Tag Archives: Facebook

The Friendly Faces of Fascism, by Robert Gore

Like flies drawn to steaming manure, tycoons are drawn to politics and government, all in the interests of a better world, of course.

There are two modes of human interaction: voluntary and involuntary. The symbol of the former is the market; the symbol of the latter is government. Historically, the pendulum has swung back and forth. Since the early 1900s the pendulum has swung towards government and the involuntary. Humanity’s future hinges on whether or not it will swing back. Ominously, many of the biggest beneficiaries of voluntary free choice are ideologically opposed to it.

It may seem paradoxical that Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Tim Cook, among others, build fortunes on the voluntary choices of billions of customers, then join forces with those aligned against voluntary choice. Silicon Valley used to be almost a libertarian outpost, now it’s a bastion of statism. However, there are skewed rationales for it, lodged in the nature of government and business in the 21st century, psychology, and historical precedent.

Government has become so big and all-pervasive that once a business reaches a certain size, it’s going to run into the behemoth blob. Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft are huge, and aside from Apple, they dominate their markets. (Apple had a little under 15 percent of the smart phone market in the first quarter of 2017). Computers and the internet are at the heart of the national security state, and Facebook, Google, Apple, and Microsoft are the heart of social media, search, smartphones, communications, and business computing. Along with Amazon, they all have significant roles in cloud data storage. In its voracious quest for information with which to track, blackmail, and subjugate the citizenry, it was inevitable the government would turn to these treasure troves.

How does a company say no to the FBI, the CIA, the Department of Defense, the NSA, and other intrusive government agencies? With difficulty. The “war on terrorism and drugs” rhetoric probably doesn’t cut any mustard, but as Senator Chuck Schumer said, the agencies, “have six ways from Sunday at getting back at you.” You get along by going along. Large shareholders—hedge, pension, and mutual funds—and the corporate collections of cowards known as boards of directors would take a dim view of a CEO who for ideological reasons fought a quixotic and ultimately unprofitable battle with the federal government over something as trivial as a principle.

Let’s not forget that the government has $4 trillion a year to throw around. Amazon received a $600 million dollar contract from the CIA in 2013. Tucked into the latest National Defense Authorization Act is an amendment authorizing $54 billion in online purchases by the government. Amazon will undoubtedly get the lion’s share. The government buys billions of dollars worth of computer and smart phone hardware and software every year. It also buys a lot of advertising, and Facebook and Google are the dominant online advertising platforms. You have to keep a customer that large satisfied.

Beyond payola, there’s publicity, prestige, pride, politics, and power. The first thing you do once you’ve acquired your tens of billions is set up a tax-exempt foundation. Founder and foundation then dive head first into the pool of altruistic goop into which anyone who acquires any measure of fame and fortune in contemporary America dives. It simply won’t do to say you’ve accomplished all you’ve accomplished for yourself. You must find a cause greater than yourself and proclaim your devotion to it.

That incantation serves several purposes. Bill Gates transformed from evil monopolist to philanthropic saint after he established his foundation and retired from Microsoft to devote his efforts full-time to it. Once you’ve acquired the halo, you’re ready to grab the power to which you’re wealth and superior intellect entitle you. Like flies drawn to steaming manure, tycoons are drawn to politics and government, all in the interests of a better world, of course.

There’s nothing new about this. In America, the prototype is John D. Rockefeller. He used state of the art refining technology, ruthless negotiating tactics, industrial consolidation, bribery, and governmental suppression of competitors to become the nation’s first billionaire. Rockefeller was a charter member of the oligarchy that guided the US into central banking, the income tax, foreign interventionism, and its nascent empire in the first few decades of the 1900s. His foundation sheltered his fortune from taxes, gave a bunch of money to worthy causes, burnished his image, augmented his power, and promoted world government organs like the Council on Foreign Relations and, after his death, the Trilateral Commission.

Anyone who gets involved with the behemoth blob wants power, the ability to use force to direct the actions of others. Any shred of a morality that recoils at coercively exacting involuntary compliance is abandoned. Involvement with the corrupt obscenity that is our government means either a conscious or unconscious surrender to the Dark Side paradigm: might makes the only wrong and right.

At the heart of it lies a simple truth: governments can anything they want to you if they claim they’re doing it for you. The altruistic veneer conceals every horror, from history’s bloodthirstiest regimes down to nanny state bureaucrats dictating toilets’ flush capacity. A warm place in hell is reserved for those who covet power under cover of professed good intentions. The hottest fires are reserved for those give it to them, surrendering without protest control of their own lives.

Once the government has assumed control, the entrepreneurs and executives of ostensibly private businesses toe the government’s line. It’s the only way to survive and indeed thrive under fascism, the correct label for the current system. All under cover of noble aims and approved good causes, of course. In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand drew a sharp distinction between her competent champions of freedom and the incompetent toadies of soul-crushing altruism, collectivism, and statism. In real life freedom’s biggest beneficiaries have become some of its biggest—because of their competence and gargantuan fortunes— enemies.

The gravest threats to the most basic civil liberties—freedom of thought, expression, and transaction—come from the technology giants. Not simply because they’re the dominant commercial, communications and computing platforms, but because they’ve aligned themselves with the government. They’re engaging in creeping censorship, gathering massive amounts of data, cooperating with the surveillance state, and propagating propaganda. Call it the Orwellian or Panopticon state: Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft will be invaluable in establishing it. We’re at least halfway there. No surprise that these companies have been stock market leaders. It’s the first rule of fascist investing: buy the companies the government favors.

Italian economist and philosopher Vilfredo Pareto (1848-1923) argued that regardless of the label given to a system of government, a ruling class always emerges and enriches itself. There are no historical counterexamples, certainly not 2017 America. What’s historically unprecedented, however, is the power and control America’s technological oligarchy can potentially exercise, and the relative weakness of those who champion freedom and warn of impending involuntary servitude. The louder the oligarchs proclaim their good intentions and hail tomorrow’s better world, the graver the threat becomes.

The Story of a Man Who

Did It For Himself

AMAZON

KINDLE

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I’ve Been Banned From Facebook For Sharing An Article About False Flags, by Caitlin Johnstone

Facebook does what the powers that be want it to do. The next SLL post will be the article that got Ms. Johnstone booted. Let’s see if SLL gets the boot, too. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

My personal Facebook account, which has the maximum 5,000 friends and an additional 5,000+ followers, has been blocked from posting for three days. My page hasn’t been blocked yet, but we’ll see; I shared the article there, too.

The reason given for this ban by the little pop-up boxes when I logged on just now was that a couple months ago I had shared an article about admitted false flag operations perpetrated by governments around the world. I don’t know what happened that made Facebook’s system decide to crack down on me now all of a sudden, but I do know I’ve been a bit naughtier than usual in my last couple of articles.

The article I got the banhammer for sharing is titled For Those Who Don’t ‘Believe’ In ‘Conspiracies’ Here Are 58 Admitted False Flag Attacks. According to the site’s ticker it has 50,667 shares as of this writing. It’s laden with hyperlinks for further reading, and lists only instances of false flag operations that insiders are on the record as having admitted to themselves. It’s a good compilation of important information. People should be allowed to share it.

The notifications say I can be permanently banned if I continue posting that sort of material. I’ve had that account since 2007.

So. Who wants to see my Barbra Streisand impression?

In a corporatist system of government, corporate censorship is state censorship. When there’s no meaningful space between corporate power and government power, it doesn’t make much difference whether the guy silencing your dissent is Mark Zuckerberg or Jeff Sessions. America most definitely has such a system.

To continue reading: I’ve Been Banned From Facebook For Sharing An Article About False Flags

De-FANGed: Five Ways The Disrupters Could Be Disrupted, by Tyler Durden

Everybody loves the FANG stocks: Facebook, both Apple and Amazon for the A, Netflix, and Google (now Alphabet). That may not last. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

We highlighted the launch of the ICE FANG futures contract earlier this week (here) and what an auspicious moment it was for the launch.

The argument put forward by our guest author, Kevin Muir via The Macro Tourist blog, was that it is possible to be “bearish on the FANG stocks, but not be some perma-bear who thinks the world is about to collapse”. As Muir explained.

The reality of today’s limited alpha market is that when an investing theme gets some legs, it often becomes overdone and prone to disappointment. I have written about how, all too often, this results in a series of rolling mini-bubbles. There is nothing wrong with observing that the new era tech stocks are stupidly overbought, and that the risks are to the downside in the coming months. You can be bearish on FANG without thinking all stocks are going to zero…This new FANG contract offers some great opportunities to short the speculative names that have been the source of such over-exuberance, while maybe hedging it with a long position in the S&P 500 futures contract.
Muir commented wryly that now he would be able to get in as much trouble as high-profile bear, David Eeinhorn of Greenlight Capital by buying “old economy stocks and shorting the new tech darlings.” Another investor, with more than one gray hair of experience, has penned a thoughtful bearish piece on the FANGs in recent days, this time Neil Dwayne of Allianz Global Investors. Dwane’s piece is titled “De-FANGed: 5 Ways the Disrupters Could be Disrupted.” Dwane begins by noting that while consumers love the services they provide, the regulators are taking an increasingly close look at their anti-competitive practices.

Facespook! Social Media Giant Becomes Arm of US intel, by Finian Cunningham

Social media is becoming as corrupt and coopted by the government as mainstream media. From Finian Cunningham at RT News via lewrockwell.com:

Facebook, the world’s top social media platform, is reportedly seeking to hire hundreds of employees with US national security clearance licenses.

Purportedly with the aim of weeding out “fake news” and “foreign meddling” in elections.

If that plan, reported by Bloomberg, sounds sinister, that’s because it is. For what it means is that people who share the same worldview as US intelligence agencies, the agencies who formulate classified information, will have a direct bearing on what millions of consumers on Facebook are permitted to access.

It’s as close to outright US government censorship on the internet as one can dare to imagine, and this on a nominally independent global communication network. Your fun-loving place “where friends meet.”

Welcome to Facespook!

As Bloomberg reports: “Workers with such [national security] clearances can access information classified by the US government. Facebook plans to use these people – and their ability to receive government information about potential threats – in the company’s attempt to search more proactively for questionable social media campaigns ahead of elections.”

A Facebook spokesman declined to comment, but the report sounds credible, especially given the context of anti-Russia hysteria.

Over the past year, since the election of Donald Trump as US president, the political discourse has been dominated by “Russia-gate” – the notion that somehow Kremlin-controlled hackers and news media meddled in the election. The media angst in the US is comparable to the Red Scare paranoia of the 1950s during the Cold War.

Facebook and other US internet companies have been hauled in front of Congressional committees to declare what they know about alleged “Russian influence campaigns.” Chief executives of Facebook, Google, and Twitter, are due to be questioned again next month by the same panels.

To continue reading; Facespook! Social Media Giant Becomes Arm of US intel

“No Devilishly Effective Plot” – Clinton Chief Strategist Admits “You Can’t Buy The Presidency For $100,000”, by Mark Penn

Even the Democrats are admitting Russiagate is bunk. From Mark Penn (former chief strategist on Bill Clinton’s 1996 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton’s 2000 Senate campaign, and Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign), via The Wall Street Journal via zerohedge.com:

Russia didn’t win Trump the White House any more than China re-elected Bill Clinton in 1996.

The fake news about fake news is practically endless. Americans worried about Russia’s influence in the 2016 election have seized on a handful of Facebook ads—as though there weren’t also three 90-minute debates, two televised party conventions, and $2.4 billion spent on last year’s campaign. The danger is that bending facts to fit the Russia story line may nudge Washington into needlessly and recklessly regulating the internet and curtailing basic freedoms.

After an extensive review, Facebook has identified $100,000 of ads that came from accounts associated with Russia. Assume for the sake of argument that Vladimir Putin personally authorized this expenditure. Given its divisive nature, the campaign could be dubbed “From Russia, With Hate”—except it would make for a disappointing James Bond movie.

Analyzing the pattern of expenditures, and doing some back-of-the-envelope math, it’s clear this was no devilishly effective plot. Facebook says 56% of the ads ran after the election, reducing the tally that could have influenced the result to about $44,000. It also turns out the ads were not confined to swing states but also shown in places like New York, California and Texas. Supposing half the ads went to swing states brings the total down to $22,000.

Facebook also counted ads as early as June 2015. Assuming they were evenly spread and we want only those that ran the year of the election, that knocks it down to $13,000. Most of the ads did not solicit support for a candidate and carried messages on issues like racism, immigration and guns. The actual electioneering then amounts to about $6,500.

To continue reading: “No Devilishly Effective Plot” – Clinton Chief Strategist Admits “You Can’t Buy The Presidency For $100,000

Wells Fargo’s Artificial Intelligence Defies Analysts, Slaps “Sell” on Google and Facebook, by Wolf Richter

SLL’s bet is on the artificial, rather than the human, intelligence. From Wolf Richter at wolfstreet.com:

Google, which makes almost all of its money on ads and internet user data, is undertaking herculean efforts to get a grip on artificial intelligence (AI). It’s trying to develop software that allows machines to think and learn like humans. It’s spending enormous resources on it. This includes the $525 million acquisition in 2014 of DeepMind, which is said to have lost an additional $162 million in 2016. Google is trying to load smartphones with AI and come up with AI smart speakers and other gadgets, and ultimately AI systems that control self-driving cars.

Facebook, which also makes most of its money on ads and user data, is on a similar trajectory, but spreading into other directions, including a “creepy” run-in with two of its bots that were supposed to negotiate with each other but ended up drifting off human language and invented their own languagethat humans couldn’t understand.

And here comes an AI bot developed by stock analysts at Wells Fargo Securities. The human analysts have an “outperform” rating on Google’s parent Alphabet and on Facebook. They worked with a data scientist at Amazon’s Alexa project to create the AI bot. And after six months of work, the AI bot was allowed to do its job. According to their note to clients on Friday, reported by Bloomberg, the AI bot promptly slapped a “sell” rating on Google and Facebook.

Human analysts on Wall Street are famous for their incessantly optimistic ratings and outlooks. They generally only put a “sell” on a stock after it has already plunged. They’re part of Wall Street’s human hype machine. Their job is to help inflate stock prices and make CEOs feel good so that they will do business with the analysts’ firms and send fees their way. But Wells Fargo’s AI bot hasn’t gotten the memo.

Last month, a group led by Ken Sena, head of Global Internet Analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, introduced this “artificially intelligent equity research analyst” or AIERA. Its “primary purpose is to track stocks and formulate a daily, weekly, and overall view on whether the stocks tracked will go up or down,” Sena, said at the time.

So “she” did Big Data analysis of Alphabet, Facebook, and some other stocks, and after seeing what’s there, averted her eyes in disgust and slapped a “sell” recommendation on both stocks and a “hold” recommendation on 11 other cherished stocks.

To continue reading; Wells Fargo’s Artificial Intelligence Defies Analysts, Slaps “Sell” on Google and Facebook

Leaked Descriptions Of Infamous “Russia Ads” Derail Collusion Narrative “They Showed Support For Clinton”, by Tyler Durden

“Russian-linked” groups supposedly spent up to $150,000 on Facebook ads and it derailed poor Hillary’s presidential campaign. Never mind that at least $1 billion was spent on the campaign. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

That was quick.

Less than a week after Facebook agreed to turn over to Congressional investigators copies of the 3,000-odd political advertisements that the company said it had inadvertently sold to a Russia-linked group intent on meddling in the 2016 presidential election, the contents of the ads have – unsurprisingly – leaked, just as we had expected them to.

Congressional investigators shared the information with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team, which has repeatedly allowed information about its investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russian operatives to leak to the press. Once this happened, we knew it was only a matter of time before the ads became part of the public record.

And, shockingly, descriptions of the ads provided to the Washington Post hardly fit the narrative that Democratic lawmakers have spun in recent weeks, claiming the ads – which didn’t advocate on behalf of a specific candidate, but rather hewed to political issues like abortion rights – were instrumental in securing Trump’s victory.

After initially denying the story this spring, Facebook came clean earlier this month, saying its investigators had discovered that the company sold at least $100,000 worth of ads – and possibly as much as $150,000 – to Russia-linked group that bought the ads through 470 phony Facebook pages and accounts.

WaPo reports that the ads represented issues on both sides of the ideological spectrum, which would suggest that the buyers didn’t intend to support a specific candidate, but rather their own unique agenda.

The batch of more than 3,000 Russian-bought ads that Facebook is preparing to turn over to Congress shows a deep understanding of social divides in American society, with some ads promoting African-American rights groups including Black Lives Matter and others suggesting that these same groups pose a rising political threat, say people familiar with the covert influence campaign.

The Russian campaign — taking advantage of Facebook’s ability to simultaneously send contrary messages to different groups of users based on their political and demographic characteristics – also sought to sow discord among religious groups. Other ads highlighted support for Democrat Hillary Clinton among Muslim women.

To continue reading: Leaked Descriptions Of Infamous “Russia Ads” Derail Collusion Narrative “They Showed Support For Clinton”