Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.
The tag 'Facebook' is associated with 38 posts.

FTR #946 In Your Facebook: A Virtual Panopticon, Part 2

In FTR #718 (recorded on Independence Day weekend of 2010), we noted that the new social medium–Facebook-might very well be the opposite of the liberating, empowering entity many believed it to be.

On the contrary, we said–it received financial backing from the CIA, permits unprecedented gathering and databasing of users’ personal information, and might very well be a “panopticon”–a type of prison in which the interned can never see his or her jailers, but their keepers can see the interned at all times.

In particular, we noted the prominent position of major Facebook investor Peter Thiel in “Mondo Zuckerberg.” Of German (and probable I.G. Farben) origins, we opined that Thiel was Underground Reich. Opposed to democracy because he feels it is inimical to wealth creation and doesn’t believe women should be allowed to vote, Thiel has now emerged as one of the most prominent of Donald Trump’s supporters, transition team creators and influential policy wonks.

Whereas we explored the “virtual panopticon” concept of Facebook with a question mark in 2010, we now feel affirmatively on the issue.

A very important story from New York magazine sets forth Facebook’s role in the just-concluded election. ” . . . . Facebook’s size, reach, wealth, and power make it effectively the only one that matters. And, boy, does it matter. At the risk of being hyperbolic, I think there are few events over the last decade more significant than the social network’s wholesale acquisition of the traditional functions of news media (not to mention the political-party apparatus). Trump’s ascendancy is far from the first material consequence of Facebook’s conquering invasion of our social, cultural, and political lives, but it’s still a bracing reminder of the extent to which the social network is able to upend existing structure and transform society — and often not for the better. . . .

” . . . . Facebook’s enormous audience, and the mechanisms of distribution on which the site relies — i.e., the emotionally charged activity of sharing, and the show-me-more-like-this feedback loop of the news feed algorithm — makes it the only site to support a genuinely lucrative market in which shady publishers arbitrage traffic by enticing people off of Facebook and onto ad-festooned websites, using stories that are alternately made up, incorrect, exaggerated beyond all relationship to truth, or all three. . . .

” . . . . And at the heart of the problem, anyway, is not the motivations of the hoaxers but the structure of social media itself. Tens of millions of people, invigorated by insurgent outsider candidates and anger at perceived political enemies, were served up or shared emotionally charged news stories about the candidates, because Facebook’s sorting algorithm understood from experience that they were seeking such stories. Many of those stories were lies, or ‘parodies,’ but their appearance and placement in a news feed were no different from those of any publisher with a commitment to, you know, not lying. As those people and their followers clicked on, shared, or otherwise engaged with those stories — which they did, because Trump drives engagement extremely bigly — they were served up even more of them. The engagement-driving feedback loop reached the heights of Facebook itself, which shared fake news to its front page on more than one occasion after firing the small team of editorial employees tasked with passing news judgment. . . .

” . . . . Something like 170 million people in North America use Facebook every day, a number that’s not only several orders of magnitude larger than even the most optimistic circulation reckonings of major news outlets but also about one-and-a-half times as many people as voted on Tuesday. Forty-four percent of all adults in the United States say they get news from Facebook . . . ”

Symptomatic of Facebook’s filter of what its users see concerns the social medium’s recent non-coverage of the women’s march:

” . . . . We don’t usually post on Pando at the weekend, but this is too topical and too shameful to wait until Monday. As you certainly know, today is the day of the Women’s March on Washington in protest of Donald Trump. The main event is in DC, where something close to 500,000 protesters of all genders and ages have packed the streets — but there are also major protests in Chicago, New York and around the world. Including Antarctica.

You certainly know this because the protest march is the top story on every major news outlet, and because updates and photos from the event are flooding your Twitter and Facebook feeds.

And yet, here’s what Facebook’s trending news feed looked like at the height of the march…

And here’s its trending politics feed…

Notice anything missing?

Like, say, a half million women? . . .

In case you think I’m seeing something different from the rest of the world, be assured I’m not….”

Facebook has changed its algorithm, no longer factoring in “likes” and other personal preferences in determining its news feed.

This, however, does not bode as well as Facebook would like us to believe. Facebook has promoted, among others, Campbell Brown, to an important position in structuring its news feed: ” . . . . Brown has longstanding ties not just to the traditional news media, but also to conservative politics, although she describes herself as a political independent. She is a close personal friend of Betsy DeVos, the Republican megadonor who is Donald Trump’s nominee for Education Secretary, and is married to Dan Senor, a former top advisor to Mitt Romney who also served as spokesperson for the Coalition Provisional Authority in the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. . . .

. . . . And alongside her mainstream media experience, Brown is familiar with the world of non-traditional news outlets springing up online. In 2014, she founded a nonprofit news site, The 74, which bills itself as nonpartisan but which critics have said functions as advocacy journalism, tilted in favor of charter schools and against teachers’ unions. The site was launched with money from donors including the foundation run by DeVos, Trump’s proposed Education Secretary. When the nomination was announced, Brown said she would recuse herself from The 74’s coverage of DeVos. . .”

Brown is joined by Tucker Bounds, a former John McCain adviser and spokesman for the McCain/Palin campaign.

Exemplifying the terrifying possibilities of the virtual panopticon, we examine the nexus of Cambridge Analytica, its principal investors, Robert and Rebekah Mercer and Steve Bannon, a key member of the firm’s board of directors and a political guru to Rebekah. ” . . . . For several years, a data firm eventually hired by the Trump campaign, Cambridge Analytica, has been using Facebook as a tool to build psychological profiles that represent some 230 million adult Americans. A spinoff of a British consulting company and sometime-defense contractor known for its counterterrorism ‘psy ops’ work in Afghanistan, the firm does so by seeding the social network with personality quizzes. Respondents — by now hundreds of thousands of us, mostly female and mostly young but enough male and older for the firm to make inferences about others with similar behaviors and demographics — get a free look at their Ocean scores. Cambridge Analytica also gets a look at their scores and, thanks to Facebook, gains access to their profiles and real names.

“Cambridge Analytica worked on the ‘Leave’ side of the Brexit campaign. In the United States it takes only Republicans as clients: Senator Ted Cruz in the primaries, Mr. Trump in the general election. Cambridge is reportedly backed by Robert Mercer, a hedge fund billionaire and a major Republican donor; a key board member is Stephen K. Bannon, the head of Breitbart News who became Mr. Trump’s campaign chairman and is set to be his chief strategist in the White House. . .

” . . . . Their [the Mercers] data firm, Cambridge Analytica, was hired by the Cruz campaign. They switched to support Trump shortly after he clinched the nomination, and he eventually hired Cambridge Analytica, as well. Their top political guru is Steve Bannon, the former Breitbart News chairman and White House chief strategist. They’re close, too, with Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, who also has a senior role in the White House. They never speak to the press and hardly ever even release a public statement. Like Trump himself, they’ve flouted the standard playbook for how things are done in politics. . . .”

Bannon’s influence on Rebekah Mercer is particularly strong: ” . . . Another of the Republican operatives described Bannon as the ‘Obi-Wan Kenobi’ to Rebekah Mercer, and a third was even more pointed: ‘Svengali.’ Bannon is ‘really, really, really influential’ with Mercer, said the former Breitbart employee. The Mercers, the former employee said, made their wishes known through Bannon, who would sometimes cite the company’s financial backers as a reason for Breitbart not to do a story. Bannon didn’t respond to a request for comment about this. . . .”

In turn, the influence of Steve Bannon within the Facebook virtual panopticon is even more sinister considering Bannon’s political outlook: ” . . . . But, said the source, who requested anonymity to speak candidly about Bannon, ‘There are some things he’s only going to share with people who he’s tight with and who he trusts.’

Bannon’s readings tend to have one thing in common: the view that technocrats have put Western civilization on a downward trajectory and that only a shock to the system can reverse its decline. And they tend to have a dark, apocalyptic tone that at times echoes Bannon’s own public remarks over the years—a sense that humanity is at a hinge point in history. . . .”

One of the influences on Bannon is Curtis Yarvin, aka Mencius Moldbug, who has actually opened a backchannel advisory connection to the White House: ” . . . . Before he emerged on the political scene, an obscure Silicon Valley computer programmer with ties to Trump backer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel was explaining his behavior. Curtis Yarvin, the self-proclaimed ‘neoreactionary’ who blogs under the name ‘Mencius Moldbug,’ attracted a following in 2008 when he published a wordy treatise asserting, among other things, that ‘nonsense is a more effective organizing tool than the truth.’ When the organizer of a computer science conference canceled Yarvin’s appearance following an outcry over his blogging under his nom de web, Bannon took note: Breitbart News decried the act of censorship in an article about the programmer-blogger’s dismissal.

Moldbug’s dense, discursive musings on history—’What’s so bad about the Nazis?’ he asks in one 2008 post that condemns the Holocaust but questions the moral superiority of the Allies—include a belief in the utility of spreading misinformation that now looks like a template for Trump’s approach to truth. ‘To believe in nonsense is an unforgeable [sic] demonstration of loyalty. It serves as a political uniform. And if you have a uniform, you have an army,’ he writes in a May 2008 post.’It’s been a while since I posted anything really controversial and offensive here,’ he begins in a July 25, 2007, post explaining why he associates democracy with ‘war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.’

Moldbug, who does not do interviews and could not be reached for this story, has reportedly opened up a line to the White House, communicating with Bannon and his aides through an intermediary, according to a source. Yarvin said he has never spoken with Bannon. . . .”

After discussing Facebook’s new AI technology being employed to search users’ photos, the program concludes with the shift of Silicon Valley money to the GOP.

Program Highlights Include: review of Steve Bannon’s role on the NSC; review of the martial law contingency plans drawn up by Oliver North during the Reagan administration, involving the deputizing of paramilitary right-wingers; review of Erik Prince’s relationship to the Trump administration and Betsy De Vos, Trump’s education secretary.


John Perry Barlow (Grateful Dead Lyricist, Dick Cheney Campaign Manager, George Wallace Voter), the CIA, and the Genesis of Social Media

In FTR #854, we noted John Perry Barlow’s background as Dick Cheney’s campaign manager and George Wallace supporter in 1968. In FTR #895, we discussed the fact that the Electronic Frontier Foundation embraced technologies developed by CIA-linked institutions. Barlow founded the EFF. It turns out that Barlow was invited to CIA headquarters in 1992 and advanced concepts that may well have lead to the development of social media–“. . . Let’s create a process of information digestion in which inexpensive data are gathered from largely open sources and condensed, through an open process . . . The entity I envision would be small, highly networked, and generally visible. It would be open to information from all available sources . . . It would rely heavily on the Internet, public media, the academic press, and an informal worldwide network of volunteers–a kind of global Neighborhood Watch–that would submit on-the-ground reports. . . . It would use off-the-shelf technology, and use it less for gathering data than for collating and communicating them. Being off-the-shelf, it could deploy tools while they were still state-of-the-art. . . .”


“Alt Right” Assange, the Facebook “Virtual Panopticon” and the Victory of the Trumpenkampfverbande

WikiLeaks is a fascist, “Alt-Right” institution that aided Trump’s election. Facebook, one of whose largest stockholders is Trump supporter Peter Thiel, also helped aid the election of “The Donald.” All of the contents of this website as of 12/19/2014–Dave Emory’s 35+ years of research and broadcasting–as well as hours of videotaped lectures are available on a 32GB flash drive. Dave offers his programs and articles for free–your support is very much appreciated.


FTR #904 Miscellaneous Articles and Updates

Beginning with an update on the investigation into the fate of Adolf Hitler, the broadcast notes that associates of Simon Dunstan and Gerard Williams (authors of “Grey Wolf”) received death threats in connection with their research–this more than 70 years after the Fuehrer’s alleged “suicide.”

Fresh from his Silicon Valley appearance, Narendra Modi has been actualizing the RSS’s Hindu/nationalist fascism, instituting an online monitoring agency and beating up student protesters in New Delhi.

Much of the broadcast details developments in the world of high-tech, from apparent and terrifying hacks to predictions about the massive replacement of workers by robots and artificial intelligence.

Program Highlights Include: Ayatollah Khomeini’s networking with a Muslim-Brotherhood affiliate; the apparent hacking of a Boston subway train; the hacking of a water treatment plant; review of Nazi hacker and Glenn Greenwald crony Andrew Auernheimer’s hacking of remote printers; review of the devolution of Microsoft’s Tay AI chatbot into a Nazi; discussion of the development of artificial intelligence as the “next big thing” in technology; projections that 83% of jobs paying under $20.00 an hour will be technologically phased out; projection that more than 5 million construction jobs will be replaced by robots and/or AI; the late Antonin Scalia’s networking with the Habsburg milieu.


FTR #890 Tracking from the Far Right: Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

QUICK: Who said this?: “ ‘It seems like the [United States Dollar] and [Great Britain’s Pound] are both likely to go the way of the zim­babwe dol­lar,’ he sug­gested in March 2009. ‘Espe­cially with that cock­bag Bernanke decid­ing to mag­i­cally print 1.2T more dollars.’ . . . Obama was ‘plan­ning to devalue the cur­rency absolutely as fast as the­o­ret­i­cally pos­si­ble,’ he wrote. . . .” Ted Cruz? Donald Trump? Marco Rubio? Paul Ryan? Rand Paul? No, it is Edward Snowden. Note how this jibes with Paul Krugman’s description of the GOP primary field: ” . . . . After all, Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, not only berated Ben Bernanke, Ms. Yellen’s predecessor, for policies that allegedly risked inflation (which never materialized), but he also dabbled in conspiracy theorizing, accusing Mr. Bernanke of acting to “bail out fiscal policy.” . . . But Wall Street isn’t the only source of malign pressure on the Fed, and in the actually existing U.S. political situation, such a bill would essentially empower the cranks — the gold-standard-loving, hyperinflation-is-coming types who dominate the modern G.O.P., and have spent the past five or six years trying to bully monetary policy makers into ceasing and desisting from their efforts to prevent economic disaster.” This program highlights the far-right, fascistic forces underlying Eddie the Friendly Spook. Much of the program consists of excerpts of past programs, stretching back to the late 1990’s. The electronic “vacuum cleaner” approach of NSA and GCHQ has been on the public record for years. In the 1990’s NSA, GCHQ and the ECHELON/Five Eyes network came under joint assault by Germany and the Free Congress Foundation. The latter is very close to Nazi alumni of the Third Reich, the OUN/B in particular, and is an element deeply involved in projecting the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations back into the former U.S.S.R. and Eastern Europe. GOP bigwig Grover Norquist has been a vociferous opponent of NSA spying, as well as shepherding Muslim Brotherhood-linked elements in the United States. Program Highlights Include: Mr. Emory’s first post on “L’Affaire Snowden,” in which he wondered aloud what all the fuss was about, since this has been on the public record for years; review of the fact that other European countries do the same thing as NSA/GCHQ; Review of Snowden’s views on Social Security: ” . . . Snow­den wrote that the elderly ‘wouldn’t be fuck­ing help­less if you weren’t send­ing them fuck­ing checks to sit on their ass and lay in hos­pi­tals all day.’ ”


FTR #867 Because They Can, Part 3: Fireside Rant about Technocratic Fascism as “Cyber-Crowleyism”

Continuing discussion from FTR #866, we develop various manifestations of libertarian, technocratic fascism. Celebrated by Silicon Valley executives and elevated to power (in part), by EBay chief Pierre Omidyar, Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist/fascist government has been suppressing free speech, lauding Mahatma Gandhi’s killer as a patriot, murdering critics and turning a blind eye to lethal mob violence directed against Muslims for allegedly slaughtering cows. Capitalizing on Snowden’s activities, the very financial institutions that precipitated the 2008 financial collapse are employing a secure, end-to-end encryption messaging system that will enable them to evade regulatory scrutiny. The laissez-faire, corporatist economic philosophy embraced by Modi is at one with the values of Edward Snowden, Julian Assange, the Tea Party and the GOP as a whole, the advocates of Bitcoin, and the pirates of Wall Street. Program Highlights Include: a comparison of the social philosophies of Assange and Snowden with those of the SS; review of Modi’s move to undermine India’s child labor laws; review of the frightening possibilities of “smart contracts;” review of Bitcoin as “cyber-offshoring.”


FTR #866 Because They Can, Part 2: More about Technocratic Fascism

Although high-tech can be an enlightening, entertaining development offering remarkable possibilities for improving human existence, there exists another, sinister potential. Many big tech firms and coders of various types don’t play well with others–they embody another ethic: ” . . . . [they are] telling us that coders don’t just have good things to con­tribute to the polit­i­cal world, but that the polit­i­cal world is theirs to do with what they want, and the rest of us should stay out of it. . . .” Potentially realizing the wet dream of powerful economic elites, crypto-currencies like Bitcoin are seen as circumventing the ability of nation states to tax in what might be termed as “cyber-offshoring.” Such a development would spell doom for nation-states. Major financial firms implicated in the crash of 2008 have circumvented regulators with their end-to-end encryption service called “symphony.” Ethereum CEO Gavin Wood enthuses about the possibilities of smart-contracts: ” . . . illicit activ­ity enabled by Ethereum could change the world, he says. . . .” Program Highlights Include: Target stores’ introduction of robot workers after employees voted to unionize; Hindu fascist Narendra Modi’s courting of Silicon Valley at the same time as he works to undermine India’s child labor laws; Ethereum’s technology enabling: the assassination of political leaders, the vandalizing of websites, the subversion of any form of state regulation and the technological replacement of lawyers and other administrators. Low-wage workers aren’t the only ones facing replacement by digital technology.


The Big Bitcoin Bet, Part 2: Big Money to Buy Bitcoin, and Other Bad Ideas

2014 could have been better for Bitcoin. After peaking near $1100 in December 2013, Bitcoin is currently under $250. 2014 was not a good year for Bitcoin.

But that doesn’t mean 2015 has to be the same. And if a slew of recent announcement involving some very big investors are any indication of what to expect, the mainstreaming Bitcoin is about to get a big boost. But that boost could come with a big price too. All those “microtransactions” of as little as 0.000000001 of one bitcoin (BTC) that much of the Bitcoin community hates so much is precisely what these deep pocketed interests are planning on promoting in a big way. And in order to make it all happen, they might have to become some of the biggest bitcoin miners around too. And that means the future of Bitcoin is increasing in the hands of ‘The Man’. Also, the microtransactions might be used to monetize how we access the web. And how the Internet of Things spies on us. It doesn’t actually sound very fun.


FTR #807 Update on the Adventures of Eddie the Friendly Spook

Updating “L’Affaire Snowden,” this program supplements information about the economic damage done to the American IT sector by Snowden’s disclosures. Snowden’s “op” was, among other things, an act of economic warfare against the U.S.–a “psy-op” designed to provide gravitas for a pre-determined German and Brazilian effort to upgrade their own IT sectors at the expense of the U.S. Other points of information include: more documentation of the effort by Facebook and other U.S. tech firms to data mine their customers to an extraordinary extent; Glenn Greenwald’s continued efforts on behalf of fascists of various stripes; the extreme sensitivity of documents given by Snowden to individuals and institutions not not authorized to receive such important information; Germany’s “accidental” spying on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton; counter-intelligence sparring by the CIA, NSA, GCHQ and BND.


Update on Eddie the Friendly Spook’s Economic Warfare against the U.S.

Snowden–whom we think is being directed by BND (as well as by an element of CIA)–engaged in his “op” in order to justify a pre-arranged economic offensive against the American IT sector. As we noted in our series on Eddie the Friendly Spook, the Snowden “op” is an act of economic and political warfare against the United States. Now, we note an article that chronicles serious damage to the U.S. high-tech economy as a result of Snowden’s “op.”