Tag Archives: Facebook

Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared, by Michael Krieger

Powerful people have good reason to be scared. They’ve screwed up a great country and people have figured it out. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

“Only the weak hit the fly with a hammer.”

– Bangambiki Habyarimana

Anyone who tells you the recent escalation of censorship by U.S. tech giants is merely a reflection of private companies making independent decisions is either lying or dangerously ignorant.

In the case of Facebook, the road from pseudo-platform to willing and enthusiastic tool of establishment power players is fairly straightforward. It really got going earlier this year when issues surrounding egregious privacy violations in the case of Cambridge Analytica (stuff that had been going on for years) could finally be linked to the Trump campaign.  It was at this point that powerful and nefarious forces spotted an opportunity to leverage the company’s gigantic influence in distributing news and opinion for their own ends. Rather than hold executives to account and break up the company, the choice was made to commandeer and weaponize the platform. This is where we stand today.

Let’s not whitewash history though. These tech companies have been compliant, out of control government snitches for a long time. Thanks to Edward Snowden, we’re aware of the deep and longstanding cooperation between these lackeys and U.S. intelligence agencies in the realm of mass surveillance. As such, the most recent transformation of these companies into full fledged information gatekeepers should be seen in its proper context; merely as a dangerous continuation and expansion of an already entrenched reality.

But it’s all out in the open now. Facebook isn’t even hiding the fact that it’s outsourcing much of its “fake news” analysis to the Atlantic Council, a think tank funded by NATO, Gulf States and defense contractors. As reported by Reuters:

Facebook began looking for outside help amid criticism for failing to rein in Russian propaganda ahead of the 2016 presidential elections…

With scores of its own cybersecurity professionals and $40 billion in annual revenue in 2017, Facebook might not seem in need of outside help.

It doesn’t need outside help, it needs political cover, which is the real driver behind this.

To continue reading: Censorship Is What Happens When Powerful People Get Scared

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Taibbi: Beware the Slippery Slope of Facebook Censorship

One reason to take Taibbi’s warning seriously is that he’s a liberal and presumably a lot of what Facebook is censoring are views with which he doesn’t agree. From Taibbi at rollingstone.com:

You may have seen a story this week detailing how Facebook shut down a series of accounts. As noted by Politico, Facebook claimed these accounts “sought to inflame social and political tensions in the United States, and said their activity was similar — and in some cases connected — to that of Russian accounts during the 2016 election.”

Similar? What does “similar” mean?

The death-pit for civil liberties is usually found in a combination of fringe/unpopular people or ideas and a national security emergency.

This is where we are with this unsettling new confab of Facebook, Congress and the Trump administration.

Read this jarring quote from Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) about the shutting down of the “inauthentic” accounts:

“Today’s disclosure is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation… I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, will continue to identify Russian troll activity and to work with Congress…”

This was in a story in which Facebook stated that it did not know the source of all the pages. They might be Russian, or they might just be Warner’s idea of “sowing division.” Are we comfortable with that range of possibilities?

Many of the banned pages look like parodies of some paranoid bureaucrat’s idea of dangerous speech.

A page called “Black Elevation” shows a picture of Huey Newton and offers readers a job. “Aztlan Warriors” contains a meme celebrating the likes of Geronimo and Zapata, giving thanks for their service in the “the 500 year war against colonialism.”

And a banned “Mindful Being” page shared this, which seems culled from Jack Handey’s Deep Thoughts bit:

“We must unlearn what we have learned because a conditioned mind cannot comprehend the infinite.”

Facebook also wiped out a “No Unite The Right 2” page, appearing to advertise a counter-rally on the upcoming anniversary of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Facebook was “helped” in its efforts to wipe out these dangerous memes by the Atlantic Council, on whose board you’ll find confidence-inspiring names like Henry Kissinger, former CIA chief Michael Hayden, former acting CIA head Michael Morell and former Bush-era Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. (The latter is the guy who used to bring you the insane color-coded terror threat level system.)

To continue reading: Taibbi: Beware the Slippery Slope of Facebook Censorship

U.S. Tech Giants Are Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Are Running Into Serious Trouble, by Michael Krieger

Google and Facebook are running into backlash from their growth-at-all-costs policies and their maladroit political moves. From Michael Krieger at libertyblitzkrieg.com:

Within Google, knowledge about Dragonfly has been restricted to just a few hundred members of the internet giant’s 88,000-strong workforce, said a source with knowledge of the project. The source spoke to The Intercept on condition of anonymity, as they were not authorized to contact the media. The source said that they had moral and ethical concerns about Google’s role in the censorship, which is being planned by a handful of top executives and managers at the company with no public scrutiny.

“I’m against large companies and governments collaborating in the oppression of their people, and feel like transparency around what’s being done is in the public interest,” the source said, adding that they feared “what is done in China will become a template for many other nations.”

From The Intercept article: Google Plans to Launch Censored Search Engine in China, Leaked Documents Reveal

Today’s post will explain why I think the U.S. tech giants are in the early stages of destroying themselves. It will focus on two of the biggest names in the space, Facebook and Google. Both face serious issues that are only now truly coming to a head and rooted in two primary factors, size and politics.

Facebook is further along in the process of being in serious trouble, so let’s start there. The social media company currently has 2.2 billion active users worldwide, which amounts to well over half of all human beings online at the moment (estimated at 3-4 billion). In other words, the company already has a tremendous share of global potential users. Since everybody already knows what Facebook is, you have to assume those who aren’t using it (like me), aren’t using it for a reason. Thus, you have to ask whether or not meaningful growth in active users is remotely realistic for Facebook. I would argue not.

There are many reasons to bet against Facebook significantly growing active users in the years ahead, but the main hurdle seems to be keeping the users it already has actively engaged. Specifically, I think there are two types of users Facebook risks losing going forward. These people might not “delete Facebook” per se, but their engagement with the platform may drop meaningfully.

To continue reading: U.S. Tech Giants Are Too Big, Too Powerful and Now Are Running Into Serious Trouble

Facebook – The Anti-Social Network, by Tom Luongo

Tom Luongo thinks that Facebook’s problems have only just begun. From Luongo at tomluongo.me:

“I thought we were gonna get television. The truth is… television is gonna get us.”
—Dick Goodwin, Quiz Show

When Mark Zuckerberg went to Capitol Hill earlier in the year I knew Facebook was in serious trouble.

Ostensibly, he was there to apologize to us about how Facebook used customer data so cavalierly.

But, really he was there to explain how everything had gone so wrong.

Facebook was designed to be the enforcer of social norms pushed by the political and corporate establishment.

It was built with Wall Street’s decade-long access to cost-free money to invest in the technologies to create a voluntary layer of social control.

The Fed is pulling back the punchbowl and Wall St. already cashed out most if its chips, leaving the retail “muppets” holding the bag.

Facebook, along with Twitter and Google, were outsourced by the real power brokers to erect a web of censorship platforms which circumvent the 1st amendment, because they are ‘private’ companies.

Like Alex Jones or hate him, he brings a lot of traffic to Facebook.  Traffic the company doesn’t want, apparently.

It doesn’t need people who like Alex Jones…

But they still want your data.  

Just like the payment processors Stripe, PayPal and VISA are all private companies which can kick you off their platform and deny you a business and a livelihood because you’re not ‘woke’ enough.

The blockchain will fix this in the future, but right now things are dicey at best.  People like me are very vulnerable to running afoul of these people.

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But, like I told my subscribers last fall, the moment of Peak Facebook would arrive soon enough.

Why?

Because it’s all fake interactions by increasingly fake personas we have to erect lest we get shouted at by someone looking for a dragons to slay to bring meaning to their otherwise pointless lives.

And sometimes those people are our very best friends.

To continue reading: Facebook – The Anti-Social Network

Is the End of Facebook Nigh? by Tom Luongo

If Facebook contacts are a big part of your life, condolences are in order. Are people figuring out that social media is not particularly social, especially compared to what used to be called socializing pre-social media? From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

Last fall I warned you Facebook has a fundamental problem.

More and more people were realizing it and it would have an effect on the company’s business going forward.

Here’s the jist of it:

…the biggest problem with Facebook is it’s all fake intimacy; a pale simulacra of real life interactions with people you are supposed to care about.

But, I don’t care about 99% of the people I went to high school with.  I went to college 1100 miles from those people and barely looked back.  The people I truly value from that part of my life mostly feel about Facebook the way I do.

That’s what makes them people I value.

They value the value of their closely-held opinions and don’t dilute it by publicly sharing their banality.  They realize that being friends is more than dropping political stink bombs in someone’s digital living room and saying, “I dare you to not breathe.”

So, here you are on a platform that is supposed to be all about you and the last thing anyone really wants to be on Facebook is … themselves.

In the November 2017 issue of the Gold Goats ‘n Guns Investment Newsletter I led off that issue with this criticism of Facebook as a reason the company would soon hit the proverbial customer wall:

Facebook was built on the false premise that we want to be in contact with all of the people we ever met ALL THE TIME.  But no, we really don’t.  We all, as T.S. Eliot put it, “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.”

We are all different people depending on our venue.  Public social networks force us to adopt one persona or face the wrath of the self-righteous.

A billion plus people who are all wrong on the internet.  In real time.  Lovely!

Social media is taxing.  It’s fundamentally poor quality social interaction.  It’s either endless moral preening and virtue signaling or a time-wasting diversion.

That’s not to say I don’t love a good cat video, because I do.

To continue reading: Is the End of Facebook Nigh?

No one has ever lost this much money in all of human history, by Simon Black

One stock, Facebook, went down 25 percent in a few hours of trading after the close. What does that mean for the equity market? From Simon Black at sovereignman.com:

As you you’ve no doubt seen by now, shares of Facebook plunged around 19% this morning.

In fact it was down as much as 25% in after-hours trading, wiping out $120 billion of wealth in a matter of minutes.

To be clear, that is the largest single-day loss of value ever seen in the history of the world.

(And Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth fell by $17 billion as a result… though I doubt he’s going to be missing too many meals anytime soon.)

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The company announced disappointing earnings and slowing growth, which spooked investors.

And while most of the mainstream media is focused on what this means for Facebook and other tech stocks, I’m much more concerned about what this means for -all- assets.

In fact, I think today marks a MAJOR turning point for the “everything bull market” that’s been going on for ten years.

Stocks in particular have been rising for years, led primarily by the most popular “FAANG” tech companies– Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google.

These companies have been pushed to absurd limits.

Netflix is always a great example: the company loses billions of dollars each year and burns through shareholders’ money, yet the market has constantly pushed its stock to new heights.

Then one day Netflix reported less-than-stellar growth, and the stock tanked. Poof. Billions of dollars of shareholder wealth vanished in an instant.

Now it’s happened to Facebook.

This is an important lesson: when a bubble bursts, there can be a lot of pain… very quickly.

By the way, it’s useful to point out that the FAANG companies have essentially been propping up the entire stock market.

To continue reading: No one has ever lost this much money in all of human history

Democratic Congressman: “Looks Like Zuckerberg Lied To Congress”, by Tyler Durden

This probably won’t effect Mark Zuckerberg’s rumored plans to run for office. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Responding to a report in the New York Times which revealed Facebook gave at least 60 major device manufacturers unprecedented access to user data, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline (RI) tweeted on Sunday: “Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have “complete control” over who sees our data on Facebook,” adding “This needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable.

The Times reported Sunday evening that Facebook gave at least 60 major device manufacturers access to user data over the last decade – including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung – as part of a data-sharing partnership program which allowed the companies to integrate various features such as messaging and “like” buttons into their products.

The agreement has allowed manufacturers to access information on relationship status, calendar events, political affiliations and religion, among other things. An Apple spokesman, for example, said that the company relied on private access to Facebook data to allow users to post on the social network without opening the Facebook app, among other things.

Even more disturbing, the manufacturers were able to access the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, despite Facebook declaring they would not let outside companies access user data. The catch? The NYT explains.

Facebook’s view that the device makers are not outsiders lets the partners go even further, The Times found: They can obtain data about a user’s Facebook friends, even those who have denied Facebook permission to share information with any third parties.

In interviews, several former Facebook software engineers and security experts said they were surprised at the ability to override sharing restrictions. –NYT

It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said Ashkan Soltani, a research and privacy consultant and former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

To continue reading: Democratic Congressman: “Looks Like Zuckerberg Lied To Congress”