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How we can avert our society’s drift toward disaster by charting a different course

How we can avert our society’s drift toward disaster by charting a different course

Castro Street, the main drag in downtown Mountain View, California, my hometown, the birthplace of Silicon Valley and the headquarters of Google.

In 2015, I began experiencing the world in a different, less enjoyable way. It started with occasional bouts of nervousness that I didn’t recognize as anxiety — because I’d never experienced clinical anxiety before. In fact, 2015 was preceded by the happiest, most fulfilling decade of my life. 

These bouts, while only occasional, were significant enough that I began to question myself, the world around me, and my relationship to it in a deeper way than normal.

Next, that anxiety was deepened by dramatic changes on Facebook. I had been a heavy user since co-founding Shareable six years earlier. My Facebook feed became flooded with ridiculous, obviously false “news” stories that were clearly designed to shock or enrage. The high volume and low quality of these articles were deeply puzzling. Why were people sharing such crap? And why was Facebook allowing it to proliferate? 

In response, I changed my Facebook settings to limit my exposure. However, I missed the bigger picture — that billions of people were likely experiencing the same toxic brew, and that could have dramatic, society-scale consequences. 

This was just before the 2016 U.S. presidential election, which, along with #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, and the rise of the alt right and identity politics, laid bare deep social divisions that added to my unease. Social and other media not only exposed divisions based on gender, class, race, religion, geography, and ideology, they seemed to make them worse. The U.S. was not alone in experiencing upheaval. The U.K., for one, began its meltdown over Brexit around this time. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Blacklist Valley: How Big Tech reshapes politics by censoring conservative ideas

Blacklist Valley: How Big Tech reshapes politics by censoring conservative ideas

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For better or worse, social media is the new public square. Of adults, 68% use Facebook, 73% use YouTube, and a quarter use Twitter. The numbers are much higher for adults under 50. Two-thirds of adults and roughly 4 in 5 under 50 use social media to consume news. Three-quarters of Facebook users are on the site every day, and Twitter users have a disproportionate influence on the media because so many journalists are on the service. 

The size and scale of social media companies exploded primarily because they presented themselves as open platforms — blank slates. Google, Facebook, and Twitter all characterized their products as engines for social improvement. “We think of Twitter as the global town hall,” said former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo. “We are the free speech wing of the free speech party.” 

Costolo was Twitter’s chief executive from 2010 until 2015 and the immediate predecessor of current CEO Jack Dorsey. Twitter’s general manager in the United Kingdom, Andy Yang, likewise described Twitter as the “free speech wing of the free speech party” in March 2012. Google became a multibillion-dollar company by offering a portal for free, unrestricted information to anyone with access to the internet; famously, its original motto was “Don’t be evil.” An internal Facebook memo circulated in June 2016 stated that at Facebook, “we believe in connecting people so deeply that anything that allows us to connect more people more often is de facto good.” 

The public has given these three tech companies (and others) enormous power to select the information we read, share, and discuss with our neighbors and friends. We’ve gotten so accustomed to the role they play in our lives that we fail to notice that Big Tech is sifting through the available information and narrowing, and prioritizing, our choices.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran Again Blocks Internet & Mobile Service Ahead Of Protesters’ Funerals

Iran Again Blocks Internet & Mobile Service Ahead Of Protesters’ Funerals 

Fearing the potential for renewed protests and violent clashes with police, Iran has again blocked internet and mobile access to broad section of the country on Wednesday.  

This as several funerals will be held over the coming days for protesters killed last month amid a severe government crackdown, which also witness an unprecedented nationwide internet blockage which lasted for a week or more in some provinces. 

Citing Iranian state media, Bloomberg reports, “The mourning services are scheduled to begin on Thursday. The independent Shargh newspaper said five unidentified provinces will be subject to the blackout, while ILNA said internet users in those areas will have access to a limited number of state-approved Iran websites and applications.”

Protesters last month torched gas stations and banks, angry at a sudden massive gas price hike, which turned anti-government, via The Guardian. 

Government authorities are reportedly acting in response to relatives of some among the killed who have posted to social media calling for renewed protests to be held on Thursday in conjunction with ceremonies commemorating the victims (various estimates put those killed from the November protests ranging from 200 to over 300, with the US State Dept. claiming multiple times that number).

The US as well as various human rights organizations have accused Tehran authorities of quelling protests — initially sparked by a huge gas price hike when subsidies were slashed — with live ammunition and other brutal tactics. 

Thus it appears the government is making a move to prevent large-scale protests before they gain momentum. State-run ILNA said of the mobile and internet blockage: “According to this source, it is possible that more provinces will be affected by the shutdown of mobile international connectivity,” after it appeared to spread on Wednesday.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The Rise of Tech Totalitarianism Michael Rectenwald’s GOOGLE ARCHIPELAGO

The Rise of Tech Totalitarianism Michael Rectenwald’s GOOGLE ARCHIPELAGO

The Wall Street Journal just published a shocking expose, How Google Interferes With Its Search Algorithms and Changes Your Results, [by Kirsten Grind, Sam Schechner, Robert McMillan and John West November 15, 2019], revealing not only that Google is exploiting its market power in ways the clearly raise anti-trust questions, but also that it shadow-bans sites that promote “hate or violence” even if “expressed in polite or even academic-sounding language”—i.e. VDARE.com and all immigration patriots. This confirms the terrifying message of Michael Rectenwald’s new book  Google Archipelago: The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom: the combination of Woke Capital and monopoly power is turning America into an open-air prison.

Rectenwald is a liberal academic who was chased out of New York University for dissenting mildly from the “pronoun wars” and the Leftist demand for blanket approval of transgenderism [I was a liberal NY prof, but when I said the left was going too far, colleagues called be a NAZI & treated me like a RUSSIAN SPY, RT, November 12, 2019]. In his book, he shows the Left is consumed by collective hysteria, a theme with which VDARE.com readers are familiar, and also that the ideology of “Corporate Socialism” and the emerging “Internet of Things” is making it impossible to escape from a repressive system.

Rectenwald lays out several terms that encapsulate his ideas—the eponymous Google Archipelago, Big Digital, Corporate Socialism, Google Marxism, etc.

  • The “Google Archipelago” is “the corporate leftist centralized system of Big Digital.”
  • “Big Digital” is the “mega-data services, media, cable, and internet services, social media platforms, Artificial Intelligence (AI) Agents, apps, and the developing Internet of Things” [the increasing ability and dependence of ordinary applications of operating online].

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights As Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Social Media Censorship Reaches New Heights As Twitter Permanently Bans Dissent

Mnar Muhawesh, founder, CEO and editor in chief of MintPress News, speaks with journalist Daniel McAdams about being permanently banned from Twitter, social media censorship and more.

It’s an open secret. The deep state is working hand in hand with Silicon Valley social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Google to control the flow of information. That includes suppressing, censoring and sometimes outright purging dissenting voices – all under the guise of fighting fake news and Russian propaganda.

Most recently, it was revealed that Twitter’s senior editorial executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa is an active officer in the British Army’s 77th Brigade, a unit dedicated to online warfare and psychological operations.

In other words: he specializes in disseminating propaganda.

The news left many wondering how a member of the British Armed Forces secured such an influential job in the media.

The bombshell that one of the world’s most influential social networks is controlled in part by an active psychological warfare officer was not covered at all in the New York TimesCNNCNBCMSNBC or Fox News, who appear to have found the news unremarkable.

But for those paying attention and for those who have been following ’MintPress News’ extensive coverage of social media censorship, this revelation was merely another example of the increasing closeness between the deep state and the fourth estate.

Amazon owner, and world’s richest man, Jeff Bezos was paid $600 million by the CIA to develop software and media for the agency, that’s more than twice as much as Bezos bought the Washington Post for, and a move media critics warn spells the end of journalistic independence for the Post.

Meanwhile, Google has a very close relationship with the State Department, its former CEO Eric Schmidt’s book on technological imperialism was heartily endorsed by deep state warmongers like Henry Kissinger, Hillary Clinton and Tony Blair.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Technology Spurs On Our Ability To Deceive

Technology Spurs On Our Ability To Deceive 

Caught between the forces of mainstream media and government propaganda it seems we can believe nothing we see or hear. Much of this problem is rooted in the agendas of large companies and those who control them. These companies have become so big and powerful that they now influence government’s message and direction. Fake news and false flags have left many of us having a difficult time deciding what is real, adding to this is the rapidly growing ability of computers to generate and alter human images. This is all about to go to a whole new level.

Margrethe Vestager, the European Union Antitrust Chief, is busy touting that the EU’s influence gives it the opportunity and power to shape the world. She insists the EU is ready to take on companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon which she contends has used their power to undermine competition, keep out innovation and collect data on us. This has given these companies great power to manipulate society. Google did this when it used the power of its search engine to favor its own comparison shopping service. While the EU  has signaled it is going to make several big companies use their power in a way that’s fair and doesn’t discriminate the fact is this is easier to say than do.

The EU plans to do this by flexing its muscle with a combination of competition policy and regulation changes, however, whether it will be successful remains to be seen. Like many people, I remain dubious. These powerful companies already are overly involved with shaping the message of media and government propaganda are about to unleash upon society a great deal more computer-generated models and images. These have advanced to where they blur reality and diminish the need for humans to act as spokespeople or to represent organizations.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Smart TVs Caught Sending Sensitive User Data To Facebook And Netflix

Smart TVs Caught Sending Sensitive User Data To Facebook And Netflix 

A study by researchers from Northeastern University and Imperial College London found that many popular smart TV models, including models by Samsung and LG, as well as streaming dongles Roku and Amazon FireTV, are leaking sensitive user data to advertisers.

The models listed above would share data like location and IP address with Netflix, Facebook and third-party advertisers, according to the FT.

Just when social media companies were starting to modify their data collection practices to better respect user privacy, the next threat is coming from the Internet of Things (IoT). Smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular in the US.

In some cases, users’ data were being sent to Netflix even though they didn’t have an account. And it’s not just smart TVs: other smart devices from speakers to cameras have also been caught sending user data to third parties like Spotify.

Nearly 70% of Americans have a smart TV or a Roku or Apple TV. Nearly all of these devices have recognition technology that tracks what you watch, and sells data approximating your interests to advertisers.

In a separate study of smart TVs by Princeton University, researchers found that some apps supported by Roku and FireTV were sending data such as specific user identifiers to third parties including Google.

Amazon was one of the third-parties contacted by about half of the devices tested by researchers at Northeastern.

“Amazon is contacted by almost half the devices in our tests, which stands out because [this means] Amazon can infer a lot of information about what you’re doing with different devices in your home, including those they don’t manufacture,” said David Choffnes, computer scientist at Northeastern University and one of the paper’s authors. “They also can have a lot of visibility into what their competitors are doing.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Have You Noticed How Social Media Purges Always Align With The US Empire?

Have You Noticed How Social Media Purges Always Align With The US Empire?

Twitter has suspended multiple large Cuban media accounts for reasons the social media platform has yet to explain as of this writing, a move which journalist Dan Cohen has described as “the equivalent of silencing CNN, Fox, WaPo and NPR’s accounts” for that nation. The Union of Cuban Journalists has denounced the move as censorship.

Last month we saw Twitter suspend hundreds of accounts which it claims originated in mainland China for engaging in “covert, manipulative behaviors” against the Hong Kong protests, with Facebook and Google/YouTube following suit in the creepy, uniform coordination we’ve come to expect between these social media giants. In June of this year Twitter removed thousands of accounts it claims were associated with the governments of Iran, Russia and Venezuela, as well as 130 accounts reportedly tied to the Catalan independence movement in Spain. In May Twitter removed 2,800 of what it claimed were “inauthentic accounts originating in Iran.” Earlier this year, Twitter and Facebook coordinated with each other to remove hundreds of accounts they claim were tied to “coordinated influence operations” in Iran, Russia, and Venezuela.

Cuba, China, Russia, Iran, Venezuela, and the Catalan independence movement. Noticing a pattern here?


Twitter just suspended the accounts of the biggest media outlets in Cuba and has given no reason. This is the equivalent of silencing CNN, Fox, WaPo and NPR’s accounts, but Cuba is a target of the empire so these arbitrary suspensions don’t generate outrage. https://twitter.com/camilatelesur/status/1171929274661658625 …1,858


If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the dynamics of empire, you will immediately recognize all of these purges as having targeted groups which are not aligned with the US-centralized power alliance.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Australia Deploys World’s First Law To Fight Online Extremism

Australia Deploys World’s First Law To Fight Online Extremism 

In the first application of a controversial new law passed in the wake of the March terror attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand, Australian authorities have ordered five websites to remove extremist content or face prosecution, according to the Financial Times. 

The material includes video taken by the Christchurch attacker, as well as videos showing the beheading of a Scandinavian tourist in Morocco. All five sites are based outside Australia, according to the country’s eSafety Commission, which was granted the power to investigate and order the removal of extremist content back in April.

Under the new law, social media companies, websites and even ISPs can be fined up to 10% of their annual revenue, or see their chief executives sent to prison, if they fail to remove  ‘abhorrent’ or ‘extremist’ material.

Julie Inman Grant, Australia’s eSafety commissioner, said on Monday that three of the five websites Canberra was targeting had taken down the offensive material, and no prosecutions had yet been initiated. She said the decision by the three sites showed the potential of threats of prosecution and fines.

“These are fringe websites that revel in gore and hatred. All of them are based overseas,” Inman Grant said.

In a separate move, Canberra ordered Australian ISPs to block access to eight other websites that continued to allow access to the video of the Christchurch attacks or the shooter’s manifesto.

Inman Grant said that while there were jurisdictional challenges involved in overseas prosecutions, “I expect in the next five years we will see a proliferation of similar regulators seeking to do the same thing.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

More Wildfires Are Burning In Angola & Congo Than Brazil

More Wildfires Are Burning In Angola & Congo Than Brazil 

Thanks to a concerted effort by American social media ‘influencers’, everybody and their grandmother is now aware of the fact that wildfires – many of which were allegedly started illegally by farmers seeking to clear out more land for farming or pasture – are tearing through the Amazon.

What many don’t realize is that the wildfires in the ‘lungs of the Earth’ – as French President Emmanuel Macron described the Amazon – actually aren’t that uncommon. In fact, they’re a natural part of the rainforest’s process of self-restoration. In total, this year, fires are up by 83% compared with last year.

And while the rest of the world uses the fires as an excuse to slam Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro and his environmental policies (some have accused him of tacitly condoning the farmers who set the fires), Bloomberg reports that Brazil is actually third in the world in wildfires over the last 48 hours, citing data from the MODIS satellite analyzed by Weather Source.

Weather Source recorded 6,902 fires in Angola over the past 48 hours, 3,395 in the Democratic Republic of Congo and 2,127 in Brazil.

Like in the Amazon and in California, wildfires aren’t all that uncommon in Central Africa.

As for the total number of active wildfires, they’re also nowhere near some of the highs recorded in recent years. According to NASA, more than 67,000 fires were reported in a one-week period in June last year, most of which were started by farmers.

Over the past two days, roughly 16,500 wildfires were recorded in the top 10 countries.

Actually, as far as wildfires go, 2019 isn’t out of the ordinary in any meaningful sense.

But we’re sure the Instagram influencer set will soon clarify all of this in a series of sponsored posts putting the Amazon wildfires in context…right?

She Wrote The Patriot Act. Her Next Job Is With Facebook

She Wrote The Patriot Act. Her Next Job Is With Facebook

Facebook announced Monday that Jennifer Newstead, a Trump appointee who served in the Department of Justice (DoJ) under President Bush, will join the social media company as General Counsel, supervising its global legal functions.

Newstead replaces Colin Stretch, who announced in 3Q18 that he will exit. Stretch will remain with Facebook through the transition phase, expected to be completed in the coming months.

“Jennifer is a seasoned leader whose global perspective and experience will help us fulfill our mission,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer. “We are also truly grateful to Colin for his dedicated leadership and wise counsel over the past nine years. He has played a crucial role in some of our most important projects and has created a strong foundation for Jennifer to build upon.”

Newstead brings a terrifying history of lobbying and legislating for an Orwellian style of mass electronic surveillance of Americans.

The Hill explains she was credited with writing the controversial 2001 Patriot Act, a piece of legislation that stripped Americans of their First and Fourth Amendments in the name of fighting the War on Terror.

In a 2002 statement, Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh described Newstead’s role in drafting the Patriot Act: “Her enhanced leadership duties and her excellent service on a range of issues — including helping craft the new U.S.A. Patriot Act to protect the United States against terror — have earned her this important distinction. She is first among equals.”

Congress enacted the Patriot Act in the wake of September 11, 2001 attacks, the Act expanded the scope of the government’s surveillance powers to investigate terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking. It allowed government investigators to use roving wiretaps and the ability to collect telephone records from US carriers.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Beware the ‘Weaponized’ Web, Says Guy Who Helped Elect Trump

Beware the ‘Weaponized’ Web, Says Guy Who Helped Elect Trump

Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie on Facebook, democracy and hope.

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‘This is what people really have to understand: most people socialize and get their information now on a set of American-owned tech platforms that have no rules.’ Photo from Web Summit, Creative Commons licensed.

Christopher Wylie, of highlighter hair and Cambridge Analytica fame, was in Vancouver this week to talk about “Confronting the Disinformation Age.” 

In 2018, Wylie blew the whistle on Facebook and consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica, cofounded by Trump campaign strategist Steve Bannon, for collecting data without users’ consent. 

The extensive and personal data sets, Wylie said, were used to target people with political messaging that appealed to their specific psychologies. 

“Fashion data was used to build AI models to help Steve Bannon build his insurgency and build the alt-right. And the alt-right is an insurgency,” he said in a presentation last November. “We used weaponized algorithms, we used weaponized cultural narratives to undermine people and undermine their perception of reality.” 

He said the success of the targeting led to Donald Trump’s election win and the Brexit vote.

The Democracy Project wanted to know what the Victoria native had to say about democracy in Canada, and it shared this interview with The Tyee. Our interview was edited for clarity and length.

Zoë Ducklow: Who does democracy work for, and who is left out of the democratic process?

Christopher Wylie: Historically, democracy has worked for people who hold the power of information versus people who become recipients of information. Whether it’s elections or monarchs, the control of what’s allowed to be said or not said in the press has been the central aspect of power.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Austria Wants To Ban Online Anonymity, And Urges The World To Follow In Its Footsteps

Austria Wants To Ban Online Anonymity, And Urges The World To Follow In Its Footsteps

Convinced that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t quite yet have enough user data, Austria is now considering a new law that would require large internet platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to register their users, effectively banning anonymity on social media sites. The new law would be targeted at depriving “those behind hate posts of anonymity,” according to The Local

Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said: “Unfortunately there have been an increasing number of clear violations, denigrations and humiliations online in the past under the cover of anonymity. That’s why we need a framework for more responsibility online.”

But isn’t the anonymous denigration and humiliation of others a founding principle of the internet, and part of what makes it great?

The law, if passed, would go into effect in 2020 and would make it mandatory for users of popular social media sites to register their users. The platforms would have flexibility on how they register their users, but Austria seeks to give its authorities access to a user’s identityin the event of “hate postings or on suspicion of other laws being broken”.

The report didn’t say what, exactly, qualified as a “hate posting”. 

Gernot Bluemel, minister in charge of EU affairs, art, culture and media said: “The online space should not be a space without laws.” He continued, saying that Austria aimed to set a precedent for other countries in the matter.

In Austria, the law would have to be approved by both MPs and the European Commission to ensure that it is in line with EU guidelines that stipulate that member states cannot regulate a platform provider more strictly than its country of origin. The law would only apply to internet platforms with a reach of more than 100,000 users or a turnover of more than 500,000 Euros in Austria. It would also apply to platforms that get more than 50,000 Euros in state aid. 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

RCMP Has Yet to Complete Privacy Assessment on Social Media Surveillance Tech

RCMP Has Yet to Complete Privacy Assessment on Social Media Surveillance Tech

Calling ‘Project Wide Awake’ a test lets police dodge assessments, says BCCLA.

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The RCMP has been monitoring Canadians’ social media use for at least a year, but has yet to file a required report on the impact on personal privacy. Photo from Pixabay.

An RCMP spokesperson said the “Project Wide Awake” program is still in the design stage — which is short of “official” implementation that requires a report on effects to personal privacy.

Micheal Vonn of the BC Civil Liberties Association isn’t surprised. She said a claim that a project is in the design stage is typical of the steps that police use to dodge public accountability checks for new technologies.

Project Wide Awake, first reported by The Tyee, is an RCMP initiative to monitor Canadians’ social media use. The initial claimed use was to respond to existing criminal investigations, but the RCMP expanded the program to use monitoring to prevent potential crimes.

The RCMP has been using social media monitoring software since at least February 2018. But the force has classified the project as in a “design phase” while it is taking steps towards officially implementing it, it stated. 

Canada’s Privacy Commissioner guidelines state that departments “must submit final PIA [privacy impact assessments] before they implement programs or services.” The measure is a safeguard to ensure privacy impacts are assessed before programs are in place. The institution must also prepare a publicly available summary of its findings on the assessments.

The RCMP told The Tyee this month that Project Wide Awake was in the design stage. But it also confirmed the software had been available to the RCMP for criminal investigative and intelligence purposes for more than a year.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

After Pressure on Twitter, Christine Assange’s Account is Restored; Venezuela’s Telesur Now Hit

After Pressure on Twitter, Christine Assange’s Account is Restored; Venezuela’s Telesur Now Hit

UPDATED: The Twitter account of Julian Assange’s mother was restored on Wednesday night after her supporters sent a flood of messages to Twitter.

Telesur English Hit By Same Restrictions

Christine Assange, the mother of WikiLeaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, had her Twitter account restored more than 24 hours after it was abruptly restricted by the social media company.

Hundreds of tweets were sent to the San Francisco-based company by supporters demanding that she regain access to her account.

Ms. Assange tweeted at 10:33 p.m. U.S. Eastern time on Wednesday: “Back on deck! Many thanks to everyone contacting @Twitter on my behalf. Thanks to @Twitter for responding with a reconnect.”

Ms. Assange told Consortium News by phone that she has had no contact with Twitter and still does not know why her account was restricted and precisely why it was restored. She was unable to post new Tweets or read anyone else’s while the restriction was in place.

Outrage at the restriction was expressed by many Assange supporters in tweets to Twitter and its CEO, Jack Dorsey. 

Another supporter wrote: “The only unusual activity is not seeing a mother fight for her child. It’s unnatural and cowardly to think that her tweets are unusual.”

On Thursday, @TelesurEnglish, the Venezuelan state broadcaster’s English service, was hit with the same restrictions by Twitter as had Ms. Assange, who tweeted a complaint about it:

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