Home » Posts tagged 'social media'

Tag Archives: social media

Olduvai
Click on image to purchase

Olduvai III: Catacylsm
Click on image to purchase

Post categories

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.

ChristopherWylie.jpg
‘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.

RCMPSurveillanceMonitors.jpg
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:

Goodbye to the Internet: Interference by Governments Is Already Here

Goodbye to the Internet: Interference by Governments Is Already Here

Goodbye to the Internet: Interference by Governments Is Already Here

There is a saying attributed to the French banker Nathan Rothschild that “Give me control of a nation’s money and I care not who makes its laws.” Conservative opinion in the United States has long suspected that Rothschild was right and there have been frequent calls to audit the Federal Reserve Bank based on the presumption that it has not always acted in support of the actual interests of the American people. That such an assessment is almost certainly correct might be presumed based on the 2008 economic crash in which the government bailed out the banks, which had through their malfeasance caused the disaster, and left individual Americans who had lost everything to face the consequences.

Be that as it may, if there were a modern version of the Rothschild comment it might go something like this: “Give me control of the internet and no one will ever more know what is true.” The internet, which was originally conceived of as a platform for the free interchange of information and opinions, is instead inexorably becoming a managed medium that is increasingly controlled by corporate and government interests. Those interests are in no way answerable to the vast majority of the consumers who actually use the sites in a reasonable and non-threatening fashion to communicate and share different points of view.

The United States Congress started the regulation ball rolling when it summoned the chief executives of the leading social media sites in the wake of the 2016 election. It sought explanations regarding why and how the Russians had allegedly been able to interfere in the election through the use of fraudulent accounts to spread information that might have influenced some voters.

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

Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

Social Media Companies “Struggle” to Help Censors Keep us in the Dark

According to CNN Business, “Facebook, YouTube and Twitter struggle to deal with New Zealand shooting video.”

“Deal with” is code for “censor on demand by governments and activist organizations who oppose public access to information that hasn’t first been thoroughly vetted for conformity to their preferred narrative.”

Do you really need to see first-person video footage of an attacker murdering 49 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand?

Maybe not. Chances are pretty good you didn’t even want to. I suspect that many of us who did (I viewed what appeared to be a partial copy before YouTube deleted it) would rather we could un-see it.

But whether or not we watch it should be up to us, not those governments and activists. Social media companies should enable our choices, not suppress our choices at the censors’ every whim.

If Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube had been primary news sources in 1915, would they have permitted us to view footage  (rare, as film was in its early days)  of New Zealanders’ desperate fight at Gallipoli?

How about the attack on Pearl Harbor?

The assassination of president John F. Kennedy?

The second plane hitting the World Trade Center.

Lucinda Creighton of the Counter Extremism Project complains to CNN that the big social media firms aren’t really “cooperating and acting in the best interest of citizens to remove this content.”

The CEP claims that it “counter[s] the narrative of extremists” and  works to “reveal the extremist threat.”  How does demanding that something be kept hidden “counter” or “reveal” it? How is it in “the best of interest of citizens” to only let those citizens see what Lucinda Creighton thinks they should be allowed to see?

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

Social Media, Universal Basic Income, and Cashless Society: How China’s Social Credit System Is Coming To America

Social Media, Universal Basic Income, and Cashless Society: How China’s Social Credit System Is Coming To America

Some well-informed Americans may be aware of China’s horrifying “Social Credit System” that was recently unveiled as a method of eradicating any dissent in the totalitarian state. Essentially freezing out anyone who does not conform to the state’s version of the ideal citizen, the SCS is perhaps the most frightening control system being rolled out today. That is, until you consider what is coming next.

Unbeknownst to most people, there appears to be a real attempt to create a system in which all citizens are rationed their “wages” digitally each month in place of a paycheck, including the ability to gain or lose money. This system would see any form of dissent resulting in the cut off of those credits and the ability to work, eat, or even exist in society. It would not only be the end of dissent but of any semblance of real individuality.

Here’s how the Social Credit System operates in China.

First, however, for those who are unaware of the Social Credit System as it operates in China, we should briefly describe just what has taken place there. The Social Credit System in China isn’t merely a punishment for criticizing the state as is the case in most totalitarian regimes, the SCS can bring the hammer down for even the slightest infraction such as smoking in a non-smoking zone.

One summary of the SCS can be found in Business Insider’s article by Alexandra Ma entitled “China has started ranking citizens with a creepy ‘social credit’ system — here’s what you can do wrong, and the embarrassing, demeaning ways they can punish you,” where Ma writes,

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

The Real Problem Is the Politicization of Everything

The Real Problem Is the Politicization of Everything

The Covington Catholic High School fiasco that has developed over the last weeks has shown more than ever why many are skeptical about the media these days. Facts and context — the reality on the ground — were put in the background in favor of a fable that confirmed a political allegory.

What is most shocking is that in today’s world, this is not an exception anymore. Much blame may be shifted to social media as a phenomenon that makes people feel safe in the anonymity of the online world and thus less inhibited than they would otherwise be. Still, the Covington Catholic saga is simply a symptom of a much bigger problem: the politicization of society — or, indeed, everything in life.

Needless to say, politicization is not new. But it feels as though, in today’s dramatically polarized climate, it is more extreme than in decades before. The Gillette ad, perhaps the only other “news story” that has garnered as much attention as Covington Catholic this year, is a prime example: regardless of what one thinks of it in the end, the question needs to be put forward why Gillette even thought it necessary to make a political statement in a commercial for razors. One needs to ask, to mention another example, why Ben & Jerry’s ever felt the need to launch a new ice creamnamed for “the Resistance.”

Consumed and Blinded

These days, it seems almost an impossibility to meet family and loved ones and not discuss Trump, Brexit, or the European elections. It seems unavoidable to be quickly judged by other humans not by your character but your political views. Everyone who is generally a Trump supporter has to be a fascist with whom one cannot interact anymore. Everyone who is generally a Democrat has to be a socialist or member of the elite with whom one cannot interact anymore.

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

Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump/Russia Story

Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump/Russia Story

BUZZFEED WAS ONCE notorious for traffic-generating “listicles”, but has since become an impressive outlet for deep investigative journalism under editor-in-chief Ben Smith. That outlet was prominently in the news this week thanks to its “bombshell” story about President Trump and Michael Cohen: a story that, like so many others of its kind, blew up in its face, this time when the typically mute Robert Mueller’s office took the extremely rare step to label its key claims “inaccurate.”

But in homage to BuzzFeed’s past viral glory, following are the top ten worst media failures in two-plus-years of Trump/Russia reporting. They are listed in reverse order, as measured by the magnitude of the embarrassment, the hysteria they generated on social media and cable news, the level of journalistic recklessness that produced them, and the amount of damage and danger they caused. This list was extremely difficult to compile in part because news outlets (particularly CNN and MSNBC) often delete from the internet the video segments of their most embarrassing moments. Even more challenging was the fact that the number of worthy nominees is so large that highly meritorious entrees had to be excluded, but are acknowledged at the end with (dis)honorable mention status.

Note that all of these “errors” go only in one direction: namely, exaggerating the grave threat posed by Moscow and the Trump circle’s connection to it. It’s inevitable that media outlets will make mistakes on complex stories. If that’s being done in good faith, one would expect the errors would be roughly 50/50 in terms of the agenda served by the false stories.

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
Click on image to purchase