measure. Tech stocks have largely driven the year's stock market decline, the largest quarterly drop since 2015.

Facebook saw more than $50bn shaved off its value after the Observer revealed that Cambridge Analytica had harvested millions of people's user data for political profiling. Now users are deleting accounts, and regulators may seek to limit how the company monetizes data, threatening Facebook's business model.

On Monday, the Federal Trade Commission confirmed it was investigating the company's data practices. Additionally, Facebook said it would send a top executive to London to appear in front of UK lawmakers, but it would not send the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, who is increasingly seen as isolated and aloof.

Shares of Facebook have declined more than 17% from the close on Friday 16 March to the close on Thursday before the Easter break.

Amazon, meanwhile, long the target of President Trump's ire, saw more than $30bn, or 5%, shaved off its $693bn market capitalization after it was reported that the president was "obsessed" with the company and that he "wondered aloud if there may be any way to go after Amazon with antitrust or competition law".

Shares of Apple, and Google's parent company Alphabet, are also down, dropping on concerns that tech firms now face tighter regulation across the board.

For Apple, there's an additional concern that following poor sales of its $1,000 iPhone X. For Google, there's the prospect not only of tighter regulation on how it sells user date to advertisers, but also the fear of losing an important Android software patent case with the Oracle.

Big tech's critics may be forgiven a moment of schadenfreude. But for shareholders and pension plans, the tarnishing of tech could have serious consequences.

Apple, Amazon and Alphabet make up 10% of the S&P 500 with a combined market capitalization market cap of $2.3tn. Add Microsoft and Facebook, with a combined market value of $1.1tn, and the big five make up 15% of the index.

Overall, technology makes up 25% of the S&P. If tech pops, the thinking goes, so pops the market.

"We're one week into a sell-off after a multi-year run-up," says Eric Kuby of North Star Investment Management. "The big picture is that over the past five years a group of mega cap tech stocks like Nvidia, Netflix, Facebook have gone up anywhere from 260% to 1,800%."


Confess -> Nedward Marbletoe , 1 Apr 2018 16:12

The post office is a service for citizens. It operates at a loss. Being able to send a letter across the country in two days for fifty cents is a service our government provides. Amazon is abusing that service. It's whole business model requires government support.
Byron Delaney , 1 Apr 2018 15:59
Amazon's spending power is garnered simply from its massively overalued stock price. If that falls, down goes Amazon. Facebook is entirely dependent on the postive opinion of active users. If users stop using, down goes Facebook's stock price, and so goes the company. It's extremely fragile. Apple has a short product cycle. If people lose interest in its newest versions, its stock price can tank in one year or so. Google and Microsoft seem quite solid, but are likely overvalued. (Tesla will most likwly go bankrupt, along with many others.) If these stocks continue to lose value, rwtirement funds will get scary, and we could enter recession again almost immediately. Since companies such as Amazon have already degraded the eatablished infrastructure of the economy, there may be no actual recovery. We will need to change drastically in some way. It seems that thw wheels are already turning, and this is where we are going now - with Trump as our leader.
lennbob , 1 Apr 2018 15:58
'Deutsche Bank analyst Lloyd Walmsley said: "We do not think attacking Amazon will be popular."'

Lloyd Walmsley hasn't spent much time in Seattle, apparently. The activities of Amazon and Google (but especially Amazon) have all contributed to traffic problems, rising rents and property prices, and gentrification (among other things) that are all making Seattle a less affordable, less attractive place to live. That's why Amazon is looking to establish a 'second headquarters' in another city: they've upset too many people here to be able to expand further in this area without at least encountering significant resistance. People here used to refer to Microsoft as 'the evil empire'; now we use it to refer to Amazon. And when it comes to their original business, books, I and most people I know actively avoid buying from Amazon, choosing instead to shop at the area's many independent book stores.

PardelLux , 1 Apr 2018 15:54
Dear Guardian,
why do you still sport the FB, Twitter, Google+, Instagramm, Pinterest etc. buttons below every single article? Why do you have to do their dirty work? I don't do that on my webpages, you don't need to do neither. Please stop it.
Alexander Dunnett , 1 Apr 2018 15:42
Not being a Trump supporter, however there is a lot of sense in some of the comments coming from Trump,. Whether he carries through with them , is another subject.


His comment on Amazon:- " Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state or local governments, use our postal system as their delivery boy (causing tremendous loss to the US) and putting many thousands of retailers out of business."

Who can argue against that? Furthermore, the retailers would have paid some tax!

Talk about elephants in the room. What about the elephants who were let out of the room to run amuck ? Should it not have been the case of being wise before the event , rather than after the event?

Neovercingetorix , 1 Apr 2018 15:20
A quasi-battle of the billionaires. With Bezos, there's the immediate political element in Bezos' ownership of the clearly anti-Trump Washington Post, which has gone so far as to become lax in editorial oversight (eg, misspelling and even occasional incomplete articles published in an obvious rush to be first to trash POTUS), but there are other issues. Amazon's impact on physical retail is well-documented, and not so long ago (ie, before Trump "attacked" Amazon"), it was sometimes lamented by those on the American left, and Trump is correct in that critique, provided one believes it is valid in the first place. Amazon does have a lot of data on its customers, including immense expenditure information on huge numbers of people. What kinds of constraints are there in place to protect this data, aside from lawyer-enriching class action suits? Beyond that, there's also online defense procurement, worth hundreds of billions in revenue to Amazon in the years to come, that was included in the modified NDAA last year. Maybe that is on Trump's mind, maybe not, but it should probably be on everyone's mind. Maybe the Sherman Antitrust Act needs to be reinvigorated. It would seem that even Trump's foes should be willing to admit that he gets some things right, but that now seems unacceptable. I mean, look at the almost knee-jerk defense of NAFTA, which way back when used to be criticized by Democrats and unions, but now must be lionized.
Byron Delaney , 1 Apr 2018 14:46
If Amazon can get cheaper shipping than anyone else and enable manufactuers to sell direct, they can sell more than anyone else as long as consumers only buy according to total price. This means two things. One, all retailers as well as distributors may be put out of business. Two, the success of Amazon may rely almost entirely on shipping costs. American consumers also will need to forego the shopping experience, but if they may do so if they're sarisfied with remaining in their residences, workplaces, and cars most of the time. This is the case in many places. People visit Starbucks drive thrus and eat and drink in their cars. If Amazon owns the food stores such as Whole Foods and Starbucks, it's a done deal. Except for one thing. If this happens, the economy will collapse. That may have already happened. Bezos is no rocket scientist.

[Apr 01, 2018] About the only proven use of Facebook

Apr 01, 2018 | www.counterpunch.org

Maybe it did expand my audience. I have no idea. About the only proven use I found was being able to get on Tinder to get laid, as you cannot have a Tinder account without a Facebook account. Thereafter I called it Fuckbook.

[Mar 29, 2018] Using Gmail as a spam mail storage and for all useless registration that require email address

Mar 29, 2018 | discussion.theguardian.com