Author Topic: The Goolag, Facebook, Youtube, Amazon, Twitter et al: the Orwellian Tech Octopus  (Read 41710 times)

Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #50 on: April 07, 2018, 11:24:25 AM »
"Maybe their excesses will be their downfall."

May their excesses be their downfall.

Crafty_Dog

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ccp

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Crafty_Dog

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« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 09:44:34 AM by Crafty_Dog »

ccp

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #55 on: April 09, 2018, 08:19:17 AM »
I am not sure why but I really detest Zuckerberg and always have.

I don't like Google's Schmidt either.

With there phony political correctness while in effect stealing and selling our personal data.  I certainly was not a fan of their coziness with Obama .

What do we know about *their* personal lives..  How many women did Schmidt pay off to silence them from exposing with regards to  "MeToo "?

For some reason Steve Jobs or Bezos don't bother me.  I admire them and only wish I DID buy Amazon when it dipped to ~ 30 during the tech crash ~2000. 

ccp

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The guy who would be Prez took body language class
« Reply #56 on: April 09, 2018, 09:54:23 AM »
OMG .  He even uses the same body language coach.  Tell me who the lip biting pose reminds you of:

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/facebook-ceo-apologizes-says-company-155501276.html


addendum I don't know what happened to the picture but it was of Zuck biting his lip.

Looked EXACTLY like when Clinton would bite his lip while trying to con us that he was  showing contrition.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 09:09:03 PM by ccp »

G M

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Facehugger spying on even those who didn't consent
« Reply #57 on: April 09, 2018, 08:07:13 PM »
http://ace.mu.nu/archives/374730.php

The surveillance economy.

ccp

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CDC uses social media to predict who is going to give
« Reply #58 on: April 09, 2018, 09:16:29 PM »
syphilis to who  -  my question - ok then what?   

stock the drug stores in a given county with more penicillin.

send fliers to the gays who are  mainly the ones spreading this to be sure to wear their condoms?

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/apr/9/syphilis-outbreaks-predicted-google-searches-tweet/


G M

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http://jackbaruth.com/?p=9609

You May Not Be Interested In Social Credit, But Social Credit Is Interested In You
Posted on April 9, 2018 by Jack Baruth


It’s an idea that is four or five years old now, but the Chinese government is finally taking baby steps towards putting its “social credit” system into production. What is social credit, you ask? Well, it’s a system by which ordinary citizens are rated for their behavior. You can lose points for breaking minor laws, speaking out against the government, or for associating with people who do those things.

Users with high social credit get preferred placement on dating apps, free loaner bicycles, and other benefits. If your social credit is low, on the other hand, you might find yourself unable to buy a business-class travel ticket… or you might find that you have no ability to buy a ticket at all. Your children might be denied access to good schools, and you might be removed from lists of applicants for available jobs. Participation in the system is mandatory for Chinese subjects, er, citizens.

So-called “heritage Americans” rightly view this sort of thing as an utterly horrific abomination, particularly since it is backed by the government itself, but the Chinese don’t share our mistrust of social conditioning or coercive behavior. Look for Social Credit to be a massive success, both for the compliant citizens who score highly under the system and for high-ranking members of the Chinese government who will benefit from its chilling effect on potential critics or activists.

And we could leave the whole subject there, except for one little thing.


We know that “foreign” corporations will be subject to the whims of the Social Credit system, which means that even if Westerners are not individually ranked in Social Credit they will be evaluated as part of the credit rating given to their employer. It’s a nifty way to ensure that foreign critics of the Chinese government don’t have a chance to participate in the Chinese market.

It seems unlikely to think that it will stop there. In much the same way as Facebook creates “ghost profiles” of people who do not choose to have a Facebook account, there is no reason to think that the Social Credit system will not eventually expand to rate foreigners. Are you interested in visiting China? Better have good social credit. Do you want to work for a Chinese company, even if that company is an American-market pork producer? Then you’ll want to watch what you say. There are quite a few Chinese-owned American companies, from the Chicago Stock Exchange and the Waldorf-Astoria to AMC Theatres.

There is also, of course, the possibility — scratch that, the certainty — that the system will be subject to considerable error. For Americans, it’s likely to result in nothing more than some inconvenience or lost work opportunities. For a Chinese citizen, trapped in the country without the ability to buy a ticket out?

Luckily we have no such social credit system in the United States. Except we do, of course. It was just built using venture capital. We all understand now that nothing on Facebook is private, but in a world where employers are demanding access to the Facebook accounts of their employees there’s never been a better time to walk away from your veal pen in Zuckerberg’s Information Farm. Failing that, you should just create a short and sweet profile with no personal information and no political affiliations that might cost you opportunities in the future. You can be fired nowadays simply for holding conservative views — and if the rulings so far on James Damore’s lawsuit against Google are any indication, it’s perfectly legal for an employer to do so.

As for your humble author, maybe now’s the time for me to hurry up and take out a loan on a lightly-used Viper ACR. My financial credit score is way better than my social credit score is going to be.

ccp

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Bias at FB - though it is obvious, here are some numbers
« Reply #61 on: April 11, 2018, 09:20:42 AM »
The LEFT is so fond of quotas for minorities and women etc but what about quotas for political persuasions .  The counted political affiliations at FB of high level exucs shows a 45 to 10 bias for Obama Hillary lovers vs Romney huggers and ZERO for Trump.

No bias there

And what is the BS about artificial intelligence the Zuck keeps telling us?

As though that would take him off the hook and make it all nonparitison

AI still has to be created by people with all their biases.   

Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #62 on: April 11, 2018, 03:01:45 PM »
Skynet via FB , , , , , ,

DougMacG

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #63 on: April 11, 2018, 03:06:05 PM »
Isn't it creepy that Zuckerberg wants to be regulated?  What does that tell us?  Regulation will help hold together their monopoly.  Regulation legalizes what he is doing, selling private information.  Then he only has to compare his business to the laws he helps write, not to an arbitrary standard of right versus wrong, with damages and liability.



Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #64 on: April 11, 2018, 03:10:29 PM »
AND he serves the Deep State in sending American Creed thinking down the memory hole.

ccp

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #65 on: April 11, 2018, 04:50:56 PM »
"Then he only has to compare his business to the laws he helps write, not to an arbitrary standard of right versus wrong, with damages and liability."

one of the questioners pointed this out.

don't know if true but it has been pointed out online that he has contributed to every Senator on the panel.

there are no shortage of big shots who want in to his money.

the power of billions for all to see. 

He is running for President too.   

DougMacG

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #66 on: April 12, 2018, 04:58:06 AM »
"He is running for President too."

Now that I've seen and heard him, I don't fear him as a candidate, and this scandal isn't helping him in that regard. It looks like he has his hands full running FB, should have sold it before this all blew up.

I was actually impressed with the self awareness I saw in response to Sen Cruz's questioning.  Silicon Valley, where they hire and operate, is a 'very far left' place.  To admit that means the political bias discovered in FB is more solveable than it anywhere else, such as in mainstream media or academia.  They have 15,000 to 20,000 people going through content.  If they want to serve both sides of a badly divided country all they might need to do is create and enforce balance on those teams.  In other words, have conservatives, not liberals, look for hate speech in conservative content.

If he doesn't do that, soon(!), he is serving half the market and setting the stage for voluntary breakup.  Let FB be a liberal social media website and leave a market opening for new entrants, like MSM did for Fox.

I forgot which Senator (Lindsey Graham?) I heard ask, Are you a Monopoly?  Who is your biggest competitor?  And most telling, why did you buy Instagram?

If we are concerned with monopolistic concentrations of power, why are we allowing Facebook to buy competitive social media sites, why did we allow Google to buy youtube, eBay to buy Paypal, etc?  We allow competitors and market participants to be swallowed up, and then talk about a breakup.  Once again, government was asleep at the wheel and now we have a problem.



DougMacG

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Tighter Regulation Will Make Facebook More Profitable
« Reply #67 on: April 13, 2018, 03:40:46 PM »
Doug, 4/11:  "Isn't it creepy that Zuckerberg wants to be regulated?  What does that tell us?  Regulation will help hold together their monopoly.  Regulation legalizes what he is doing..."

Jonah Goldberg, National Review, 4/13:
https://townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/2018/04/13/tighter-regulation-would-probably-make-facebook-more-profitable-n2470497
Tighter Regulation Would Probably Make Facebook More Profitable

Why would the titans of capitalism welcome regulation? Because regulation is the best protection against competition. It stabilizes prices, eliminates uncertainty and writes profits into law
 

ccp

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regulation is not helpful
« Reply #68 on: April 13, 2018, 05:24:42 PM »
and they have the resources to bribe politicians who make the laws hire batteries of lawyers to interpret and game the law and still have cash left over to protect their image and put everyone else out of business or buy them out..

Breaking them up ? is that the way to go?   :|

I don't want this squirt running the world and all our lives.  some kids might not care or see the problems with it because they are young but I do.


Crafty_Dog

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Surveillance Capitalism
« Reply #69 on: April 15, 2018, 05:52:46 AM »
      Facebook and Cambridge Analytica



In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, news articles and
commentators have focused on what Facebook knows about us. A lot, it
turns out. It collects data from our posts, our likes, our photos,
things we type and delete without posting, and things we do while not on
Facebook and even when we're offline. It buys data about us from others.
And it can infer even more: our sexual orientation, political beliefs,
relationship status, drug use, and other personality traits -- even if
we didn't take the personality test that Cambridge Analytica developed.

But for every article about Facebook's creepy stalker behavior,
thousands of other companies are breathing a collective sigh of relief
that it's Facebook and not them in the spotlight. Because while Facebook
is one of the biggest players in this space, there are thousands of
other companies that spy on and manipulate us for profit.

Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff calls it "surveillance
capitalism." And as creepy as Facebook is turning out to be, the entire
industry is far creepier. It has existed in secret far too long, and
it's up to lawmakers to force these companies into the public spotlight,
where we can all decide if this is how we want society to operate and --
if not -- what to do about it.

There are 2,500 to 4,000 data brokers in the United States whose
business is buying and selling our personal data. Last year, Equifax was
in the news when hackers stole personal information on 150 million
people, including Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, and
driver's license numbers.

You certainly didn't give it permission to collect any of that
information. Equifax is one of those thousands of data brokers, most of
them you've never heard of, selling your personal information without
your knowledge or consent to pretty much anyone who will pay for it.

Surveillance capitalism takes this one step further. Companies like
Facebook and Google offer you free services in exchange for your data.
Google's surveillance isn't in the news, but it's startlingly intimate.
We never lie to our search engines. Our interests and curiosities, hopes
and fears, desires and sexual proclivities, are all collected and saved.
Add to that the websites we visit that Google tracks through its
advertising network, our Gmail accounts, our movements via Google Maps,
and what it can collect from our smartphones.

That phone is probably the most intimate surveillance device ever
invented. It tracks our location continuously, so it knows where we
live, where we work, and where we spend our time. It's the first and
last thing we check in a day, so it knows when we wake up and when we go
to sleep. We all have one, so it knows who we sleep with. Uber used just
some of that information to detect one-night stands; your smartphone
provider and any app you allow to collect location data knows a lot
more.

Surveillance capitalism drives much of the internet. It's behind most of
the "free" services, and many of the paid ones as well. Its goal is
psychological manipulation, in the form of personalized advertising to
persuade you to buy something or do something, like vote for a
candidate. And while the individualized profile-driven manipulation
exposed by Cambridge Analytica feels abhorrent, it's really no different
from what every company wants in the end. This is why all your personal
information is collected, and this is why it is so valuable. Companies
that can understand it can use it against you.

None of this is new. The media has been reporting on surveillance
capitalism for years. In 2015, I wrote a book about it. Back in 2010,
the Wall Street Journal published an award-winning two-year series about
how people are tracked both online and offline, titled "What They Know."

Surveillance capitalism is deeply embedded in our increasingly
computerized society, and if the extent of it came to light there would
be broad demands for limits and regulation. But because this industry
can largely operate in secret, only occasionally exposed after a data
breach or investigative report, we remain mostly ignorant of its reach.

This might change soon. In 2016, the European Union passed the
comprehensive General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. The details
of the law are far too complex to explain here, but some of the things
it mandates are that personal data of EU citizens can only be collected
and saved for "specific, explicit, and legitimate purposes," and only
with explicit consent of the user. Consent can't be buried in the terms
and conditions, nor can it be assumed unless the user opts in. This law
will take effect in May, and companies worldwide are bracing for its
enforcement.

Because pretty much all surveillance capitalism companies collect data
on Europeans, this will expose the industry like nothing else. Here's
just one example. In preparation for this law, PayPal quietly published
a list of over 600 companies it might share your personal data with.
What will it be like when every company has to publish this sort of
information, and explicitly explain how it's using your personal data?
We're about to find out.

In the wake of this scandal, even Mark Zuckerberg said that his industry
probably should be regulated, although he's certainly not wishing for
the sorts of comprehensive regulation the GDPR is bringing to Europe.

He's right. Surveillance capitalism has operated without constraints for
far too long. And advances in both big data analysis and artificial
intelligence will make tomorrow's applications far creepier than
today's. Regulation is the only answer.

The first step to any regulation is transparency. Who has our data? Is
it accurate? What are they doing with it? Who are they selling it to?
How are they securing it? Can we delete it? I don't see any hope of
Congress passing a GDPR-like data protection law anytime soon, but it's
not too far-fetched to demand laws requiring these companies to be more
transparent in what they're doing.

One of the responses to the Cambridge Analytica scandal is that people
are deleting their Facebook accounts. It's hard to do right, and doesn't
do anything about the data that Facebook collects about people who don't
use Facebook. But it's a start. The market can put pressure on these
companies to reduce their spying on us, but it can only do that if we
force the industry out of its secret shadows.

This essay previously appeared on CNN.com.
https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/26/opinions/data-company-spying-opinion-schneier/index.html


ccp

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Glitc vs censorship?
« Reply #71 on: April 19, 2018, 04:53:34 AM »
comedian posts abusive posts from liberals and HE gets blocked by Zuck book.  Is this a glitch that offensive posts are seen and immediately wrongly concluded they came from him though they came from others and he automatically gets blocked?
Or you are not allowed to repost abusive posts from others ?
 Or is this a concerted effort to censor a conservative?  Don't know:

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/04/18/facebook-suspends-conservative-comedian-terrence-williams-for-posting-abusive-messages-he-received/

G M

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Re: Glitc vs censorship?
« Reply #72 on: April 19, 2018, 05:09:41 AM »
comedian posts abusive posts from liberals and HE gets blocked by Zuck book.  Is this a glitch that offensive posts are seen and immediately wrongly concluded they came from him though they came from others and he automatically gets blocked?
Or you are not allowed to repost abusive posts from others ?
 Or is this a concerted effort to censor a conservative?  Don't know:

http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/04/18/facebook-suspends-conservative-comedian-terrence-williams-for-posting-abusive-messages-he-received/

I think it's safe to assume Facehugger is always acting in bad faith.


ccp

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #74 on: April 26, 2018, 05:20:05 AM »
"EXCLUSIVE — Research: Google Search Manipulation Can Swing Nearly 80 Percent of Undecided Voter"

no surprise

MSM dead silent except when it hurts their leftist side (cambridge) then suddenly the outrage is expressed

I certainly would not trust that snake Schmidt .

DougMacG

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Re: Google search manipulation, conservative search engine needed
« Reply #75 on: April 26, 2018, 07:28:35 PM »
Since Google and Facebook discriminate against conservative search results, someone else should step in and fill that gap.  There is a skill to using Google, estimating what is the most succinct combination of keywords that will take you right to what you are looking for.  

That doesn't work when looking for facts, evidence and opinion on the conservative side of an issue such as climate science or economics.  If you searched during the campaign for specific, negative stories on Hillary it gave you all positive.  


Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #76 on: April 26, 2018, 07:37:34 PM »
How does Duck stack up?

G M

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #77 on: April 27, 2018, 05:10:10 PM »
How does Duck stack up?


It's not bad. For my professional work, I still use goolag, but now make sure to run it through the brave browser.

G M

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Digital Maoism
« Reply #78 on: April 27, 2018, 05:11:05 PM »
http://nymag.com/selectall/2018/04/jaron-lanier-interview-on-what-went-wrong-with-the-internet.html

This dovetails with something you’ve said in the past that’s with me, which is your phrase Digital Maoism. Do you think that the Digital Maoism that you described years ago — are those the people who run Silicon Valley today?

I was talking about a few different things at the time I wrote “Digital Maoism.” One of them was the way that we were centralizing culture, even though the rhetoric was that we were distributing it. Before Wikipedia, I think it would have been viewed as being this horrible thing to say that there could only be one encyclopedia, and that there would be one dominant entry for a given topic. Instead, there were different encyclopedias. There would be variations not so much in what facts were presented, but in the way they were presented. That voice was a real thing.

And then we moved to this idea that we have a single dominant encyclopedia that was supposed to be the truth for the global AI or something like that. But there’s something deeply pernicious about that. So we’re saying anybody can write for Wikipedia, so it’s, like, purely democratic and it’s this wonderful open thing, and yet the bizarreness is that that open democratic process is on the surface of something that struck me as being Maoist, which is that there’s this one point of view that’s then gonna be the official one.

And then I also noticed that that process of people being put into a global system in which they’re supposed to work together toward some sort of dominating megabrain that’s the one truth didn’t seem to bring out the best in people, that people turned aggressive and mean-spirited when they interacted in that context. I had worked on some content for Britannica years and years ago, and I never experienced the kind of just petty meanness that’s just commonplace in everything about the internet. Among many other places, on Wikipedia.

On the one hand, you have this very open collective process actually in the service of this very domineering global brain, destroyer of local interpretation, destroyer of individual voice process. And then you also have this thing that seems to bring out this meanness in people, where people get into this kind of mob mentality and they become unkind to each other. And those two things have happened all over the internet; they’re both very present in Facebook, everywhere. And it’s a bit of a subtle debate, and it takes a while to work through it with somebody who doesn’t see what I’m talking about. That was what I was talking about.

But then there’s this other thing about the centralization of economic power. What happened with Maoists and with communists in general, and neo-Marxists and all kinds of similar movements, is that on the surface, you say everybody shares, everybody’s equal, we’re not gonna have this capitalist concentration. But then there’s some other entity that might not look like traditional capitalism, but is effectively some kind of robber baron that actually owns everything, some kind of Communist Party actually controls everything, and you have just a very small number of individuals who become hyperempowered and everybody else loses power.

And exactly the same thing has happened with the supposed openness of the internet, where you say, “Isn’t it wonderful, with Facebook and Twitter anybody can express themselves. Everybody’s an equal, everybody’s empowered.” But in fact, we’re in a period of time of extreme concentration of wealth and power, and it’s precisely around those who run the biggest computers. So the truth and the effect is just the opposite of what the rhetoric is and the immediate experience.

A lot of people were furious with me over Digital Maoism and felt that I had betrayed our cause or something, and I lost some friends over it. And some of it was actually hard. But I fail to see how it was anything but accurate. I don’t wanna brag, but I think I was just right. I think that that’s what was going on and that’s what’s happening in China. But what’s worse is that it’s happening elsewhere.


ccp

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #80 on: May 02, 2018, 05:38:36 AM »
http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2018/05/01/facebook-is-now-ranking-news-organizations-based-on-trustworthiness/

I have no idea how they can "rank" news based on likes or dislikes or truthfulness alone without political agendas entering into the equation

Can't be done .
And am I supposed to believe because "AI " what ever that is , is used that it is somehow more accurate or indiscriminant? 

That is certainly flawed .


DougMacG

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The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus, George Gilder: Life after Google
« Reply #81 on: May 02, 2018, 10:01:23 AM »
interesting that George Gilder's next book is called Life after Google.  Big tech disruption coming.  That makes more sense to me than the current feeling that this current state of affairs is permanent.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/richkarlgaard/2018/02/09/why-technology-prophet-george-gilder-predicts-big-techs-disruption/#577ea14e2d21

Any Gilder interview could go in a number of threads.  He quotes Scott Grannis at the start.

Gilder: "I see a kind of rebirth of the Silicon Valley dream. It defies the current Silicon Valley re-centralization of leviathan companies that chiefly buy up their own rivals and buy up their own stocks"
...
"The clouds [cloud computing] are dispersing into the skies—sky computing rendered on your laptop and smartphone, spread across blockchains, transparent and transformative."

Gilder is always an interesting read.  Good to see someone looking beyond the Google Facebook complex.



DougMacG

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Re: The conservative case for breaking up the tech giants
« Reply #84 on: May 17, 2018, 03:40:00 PM »
https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/05/breaking-up-tech-giants-conservative-case/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Monday%20through%20Friday%202018-05-16&utm_term=NR5PM%20Actives

Mark me down as skeptical on this.  We should prosecute illegal tactics, not illegal size or market share, IMHO.

It reminds me of the case against Microsoft brought by Janet Reno and Bill Clinton in March 2000.  Government attacking the nation's most successful company ever (at the time) triggered the tech crash, was devastating to investors of all tech.

Facebook is a choice.  There are other ways to stay in touch with people.  25% choose not to participate and many of those in are not active.

Google also is a choice, or a series of choices.  In both cases, they take, store and sell more of your privacy, security and information than they disclose.  Maybe a civil lawsuit would be a better choice, better than have the government decide how these frozen in time services should be allocated.

All of these mentioned are companies people love to hate.  Ripe for disruption through market forces.  Turning the decision of how big a private sector company should be over to big government does not look like a solution to me.

ccp

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my one cent
« Reply #85 on: May 17, 2018, 06:28:47 PM »
from CDs post :

"there is another option to deal with this situation that would reduce the power of these companies and serve the public interest. That is breaking these monopolies up into smaller, more focused entities."

I am a conservative in THIS camp.

I don't listen to Gilder anymore.


Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #86 on: May 18, 2018, 05:55:37 AM »
For the purpose of conversation, I take the other side:

Monopoly power may not be used to leverage outside of its area.  FB is using its monopoly power to suppress conservative thought.  It is doing so through a sustained pattern of deceptive business practices.

ccp

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #87 on: May 18, 2018, 07:05:29 AM »
I would add Google also does this
as well as Twitter whose /CEO makes no bones about doing this.

So, CD do you advocate regulation or break up or neither?


Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #88 on: May 18, 2018, 07:42:56 AM »
My thinking is not yet fixed, but at the moment I am sympathetic to a notion I vaguely remember from some cases I saw in law school concerning a shopping mall (private property) being constructively considered to be the "town square" (the nature of the town was that there was no "town square") and that the mall had to allow political speech.  Frankly I don't know whether this line of precedent remains valid or not.

G M

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #89 on: May 18, 2018, 10:35:00 AM »
My thinking is not yet fixed, but at the moment I am sympathetic to a notion I vaguely remember from some cases I saw in law school concerning a shopping mall (private property) being constructively considered to be the "town square" (the nature of the town was that there was no "town square") and that the mall had to allow political speech.  Frankly I don't know whether this line of precedent remains valid or not.


My thought is to use antitrust laws like a meat ax on the goolag and it's fellow travelers. Why? Because it's war, so fcuk them.

Crafty_Dog

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus
« Reply #90 on: May 18, 2018, 10:00:04 PM »
Continuing the conversation:

FEATURED ANALYSIS
The Cultural Shift Against Free Speech
Brian Mark Weber
 
At first, Twitter seemed like a great idea: quickly and concisely communicating our thoughts with just a few keystrokes, rather than babbling on and on. Still, something didn't seem quite right about that 140-character limitation, even when it was doubled to 280 characters last year. Somehow, it still seemed a restriction on our speech.
But that was just the beginning. This simple social media platform is now going far beyond limiting our character-count to controlling what we think and how we interact with our fellow citizens.

One of the core problems created by social media behemoths like Twitter and Facebook is not that their policies are posing any serious legal threat to the First Amendment. As David French writes at National Review, "The law of free speech has mainly improved. Americans might have more legal defenses against government censorship now than they ever have before. If the government moves against your speech based on your viewpoint and you fight back, you're likely to win."

But social media platforms can bypass the Constitution altogether by creating a paradigm shift in the way current and future generations understand the important role free speech plays in our society. French adds, "The culture of free speech has decayed. Individuals and organizations are far more sensitive and far less tolerant of dissent than they were even in the recent past."

Twitter thinks it has the answer, but its users won't be freer to speak their minds.

In 2016, Twitter launched an Orwellian "Trust & Safety Council" made up of more than 40 organizations, some of which have a history of suppressing free speech. Having thus created a council with representation from a very limited range of ideological perspectives, the company tipped its authoritarian hand.

Twitter explained that in order for users to "express themselves freely and safely on Twitter, we must provide more tools and policies."

Somehow we've managed to build a thriving civilization without having our social interactions with others flagged by an intrusive authority, but now Twitter thinks we need just that. After all, society itself has embedded cultural norms and practices over time to ensure civil discourse. But these cultural norms are under actually threatened by the advent of technology and the pervasive use of social media by millions of Americans.

Sure, some of Twitter's changes seem benign on the surface. For example, the latest push by CEO Jack Dorsey purports to focus on people who are routinely blocked by other users, those who send tweets to accounts they don't follow, and those who launch multiple accounts from a single IP address. But how far will this go? Dorsey himself said that "this is a step, but we can see this going quite far."

Indeed, it may well go too far.

This week, The Verge posted an internal Google video imagining a future in which social media is used not merely to referee online interaction, but to socially engineer our entire society.

If that doesn't send chills down your spine, then maybe we're already closer to that world than we realize.

For now, Twitter asserts that it's merely trying to rid the platform of "spammy behavior." But earlier this year, James O'Keefe's Project Veritas revealed (via The Daily Wire) "Twitter employees admitting that they 'shadow ban' right-leaning accounts, which essentially bans them from the platform without letting them know that they have been banned while allowing left-leaning accounts to slip through without the same scrutiny."

That wouldn't be so bad if Twitter were merely trying to filter out inappropriate or abusive online behavior without regard to ideology. But while middle-of-the-road conservative groups and individuals are being shadow-banned, Twitter has no qualms about allowing groups like Hamas to freely express their hatred and their calls for violence simply because Hamas is a democratically elected government entity that claims to be part of the Middle East "peace process." Remember, Hamas was deemed a foreign terrorist organization by none other than President Bill Clinton in 1997, and it orchestrated the recent violence on the Gaza border that lead to the deaths of dozens of its soldiers.

Our Founding Fathers wisely protected us against government's intrusion into what we say and how we say it. Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms, however, are subversively changing the very way Americans think about communication.

And these changes are also occurring in academia and in the workplace, where the anti-free speech culture being fostered online is also part of the broader culture. The result is that we've become conditioned by social media to accept environments in which simply sharing an opinion can lead to being flagged, suppressed or outright banned from a social community. This is having a ripple effect on the way Americans interact with one another away from social media.

Of course, no one is suggesting that the government take action against private companies. As Reason's Robby Soave writes, "Twitter is a private company. It is free to make whatever speech rules it wants. Forcing Twitter to permit more kinds of speech would not actually be pro-free speech — in fact, it would violate the First Amendment."

And that's why one of the greatest challenges our society will face in the 21st century is maintaining a culture of free speech when so many of us discuss politics and social issues not in the public square where everyone can speak freely, but in the privately-run realms of the Internet.

The time has come for Americans to speak up, before it's too late. This is no longer a discussion about cleaning up social media, but about preserving a civilization whose great strength has always derived from its First Amendment.

Crafty_Dog

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POTH: Germany, Facebook, hate speech, and Freedom of Speech
« Reply #91 on: May 19, 2018, 09:04:30 PM »
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/19/technology/facebook-deletion-center-germany.html?nl=top-stories&nlid=49641193ries&ref=cta

Germany Acts to Tame Facebook, Learning From Its Own History of Hate
A country taps its past as it leads the way on one of the most pressing issues facing modern democracies: how to regulate the world’s biggest social network.
At a Facebook deletion center in Berlin, the agents, who work for a third-party firm, remove illegal hate speech from the social network.CreditGordon Welters for The New York Times
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•  •  By Katrin Bennhold
May 19, 2018
BERLIN — Security is tight at this brick building on the western edge of Berlin. Inside, a sign warns: “Everybody without a badge is a potential spy!”
Spread over five floors, hundreds of men and women sit in rows of six scanning their computer screens. All have signed nondisclosure agreements. Four trauma specialists are at their disposal seven days a week.

They are the agents of Facebook. And they have the power to decide what is free speech and what is hate speech.  This is a deletion center, one of Facebook’s largest, with more than 1,200 content moderators. They are cleaning up content — from terrorist propaganda to Nazi symbols to child abuse — that violates the law or the company’s community standards.

Germany, home to a tough new online hate speech law, has become a laboratory for one of the most pressing issues for governments today: how and whether to regulate the world’s biggest social network.

Around the world, Facebook and other social networking platforms are facing a backlash over their failures to safeguard privacy, disinformation campaigns and the digital reach of hate groups.

In India, seven people were beaten to death after a false viral message on the Facebook subsidiary WhatsApp. In Myanmar, violence against the Rohingya minority was fueled, in part, by misinformation spread on Facebook. In the United States, Congress called Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, to testify about the company’s inability to protect its users’ privacy.

As the world confronts these rising forces, Europe, and Germany in particular, have emerged as the de facto regulators of the industry, exerting influence beyond their own borders. Berlin’s digital crackdown on hate speech, which took effect on Jan. 1, is being closely watched by other countries. And German officials are playing a major role behind one of Europe’s most aggressive moves to rein in technology companies, strict data privacy rules that take effect across the European Union on May 25 and are prompting global changes.

 “For them, data is the raw material that makes them money,” said Gerd Billen, secretary of state in Germany’s Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection. “For us, data protection is a fundamental right that underpins our democratic institutions.”

Germany’s troubled history has placed it on the front line of a modern tug-of-war between democracies and digital platforms.

In the country of the Holocaust, the commitment against hate speech is as fierce as the commitment to free speech. Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” is only available in an annotated version. Swastikas are illegal. Inciting hatred is punishable by up to five years in jail.

But banned posts, pictures and videos have routinely lingered on Facebook and other social media platforms. Now companies that systematically fail to remove “obviously illegal” content within 24 hours face fines of up to 50 million euros.

The deletion center predates the legislation, but its efforts have taken on new urgency. Every day content moderators in Berlin, hired by a third-party firm and working exclusively on Facebook, pore over thousands of posts flagged by users as upsetting or potentially illegal and make a judgment: Ignore, delete or, in particularly tricky cases, “escalate” to a global team of Facebook lawyers with expertise in German regulation.

Some decisions to delete are easy. Posts about Holocaust denial and genocidal rants against particular groups like refugees are obvious ones for taking down.
Others are less so. On Dec. 31, the day before the new law took effect, a far-right lawmaker reacted to an Arabic New Year’s tweet from the Cologne police, accusing them of appeasing “barbaric, Muslim, gang-raping groups of men.”

The request to block a screenshot of the lawmaker’s post wound up in the queue of Nils, a 35-year-old agent in the Berlin deletion center. His judgment was to let it stand. A colleague thought it should come down. Ultimately, the post was sent to lawyers in Dublin, London, Silicon Valley and Hamburg. By the afternoon it had been deleted, prompting a storm of criticism about the new legislation, known here as the “Facebook Law.”

 “A lot of stuff is clear-cut,” Nils said. Facebook, citing his safety, did not allow him to give his surname. “But then there is the borderline stuff.”

Complicated cases have raised concerns that the threat of the new rules’ steep fines and 24-hour window for making decisions encourage “over-blocking” by companies, a sort of defensive censorship of content that is not actually illegal.

The far-right Alternative of Germany, a noisy and prolific user of social media, has been quick to proclaim “the end of free speech.” Human rights organizations have warned that the legislation was inspiring authoritarian governments to copy it.

Other people argue that the law simply gives a private company too much authority to decide what constitutes illegal hate speech in a democracy, an argument that Facebook, which favored voluntary guidelines, made against the law.

“It is perfectly appropriate for the German government to set standards,” said Elliot Schrage, Facebook’s vice president of communications and public policy. “But we think it’s a bad idea for the German government to outsource the decision of what is lawful and what is not.”

Richard Allan, Facebook’s vice president for public policy in Europe and the leader of the company’s lobbying effort against the German legislation, put it more simply: “We don’t want to be the arbiters of free speech.”

German officials counter that social media platforms are the arbiters anyway.

It all boils down to one question, said Mr. Billen, who helped draw up the new legislation: “Who is sovereign? Parliament or Facebook?”

Learning From (German) History

When Nils applied for a job at the deletion center, the first question the recruiter asked him was: “Do you know what you will see here?”
Nils has seen it all. Child torture. Mutilations. Suicides. Even murder: He once saw a video of a man cutting a heart out of a living human being.
And then there is hate.

“You see all the ugliness of the world here,” Nils said. “Everyone is against everyone else. Everyone is complaining about that other group. And everyone is saying the same horrible things.”

The issue is deeply personal for Nils. He has a 4-year-old daughter. “I’m also doing this for her,” he said.

The center here is run by Arvato, a German service provider owned by the conglomerate Bertelsmann. The agents have a broad purview, reviewing content from a half-dozen countries. Those with a focus on Germany must know Facebook’s community standards and, as of January, the basics of German hate speech and defamation law.

“Two agents looking at the same post should come up with the same decision,” says Karsten König, who manages Arvato’s partnership with Facebook.
The Berlin center opened with 200 employees in 2015, as Germany was opening its doors to hundreds of thousands of migrants.

That year a selfie went viral.
Image
Anas Modamani, a Syrian refugee, posed with Chancellor Angela Merkel and posted the image on Facebook. It instantly became a symbol of her decision to allowing in hundreds of thousands of migrants.

Soon it also became a symbol of the backlash.

The image showed up in false reports linking Mr. Modamani to terrorist attacks in Brussels and on a Christmas market in Berlin. He sought an injunction against Facebook to stop such posts from being shared but eventually lost.

The arrival of nearly 1.4 million migrants in Germany has tested the country’s resolve to keep a tight lid on hate speech. The law on illegal speech was long-established but enforcement in the digital realm was scattershot before the new legislation.

Posts calling refugees rapists, Neanderthals and scum survived for weeks, according to jugendschutz.net, a publicly funded internet safety organization. Many were never taken down. Researchers at jugendschutz.net reported a tripling in observed hate speech in the second half of 2015.

Mr. Billen, the secretary of state in charge of the new law, was alarmed. In September 2015, he convened executives from Facebook and other social media sites at the justice ministry, a building that was once the epicenter of state propaganda for the Communist East. A task force for fighting hate speech was created. A couple of months later, Facebook and other companies signed a joint declaration, promising to “examine flagged content and block or delete the majority of illegal posts within 24 hours.”

But the problem did not go away. Over the 15 months that followed, independent researchers, hired by the government, twice posed as ordinary users and flagged illegal hate speech. During the tests, they found that Facebook had deleted 46 percent and 39 percent.

“They knew that they were a platform for criminal behavior and for calls to commit criminal acts, but they presented themselves to us as a wolf in sheep skin,” said Mr. Billen, a poker-faced civil servant with stern black frames on his glasses.

By March 2017, the German government had lost patience and started drafting legislation. The Network Enforcement Law was born, setting out 21 types of content that are “manifestly illegal” and requiring social media platforms to act quickly.

Officials say early indications suggest the rules have served their purpose. Facebook’s performance on removing illegal hate speech in Germany rose to 100 percent over the past year, according to the latest spot check of the European Union.

Platforms must publish biannual reports on their efforts. The first is expected in July.

At Facebook’s Berlin offices, Mr. Allan acknowledged that under the earlier voluntary agreement, the company had not acted decisively enough at first.
“It was too little and it was too slow,” he said. But, he added, “that has changed.”

He cited another independent report for the European Commission from last summer that showed Facebook was by then removing 80 percent of hate speech posts in Germany.

The reason for the improvement was not German legislation, he said, but a voluntary code of conduct with the European Union. Facebook’s results have improved in all European countries, not just in Germany, Mr. Allan said.

“There was no need for legislation,” he said.

Mr. Billen disagrees.

“They could have prevented the law,” he said. YouTube scored 90 percent in last year’s monitoring exercise. If other platforms had done the same, there would be no law today, he said.

A Regulatory Dilemma

Germany’s hard-line approach to hate speech and data privacy once made it an outlier in Europe. The country’s stance is now more mainstream, an evolution seen in the justice commissioner in Brussels.  Vera Jourova, the justice commissioner, deleted her Facebook account in 2015 because she could not stand the hate anymore.
“It felt good,” she said about pressing the button. She added: “It felt like taking back control.”

But Ms. Jourova, who grew up behind the Iron Curtain in what is now the Czech Republic, had long been skeptical about governments legislating any aspect of free speech, including hate speech. Her father lost his job after making a disparaging comment about the Soviet invasion in 1968, barring her from going to university until she married and took her husband’s name.

“I lived half my life in the atmosphere driven by Soviet propaganda,” she said. “The golden principle was: If you repeat a lie a hundred times it becomes the truth.”

When Germany started considering a law, she instead preferred a voluntary code of conduct. In 2016, platforms like Facebook promised European users easy reporting tools and committed to removing most illegal posts brought to their attention within 24 hours.

The approach worked well enough, Ms. Jourova said. It was also the quickest way to act because the 28 member states in the European Union differed so much about whether and how to legislate.  But the stance of many governments toward Facebook has hardened since it emerged that the consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had harvested the personal data of up to 87 million users. Representatives of the European Parliament have asked Mr. Zuckerberg to come to Brussels to “clarify issues related to the use of personal data” and he has agreed to come as soon as next week.

Ms. Jourova, whose job is to protect the data of over 500 million Europeans, has hardened her stance as well.

“Our current system relies on trust and this did nothing to improve trust,” she said. “The question now is how do we continue?”

The European Commission is considering German-style legislation for online content related to terrorism, violent extremism and child pornography, including a provision that would include fines for platforms that did not remove illegal content within an hour of being alerted to it.

Several countries — France, Israel, Italy, and Canada among them — have sent queries to the German government about the impact of the new hate speech law.
And Germany’s influence is evident in Europe’s new privacy regulation, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, or G.D.P.R.. The rules give people control over how their information is collected and used.

[Here’s what G.D.P.R. means for you, and the internet.]

Inspired in part by German data protection laws written in the 1980s, the regulation has been shaped by a number of prominent Germans. Ms. Jourova’s chief of staff, Renate Nikolay, is German, as is her predecessor’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, now the European Commission’s secretary general. The lawmaker in charge of the regulation in the European Parliament is German, too.

“We have built on the German tradition of data protection as a constitutional right and created the most modern piece of regulation of the digital economy,” Ms. Nikolay said.

“To succeed in the long-term companies needs the trust of customers,” she said. “At the latest since Cambridge Analytica it has become clear that data protection is not just some nutty European idea, but a matter of competitiveness.”

On March 26, Ms. Jourova wrote a letter — by post, not email — to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer.

“Is there a need for stricter rules for platforms like those that exist for traditional media? Is the data of Europeans affected by the current scandal?” she asked, referring to the Cambridge Analytica episode. And, if so, “How do you plan to inform the user about this?” 

She demanded a reply within two weeks, and she got one. Some 2.7 million Europeans were affected, Ms. Sandberg wrote.  But she never answered Ms. Jourova’s question on regulation.

“There is now a sense of urgency and the conviction that we are dealing with something very dangerous that may threaten the development of free democracies,” said Ms. Jourova, who is also trying to find ways to clamp down on fake news and disinformation campaigns.

“We want the tech giants to respect and follow our legislation,” she added. “We want them to show social responsibility both on data protection and on hate speech.”
So do many Facebook employees, Mr. Allan, the company executive, said.

“We employ very thoughtful and principled people,” he said. “They work here because they want to make the world a better place, so when an assumption is made that the product they work on is harming people it is impactful.  People have felt this criticism very deeply.”

A Visual Onslaught

Nils works eight-hour shifts. On busy days, 1,500 user reports are in his queue. Other days, there are only 300. Some of his colleagues have nightmares about what they see. 

Every so often someone breaks down. A mother recently left her desk in tears after watching a video of a child being sexually abused. A young man felt physically sick after seeing a video of a dog being tortured. The agents watch teenagers self-mutilating and girls recounting rape.

They have weekly group sessions with a psychologist and the trauma specialists on standby. In more serious cases, the center teams up with clinics in Berlin.

In the office, which is adorned with Facebook logos, fresh fruit is at the agents’ disposal in a small room where subdued colors and decorative moss growing on the walls are meant to calm fraying nerves.

To decompress, the agents sometimes report each other’s posts, not because they are controversial, but “just for a laugh,” said another agent, the son of a Lebanese refugee and an Arabic-speaker who has had to deal with content related to terrorism generally and the Islamic State specifically. By now, he said, images of “weird skin diseases” affected him more than those of a beheading. Nils finds sports injuries like breaking bones particularly disturbing.

There is a camaraderie in the office and a real sense of mission: Nils said the agents were proud to “help clean up the hate.”

The definition of hate is constantly evolving.

The agents, who initially take a three-week training course, get frequent refreshers. Their guidelines are revised to reflect hate speech culture. Events change the meaning of words. New hashtags and online trends must be put in context.

“Slurs can become socialized,” Mr. Allan of Facebook explained.

“Refugee” became a group protected from the broad hate speech rules only in 2015. “Nafri” was a term used by the German police that year to describe North Africans who sexually harassed hundreds of women, attacking and, in some cases, raping them. Since then, Nafri has become a popular insult among the far-right.

Nils and his colleagues must determine whether hateful content is singling out an ethnic group or individuals.

That was the challenge with a message on Twitter that was later posted to Facebook as a screenshot by Beatrix von Storch, deputy floor leader of the far-right party, AfD.
“What the hell is wrong with this country?” Ms. von Storch wrote on Dec. 31. “Why is an official police account tweeting in Arabic?  Do you think that will appease the barbaric murdering Muslim group-raping gangs of men?” she continued.

A user reported the post as a violation of German law, and it landed in Nils’s queue. He initially decided to ignore the request because he felt Ms. von Storch was directing her insults at the men who had sexually assaulted women two years earlier.

Separately, a user reported the post as a violation of community standards. Another agent leaned toward deleting it, taking it as directed at Muslims in general.

They conferred with their “subject matter expert,” who escalated it to a team in Dublin.

For 24 hours, the post kept Facebook lawyers from Silicon Valley to Hamburg busy. The Dublin team decided that the post did not violate community standards but sent it on for legal assessment by outside lawyers hired by Facebook in Germany.

Within hours of news that the German police were opening a criminal investigation into Ms. von Storch over her comments, Facebook restricted access to the post. The user who reported the content was notified that it had been blocked for a violation of section 130 of the German criminal code, incitement to hatred. Ms. von Storch was also notified too.

In the first few days of the year, it looked like the platforms were erring on the side of censorship. On Jan. 2, a day after Ms. von Storch’s post was deleted, the satirical magazine Titanic quipped that she would be its new guest tweeter. Two of the magazine’s subsequent Twitter posts mocking her were deleted. When Titanic published them again, its account was temporarily suspended.

Since then, things have calmed down. And even Mr. Allan conceded: “The law has not materially changed the amount of content that is deleted.”

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Re: The Goolag, the Orwellian Tech Octopus, 60 minutes
« Reply #92 on: May 20, 2018, 08:39:38 AM »
On "60 Minutes" later today, The Power of Google, Steve Kroft reports on the power of Google, its critics who say the company has stifled competition, and an antitrust enforcer who is taking action.

Liberal media (CBS) won't take them on for their political bias, search results manipulation, but maybe they will expose the troubling privacy violation issues. 

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