Facebook

Facebook: Colonialism 2.0

Posted on Updated on

New Eastern Outlook
by Tony Cartalucci

5553222The Western media has attempted to portray Mark Zuckerberg’s ambitious plan to get every human being online as altruistic at first, but later revealed as simply what could be called “profitable empathy.” In reality however, the truth is much more sinister, with Facebook already revealed to be much more than a mere corporation run by Zuckerberg and his “ideas”

Facebook is the pinnacle of social engineering, an online operant conditioning chamber – also known as a Skinner box – that is being used to track, trace, document, and manipulate half of the entire online population. Despite users attempting to utilize Facebook to connect and communicate with individuals and organizations of interest, Facebook has turned its features against users, insidiously manipulating their timelines to show selected posts and updates while “soft censoring” others to manage public perception.

“Studies” have even been published proving the effectiveness of Facebook’s unethical social engineering. In one study, the emotions of users were successfully manipulated by selectively posting only negative or only positive posts from individuals or organizations on users’ contact lists.

A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) titled, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” stated in its abstract that (emphasis added):

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues. Not only are the findings troubling – illustrating that Facebook possesses the ability to influence the emotions of its users unwittingly through careful manipulation of their news feeds – but the invasive, unethical methods by which Facebook conducted the experiment are troubling as well.

In another experiment Facebook manipulated the news feed of some 2 million Americans in 2012 in order to increase public participation during that year’s US presidential election.

Facebook was also an official sponsor of the US State Department’s training program preparing political subversion across North Africa and the Middle East years before the so-called “Arab Spring” unfolded. The very activists audiences around the world were told “spontaneously” sprung up across North Africa and the Middle East were in fact trained, funded, and equipped by the US State Department and various corporations including tech giants Google and Facebook years beforehand.

Turning a Network of Information into a One-Way Propaganda Pipeline

The implications of an Internet commandeered by a conglomerate of Wall Street and Washington special interests is the mitigation of user-driven content and the retrenchment of information consumerism.

Television “programming” could be perceived as both the process of programming what will appear on TV, but also could be perceived as programming the minds of those consuming television. TV, being a one-way process, effectively eliminates competing ideas and limits the scope of information down to only what those who control television networks want audiences to see and hear. It is clear that Facebook is part of a process to turn the Internet into a similar one-way experience.  

As a result of Facebook’s successful experiments in social engineering, including the very successful political subversion carried out across the Arab World – subversion still ravaging the region to this day –  Facebook and the corporate-financier interests behind it seek to put the entire planet within this increasingly insidious, pervasive, and one-way network. 

The Bait and Switch 

4534534522Time Magazine’s article, “The Man Who Wired the World,” claims Facebook’s “crusade” to get the entire human population online is merely business. What is described however is a global campaign to produce content offline users will care enough about to get online, where Facebook believes it will be only inevitable that they end up on Facebook as well to share that content. Time’s article would state specifically (emphasis added): 

Here’s the idea. First, you look at a particular geographical region that’s underserved, Internet-wise, and figure out what content might be compelling enough to lure its inhabitants online. Then you gather that content up, make sure it’s in the right language and wrap it up in a slick app. Then you go to the local cell-phone providers and convince as many of them as possible that they should offer the content in your app for free, with no data charges. There you go: anybody who has a data-capable phone has Internet access—or at least access to a curated, walled sliver of the Internet—for free. 

This isn’t hypothetical: Internet.org released this app in Zambia in July. It launched in Tanzania in October. In Zambia, the app’s content offerings include AccuWeather, Wikipedia, Google Search, the Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action—there’s a special emphasis on women’s rights and women’s health—and a few job-listing sites. And Facebook. A company called Airtel (the local subsidiary of an Indian telco) agreed to offer access for nothing. “I think about it like 911 in the U.S.,” Zuckerberg says. “You don’t have to have a phone plan, but if there’s an emergency, if there’s a fire or you’re getting robbed, you can always call and get access to those kinds of basic services. And I kind of think there should be that for the Internet too.”

Already, these free applications include Western-driven agendas and of course access to Facebook which is now confirmed to be insidiously manipulating user perception.

Indeed, while “free Internet access” through such apps seems “liberating” and “empowering,” Facebook does not let users freely share content. Under the guise of managing cluttered timelines for users, Facebook has already begun involuntarily filtering what posts users will see from accounts they are following, indicating that their manipulative experiments have now become a permanent matter of policy. Facebook’s own explanation of this policy is as follows:

Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

Facebook’s “world plan” then, seeks to plug the entire human population into a highly manipulative Skinner box through a bait and switch campaign to lure people online to seek what interests them before Facebook takes over and displays information Facebook itself determines “interests them.” 

Far from a college kid with an overgrown corporation, what Facebook is doing is the manifestation of every tyranny’s dream scenario since the beginning of human history – a means by which to completely and insidiously manipulate and control the minds of its subjects. 

Don’t Protest Facebook, Displace It 

To counteract what is clearly the next step in Facebook’s unethical and unchecked plague-like spread across the Internet, nations individually should produce their own alternatives to Facebook and work to get their populations online on their own terms before Facebook and the interests driving it do. Likewise, locally, communities must begin devising their own information networks including mesh networks and local Internets with local and open source alternatives to Facebook, Google, and other corporations exercising the same unwarranted power and influence online that bankers and industrialist exercise over traditional society.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazineNew Eastern Outlook”.

New Eastern Outlook

Don’t Replace Facebook, Disrupt It

Posted on Updated on

LocalOrg
by Tony Cartalucci


Facebook is a problem. It is undoubtedly being used by special interests to manipulate and monitor entire populations both within the United States and well beyond. It represents a tool that in no way serves the people actually using it, and instead allows special interests to use the users. It is a dream global panopticon for the abusive dictators that run Western society and presume dominion over what they call an “international order.”

But in order to counter this threat, Facebook cannot simply be “replaced.” It specifically, and what it represents, must be disrupted entirely.

Facebook is a Skinner Box for Humans 


Facebook has been at the center of several recent controversies that are increasingly leaving users disillusioned and in search of alternatives. At the center of these controversies is Facebook’s “news feed” feature. Ideally, news feed would work by showing on your timeline updates from those individuals and organizations you follow. There are two options for news feed – “most recent” and “top stories.” Facebook has decided to upend this feature by insidiously controlling what appears on your news feed regardless of which option you select. 


Now, you will no longer receive regular updates from accounts you follow, and instead will see a “filtered” version determined by Facebook’s algorithms. Many Facebook users are unaware of this fact and are perplexed as to why they are no longer receiving regular updates from accounts they follow.

Facebook’s own explanation as to why they’ve implemented this policy is as follows:

Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

Facebook’s real motivation is more likely a combination of implementing soft-censorship and an effort to monetize news feeds by forcing content makers to pay in order to access people already following them. What’s left is wealthy content makers like large corporate media outfits monopolizing the public’s attention whether the public wants it or not. 

News feed has also been used in at least two involuntary social engineering experiments where the news feeds of users were manipulated without their knowledge to influence them psychologically. In the most recently exposed experiment, Facebook manipulated the news feed of some 2 million Americans in 2012 in order to increase public participation during that year’s US presidential election.  

In 2013, Facebook would again manipulate news feeds of unwitting users to influence them psychologically. A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) titled, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” stated in its abstract that: 

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.Not only are the findings troubling – illustrating that Facebook possesses the ability to influence the emotions of its users unwittingly through careful manipulation of their news feeds – but the invasive, unethical methods by which Facebook conducted the experiment are troubling as well.

Those involved in the experiment were neither notified before nor after the experiment was conducted, and along with news feed manipulation during the 2012 election, it appears Facebook sees the news feed feature in terms of influencing people as Facebook and its clients see fit rather than the feature being used to inform users as they themselves see fit.  

What Facebook is essentially is a massive, global, digital “Skinner box.” Also known as a operant conditioning chamber, a Skinner box conditions a subject – usually an animal –  to perform certain behaviors by controlling positive and negative stimuli regulated within the box. Pressing the correct lever would provide, for example, food pellets, while pressing the wrong lever would provide a painful electric shock.

Facebook, in this way, admits it regulated positive and negative stimuli in its 2013 experiment and in 2012 manipulated the behavior of subjects also through the use of specifically formulated stimuli. There is no telling what other experiments or ongoing manipulations Facebook users might be subjected to, and whether or not other IT monopolies like Google are using similar means to influence, manipulate, and condition the behavior of users. 


Disrupting Facebook


The first thing many Facebook users look for upon learning of this are alternatives. One in particular, Ello, grabbed headlines recently as a “Facebook killer.” Should Facebook’s 1 billion plus user base migrate over to Ello, would there be anything to stop special interests from simply co-opting and corrupting its basic premise of not manipulating users or invading their privacy? Most likely not.

Instead, efforts to disrupt Facebook and the centralized social networking premise it represents should be made. In other words, decentralizing social networking so that no single network controls the information, rules, and regulations that define social networking in general. 


On a global scale this is already being done. Nations like Russia, China, Iran, and others have produced their own indigenous versions of Facebook – separate from not only Facebook’s monopoly, but the intrusive, abusive exploitation of that monopoly by corporate-financier interests on Wall Street and in the City of London. Russia’s VK.com for example, boasts 120 million users around the world and within Russia itself, is the most popular social networking site, by far eclipsing Facebook’s market share. While the Western media criticizes VK as a tool of the Kremlin, in light of recent scandals exposed in the West, the same could be said of Wall Street and London’s use of Facebook.


But decentralizing Facebook’s grip on social networking to a national scale isn’t enough. While many may find affinity toward the current political order in Russia, some day that may no longer be the case. Further decentralization – in fact – infinite decentralization should be the ultimate goal.

Forums, Websites, and RSS Analogies 


Web forums are numerous and in many ways micro social networks in and of themselves. They are built around interests in entertainment, skills and hobbies, commerce, political ideology, religion, and many other personal interests. While one must become a member of these forums to participate, anyone can search the Internet and find threads containing useful information. It would be difficult to find the “Facebook” of Internet forums – because while there are very large and well-known forums – there is no monopoly.

Creating a new social networking paradigm based along a similar notion of infinite decentralization is not only possible, it is inevitable – just as soon as programmers and developers stop trying to create the next “Facebook” and begin contemplating instead the next paradigm shift in social networking altogether – one that satisfies the growing desire to escape monopolized networks with proclivities toward invading the privacy of its users as well as manipulating and influencing them through insidious social engineering. 


Imagine open source tools like Wiki or WordPress that allows anyone to create their own social network based around any specific interest or series of interests. Imagine tools like RSS feed that allows users from one social network to follow user updates on another social network without actually joining that network. Imagine being able to take your information and import it into a new social network if for whatever reason you decided you no longer like the rules, regulations, and practices of the network you were currently in – tools like WordPress’ import options that allow Blogger users to migrate over along with all their previous Blogger content. 


Image: What will come next? Another Facebook or something that will shift the paradigm of social networking entirely? Centralized networks are prone to abuse. Even networks like Ello that initially show promise hold the same weakness of over-centralization which will undoubtedly be targeted by special interests. A decentralized social networking paradigm with tools used to mesh networks together as users desire could represent just such a shift.

Facebook and undoubtedly VK and other large social networks have various groups of disenfranchised users who are unable to use these networks as they truly desire. Facebook has faced criticism for demanding users to use their real names to create profiles. Minority groups that prefer anonymity could create their own social network to cater specifically to their interests and agenda. They could follow popular feeds from other social networks, but preserve their own community created by, for, and of themselves. 


In this way, instead of simply trying to replace Facebook with the next soon-to-be co-opted, corrupted, and overbearing social networking monopoly, the entire paradigm will be shifted in favor of what users actually want – privacy, the ability to control what content they receive, and to associate with whom they want, how they want. With hundreds if not thousands of these interconnected but ultimately independent networks cropping up, it will be impossible for monopolistic interests to co-opt, control, or censor them all, or even a majority of them.  

LocalOrg

Facebook Boosts News Feeds of Top 100 Media Outlets in Secret Political Experiment

Posted on Updated on

Activist Post
by Eric Blair



What is the point of a social network that doesn’t share your content with friends and followers? Oh, yeah, for profit, government spying, emotional experiments and now, political manipulation.

Since they went public, Facebook has been playing with their algorithms to prevent “viral” content from occurring naturally in favor of charging users to show content to their followers. This profit-seeking strategy destroyed the only thing that made Facebook useful. Now it seems to serve as little more than an oversized telephone or IM app. But underneath, in the shadows, it’s still so much more than that.

Mother Jones reports that Facebook has been conducting stealthy political experiments on users, including tweaking the news feeds of almost 2 million users to boost articles shared from the top 100 media outfits. The purpose was to test voter turnout in the 2012 election.

As Huffington Post summarizes:

Facebook quietly tweaked the news feeds of 1.9 million users before the 2012 election so they would see more “hard news” shared by friends.

That change may have boosted voter turnout by as much as 3 percent, according to a little-known study first disclosed Friday by Mother Jones.

For the study, news articles that Facebook users’ friends had posted appeared higher in their feeds — the stream of status updates, photos and articles that show up when you first sign on to the site. The researchers wanted to see whether increasing your exposure to news stories shared by friends before an election would convince you to vote.

Facebook said the news stories being shared were general in nature and not political. They came were from a list of 100 top media outlets from the New York Times to Fox News, according to the Mother Jones story, written by Micah Sifry, a democracy activist.

Lost in the reporting about this voting experiment is how dangerous it is to only boost establishment news feeds for political outcomes. What if they switch to only boosting GOP or Democrat news feeds? Could they sway elections?

We already know they can sway users’ emotions without their knowledge.

As Huffington Post points out:

The revelation of the voter experiment comes four months after the social network was criticized for conducting a separate psychological experiment on about 700,000 users.

More on this study in the short video below:

Illegal or not, these experiments will likely continue in secret. Incidentally, it is well known that Facebook was funded by the CIA’s “not for profit” venture capital firm In-Q-Tel leading many to believe it’s a data collection hub for the U.S. government.

Facebook has clearly demonstrated that they dictate what you see in your news feed, not your social media friends. And they intend to continue to manipulate you in secret. Most troubling is that they’re targeting your emotions and political reality.

Activist Post

A ‘No Social Media List’ For Extremists And Potential Terrorists?

Posted on Updated on

The American Dream
by Michael Snyder

Social Media - Public DomainYou have heard of the “No Fly List”, right?  Well, now the Tories are pledging that if they win the next election in the UK they will establish a list of “extremists” that will have to have their social media posts “approved in advance by the police” before they post them.  There are also plans to ban “extremists” from broadcasting and speaking at public events.  The stated goal of these proposals is to crack down on terrorism, but in the process the civil liberties of the British people are going to be flushed down the toilet.  And the American people need to pay close attention to what is going on in the UK, because whatever police state measures are implemented over there usually also get implemented over here eventually.  For those that believe that we need to do “whatever it takes” to fight terrorism, there is a very important question that you need to ask yourself.  What if the government decides that you are an “extremist” because of what you believe?  What will you do then?

When I saw a report in the Telegraph today entitled “Extremists to have Facebook and Twitter vetted by anti-terror police“, I could hardly believe it.

Do the British people actually want a “no social media list” that will essentially ban people from using Facebook and Twitter even though they haven’t actually been convicted of doing anything wrong?

The following is a brief excerpt from that article

Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.

They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will lay out plans to allow judges to ban people from broadcasting or protesting in certain places, as well as associating with specific people.

The plans — to be brought in if the Conservatives win the election in May — are part of a wide-ranging set of rules to strengthen the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.

This sounds like an Orwellian nightmare for the British people.

And who is an “extremist” anyway?

We are being told that those that belong to ISIS are extremists, and nobody would argue that.

But the article in the Telegraph makes it sound like any group “that spreads or promotes hatred” would be considered extremist.  And under these new proposals, even belonging to such a group could get you thrown into prison for up to 10 years

The Home Secretary will also introduce “banning orders” for extremist groups, which would make it a criminal offence to be a member of or raise funds for a group that spreads or promotes hatred. The maximum sentence could be up to 10 years in prison.

So what does all of that exactly mean?

Would anti-abortion groups be considered “extremist”?

Would groups promoting traditional values be considered “extremist”?

Would groups protesting against the abuses of the British government be considered “extremist”?

Would Christian churches ultimately be considered “extremist” because they don’t agree with the radical liberal agenda of the central government?

Essentially what the Tories propose to do is to tightly regulate all speech.  And there is no way to do that without turning the entire United Kingdom into a totalitarian hellhole.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to march down a similar road.

For example, we now live in an environment where a 16-year-old kid can be suspended from school and arrested by the police for writing a story “about using a gun to shoot a dinosaur”

In another case of school officials adhering to ridiculous zero tolerance policies, a student from South Carolina was suspended and arrested by police recently after writing an imaginative story about using a gun to shoot a dinosaur.

The offender, 16-year-old Alex Stone of Summerville High School in a suburb of Charleston was in the course of completing an assignment where students were asked to write something brief about themselves, much like Facebook status updates.

Stone told reporters that he found himself in hot water with teachers for being over imaginative and mentioning the word ‘gun’.

This is utter insanity, and it is getting worse with each passing day.

And it is not just kids that have to deal with this kind of thing.  A Big Brother police state control grid is being slowly constructed all around us.  And authorities are preparing for the day when they will have to use lethal force to keep the population in line.  Just check out the following excerpt from a recent Infowars report

A document released by the U.S. Army details preparations for “full scale riots” within the United States during which troops may be forced to engage in a “lethal response” to deal with unruly crowds of demonstrators.

The appearance of the document amidst growing unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, with the National Guard now being called in to deal with the disorder, is an ominous coincidence.

The 132-page document, titled U.S. Army Techniques Publication 3-39.33: Civil Disturbances (PDF), was written in April 2014 and recently obtained by Public Intelligence.

The document makes it clear that the techniques detailed therein are to be applied both outside and inside the “continental United States (CONUS)” in the event of “unruly and violent crowds” where it is “necessary to quell riots and restore public order.”

The training manual outlines scenarios under which, “Civil unrest may range from simple, nonviolent protests that address specific issues, to events that turn into full-scale riots.”

So precisely who is the government so concerned about anyway?

If ISIS and other Islamic terror groups are the problem, why train to fight against Americans?

Sadly, the truth is that much of the focus in the “war on terror” has been turned inward during the Obama administration.  Many officials in the federal government now insist that “homegrown terror” is the greatest threat that we face.

And you may be quite surprised to learn who the government considers “potential terrorists” to be.  The following is an extended excerpt from my previous article entitled “72 Types Of Americans That Are Considered “Potential Terrorists” In Official Government Documents“…

*****

Below is a list of 72 types of Americans that are considered to be “extremists” and “potential terrorists” in official U.S. government documents.  To see the original source document for each point, just click on the link.  As you can see, this list covers most of the country…

1. Those that talk about “individual liberties”

2. Those that advocate for states’ rights

3. Those that want “to make the world a better place”

4. “The colonists who sought to free themselves from British rule”

5. Those that are interested in “defeating the Communists”

6. Those that believe “that the interests of one’s own nation are separate from the interests of other nations or the common interest of all nations”

7. Anyone that holds a “political ideology that considers the state to be unnecessary, harmful,or undesirable”

8. Anyone that possesses an “intolerance toward other religions”

9. Those that “take action to fight against the exploitation of the environment and/or animals”

10. “Anti-Gay”

11. “Anti-Immigrant”

12. “Anti-Muslim”

13. “The Patriot Movement”

14. “Opposition to equal rights for gays and lesbians”

15. Members of the Family Research Council

16. Members of the American Family Association

17. Those that believe that Mexico, Canada and the United States “are secretly planning to merge into a European Union-like entity that will be known as the ‘North American Union’”

18. Members of the American Border Patrol/American Patrol

19. Members of the Federation for American Immigration Reform

20. Members of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition

21. Members of the Christian Action Network

22. Anyone that is “opposed to the New World Order”

23. Anyone that is engaged in “conspiracy theorizing”

24. Anyone that is opposed to Agenda 21

25. Anyone that is concerned about FEMA camps

26. Anyone that “fears impending gun control or weapons confiscations”

27. The militia movement

28. The sovereign citizen movement

29. Those that “don’t think they should have to pay taxes”

30. Anyone that “complains about bias”

31. Anyone that “believes in government conspiracies to the point of paranoia”

32. Anyone that “is frustrated with mainstream ideologies”

33. Anyone that “visits extremist websites/blogs”

34. Anyone that “establishes website/blog to display extremist views”

35. Anyone that “attends rallies for extremist causes”

36. Anyone that “exhibits extreme religious intolerance”

37. Anyone that “is personally connected with a grievance”

38. Anyone that “suddenly acquires weapons”

39. Anyone that “organizes protests inspired by extremist ideology”

40. “Militia or unorganized militia”

41. “General right-wing extremist”

42. Citizens that have “bumper stickers” that are patriotic or anti-U.N.

43. Those that refer to an “Army of God”

44. Those that are “fiercely nationalistic (as opposed to universal and international in orientation)”

45. Those that are “anti-global”

46. Those that are “suspicious of centralized federal authority”

47. Those that are “reverent of individual liberty”

48. Those that “believe in conspiracy theories”

49. Those that have “a belief that one’s personal and/or national ‘way of life’ is under attack”

50. Those that possess “a belief in the need to be prepared for an attack either by participating in paramilitary preparations and training or survivalism”

51. Those that would “impose strict religious tenets or laws on society (fundamentalists)”

52. Those that would “insert religion into the political sphere”

53. Anyone that would “seek to politicize religion”

54. Those that have “supported political movements for autonomy”

55. Anyone that is “anti-abortion”

56. Anyone that is “anti-Catholic”

57. Anyone that is “anti-nuclear”

58. “Rightwing extremists”

59. “Returning veterans”

60. Those concerned about “illegal immigration”

61. Those that “believe in the right to bear arms”

62. Anyone that is engaged in “ammunition stockpiling”

63. Anyone that exhibits “fear of Communist regimes”

64. “Anti-abortion activists”

65. Those that are against illegal immigration

66. Those that talk about “the New World Order” in a “derogatory” manner

67. Those that have a negative view of the United Nations

68. Those that are opposed “to the collection of federal income taxes”

69. Those that supported former presidential candidates Ron Paul, Chuck Baldwin and Bob Barr

70. Those that display the Gadsden Flag (“Don’t Tread On Me”)

71. Those that believe in “end times” prophecies

72. Evangelical Christians

*****

Are you starting to understand?

When government officials speak of the need to crack down on “extremists” and “potential terrorists”, that is a very dangerous thing.

The truth is that they could be talking about you.

The American Dream

Beware: Facebook’s “Soft Censorship”

Posted on Updated on

LocalOrg
by Tony Cartalucci

The Land Destroyer Report maintained a Facebook page under the name Anthony Cartalucci. Since 2009 it was used to express my personal thoughts regarding the news of the day, as well as share relevant links with followers. Today, Facebook, without warning or opportunity to appeal, decided that the Facebook account must be changed over to a “page.” By doing so, all those following my account no longer would receive updates, because of Facebook’s “news feed” filters.

The premise behind news feed filters is that people have too many “friends” and are following too many accounts, so they can’t possibly manage all the content themselves. Therefore, Facebook will do it for them. We already know about the Facebook “experiment” where they intentionally manipulated the news feed of hundreds of thousands of Facebook users without their consent.

A report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS) titled, “Experimental evidence of massive-scale emotional contagion through social networks,” stated in its abstract that:

We show, via a massive (N = 689,003) experiment on Facebook, that emotional states can be transferred to others via emotional contagion, leading people to experience the same emotions without their awareness. We provide experimental evidence that emotional contagion occurs without direct interaction between people (exposure to a friend expressing an emotion is sufficient), and in the complete absence of nonverbal cues.Not only are the findings troubling – illustrating that Facebook possesses the ability to influence the emotions of its users unwittingly through careful manipulation of their news feeds – but the invasive, unethical methods by which Facebook conducted the experiment are troubling as well.

Clearly manipulating users’ news feeds possesses powerful propaganda and mass-manipulative influence – surely influence those with the resources would be willing to pay for. And that is exactly what Facebook has arranged for with their new “reach” system. Facebook’s own explanation is as follows:

Rather than showing people all possible content, News Feed is designed to show each person on Facebook the content that’s most relevant to them. Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

Those involuntarily forced to switch from standard accounts over to “pages” will notice the “boost” feature below each post. This is where you are required to pay Facebook money to ensure people who voluntarily followed you to receive content from you, actually receive it. Obviously, this confers a major advantage to well-funded start-ups, established media outlets, and large, corporate-driven propaganda machines. For the independent or freelance journalist, analyst, or activist, Facebook has gone from an open platform to a cage of soft censorship.

Image: Taken from a paper outlining Facebook’s experiment where over half a million users were unwittingly manipulated via their news feed. Clearly Facebook possesses the ability to manipulate users, not only with what they see and don’t see, but how they perceive the world around them – a power they have now put up for sale, benefiting to no one’s surprise the very special interests that have worked with Facebook to reign in the Internet’s liberating power. 

Special interests will have no trouble reaching the maximum amount of people following their accounts on Facebook. Those opposed to these special interests, generally average citizens with limited resources who want to use the Internet to magnify their voice, will not be able to compete in this newly rigged system where a handful of their thousands of followers are ever “allowed” by Facebook to view content they voluntarily elected to see.

Facebook takes freedom from its users, considering them incapable of determining for themselves who to follow and what to read, as well as censors unique, alternative perspectives operating on the shores of corporate-financier cash flow and the mass media that floats upon it. It is a spectacular achievement in the field of censorship – with special interests never having to directly block, silence, or imprison dissidents, but rather simply rig the system so they cannot be heard. It is the birth of soft censorship.

What to Do?

First, people must realize that now they may not be getting all the news and information they have subscribed to when using Facebook. They should investigate other services out there that do not filter feeds like RSS and Twitter. 

Image: Ironically, the “suit case internet” designed to be employed
in “dictatorships” abroad by the US State Department might be a
technique bested used against encroaching, soft censorship right
in America itself. 
Also, people must realize that Facebook, Google, and other IT monopolies are literally controlling what they see – a modern day allegory of the cave, a Matrix-style virtual world where the perception of reality is defined by a handful of special interests without anyone really even being conscious of it – just as Facebook’s experiment proved. It is essential that people become aware of this, disconnect or distance themselves from it, and find alternative ways to communicate.

Facebook’s prominence as a means of communication should be shifted to the periphery by users genuinely interested in news and receiving the information they have freely chosen to receive, while other, more dependable and transparent services take center stage.

And just like when other overbearing, manipulative, and invasive social media services began overstepping their bounds and working against the best interests of users, Facebook has opened the door to alternatives that respond to what users want, rather than dictating to them how they will interact. MySpace, Hi5, and others have come and gone because of overbearing terms of services and for failing to meet the needs of users – Facebook should fare no differently.

Finally, telecommunications and the Internet in particular are still entirely too centralized and in the grip of large monopolies to be truly used in best interests of the majority. Telecommunications and information technology need to be decentralized at the local level, with people educating themselves in a wide variety of open source alternatives and ways of protecting infrastructure and the freedom it has granted us in balancing the equation between the people and corporate-financier special interests that seek to dominate them.

Follow LandDestroyer on Twitter where currently feeds are not manipulated or censored  @LandDestroyer or LocalOrg at @LocalOrgInfo. 

LocalOrg

The Worst Trolls On The Internet Are The Government Trolls

Posted on

The American Dream
by Michael Snyder

Troll Warning - Photo by GilWe have all run into them.  All over the Internet, there are horrible trolls that seem to delight in making life miserable for other people.  But the worst trolls of all are the government trolls.  And thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have some startling new evidence of what really goes on behind the scenes.  According to newly revealed documents, British spy agency GCHQ is manipulating online discussions, infiltrating the computers of specific targets, purposely destroying reputations, altering the results of online polls, and using Twitter, Facebook and YouTube for propaganda and espionage purposes.  If people don’t start getting outraged about this now, the governments of the western world are going to see it as a green light to do even more.  Eventually, it might get so bad that we won’t be able to trust much of anything that we see on the Internet.

There is a lot about the Internet that is really awful, but one great thing about it is the fact that it has allowed average individuals to communicate on a mass scale unlike ever before.  As the general population has become aware of how powerful of a tool the Internet can be, the elite have become extremely alarmed.  Unlike so many other things in our society, it has not been something that they have been able to easily control.

But the elite have been starting to catch up to all of this new technology and are learning how to use it for their own purposes.  Thanks to Snowden, we now have a list of specific tools that GCHQ has been using to manipulate the Internet.  The following is a short excerpt from a recent ZDNet article about these new revelations…

*****

A number of interesting tools and their short descriptions are below:

  • ASTRAL PROJECTION: Remote GSM secure covert Internet proxy using TOR hidden service
  • POISON ARROW: Safe malware download capability
  • AIRWOLF: YouTube profile, comment and video collection
  • BIRDSTRIKE: Twitter monitoring and profile collection
  • GLASSBACK: Technique of getting a target’s IP address by pretending to be a spammer and ringing them. Target does not need to answer.
  • MINIATURE HERO: Active skype capability. Provision of realtime call records (SkypeOut and SkypetoSkype) and bidirectional instant messaging. Also contact lists.
  • PHOTON TORPEDO: A technique to actively grab the IP address of MSN messenger user
  • SPRING-BISHOP: Finding private photos of targets on Facebook
  • BOMB BAY: The capacity to increase website hits, rankings
  • BURLESQUE: The capacity to send spoofed SMS messages
  • GESTATOR: Amplification of a given message, normally video, on popular multimedia websites (YouTube)
  • SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE: Perfect spoofing of emails from Blackberry targets
  • SUNBLOCK: Ability to deny functionality to send/receive email or view material online
  • SWAMP DONKEY: A tool that will silently locate all predefined types of file and encrypt them on a targets machine
  • UNDERPASS: Change outcome of online polls (previously known as NUBILO).
  • WARPATH: Mass delivery of SMS messages to support an Information Operations campaign.
  • HUSK: Secure one-on-one web based dead-drop messaging platform.

The list, dated from 2012, says that most of the tools are “fully operational, tested and reliable,” and adds: “Don’t treat this like a catalogue. If you don’t see it here, it doesn’t mean we can’t build it.”

*****

If we are going to have a free and open society, then we simply cannot have the governments of the western world running around systematically manipulating the Internet for their own purposes.

And of course it is not just the British that are doing this kind of thing.

Just recently, for example, the U.S. was caught manipulating discourse on Reddit and editing Wikipedia.

The rest of the world is watching all of this and they are absolutely disgusted with us.  The more that we act like Nazis, the more they are going to regard us as such.

At this point, even our closest friends are loudly denouncing us.  Germany just caught one U.S. spy, and a German newspaper claims that there are “dozens” of other CIA-recruited spies working in German ministries.

And the Germans have become so paranoid about the NSA spying on them that the German government is actually considering going back to using typewriters

Germany may go old school to guard against spying.

The German government will continue to use encrypted e-mails and phones, but it could also expand its use of typewriters, said Patrick Sensburg, the head of the German parliament’s investigation into U.S. spying, in an interview with German TV station ARD Monday, Reuters reports.

The Germans are even considering using non-electronic typewriters, Sensburg said.

Why we would spy on our closest friends is something that I will never understand.  And if we keep this up, soon we will not have any friends left at all.

Fortunately, an increasing number of Americans are becoming fed up with the growing tyranny all around us.  I love how John W. Whitehead expressed his frustrations in his recent article about the emerging police state in America…

I don’t like being subjected to scans, searches, pat downs and other indignities by the TSA. I don’t like VIPR raids on so-called “soft” targets like shopping malls and bus depots by black-clad, Darth Vader look-alikes. I don’t like fusion centers, which represent the combined surveillance efforts of federal, state and local law enforcement.

I don’t like laws that criminalize Americans for otherwise lawful activities such as holding religious studies at home, growing vegetables in their yard, and collecting rainwater. I don’t like the NDAA, which allows the president and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely. I don’t like the Patriot Act, which opened the door to all manner of government abuses and intrusions on our privacy.

I don’t like the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which has become America’s standing army. I don’t like military weapons such as armored vehicles, sound cannons and the like being used against the American citizens. I don’t like government agencies such as the DHS, Post Office, Social Security Administration and Wildlife stocking up on hollow-point bullets. And I definitely don’t like the implications of detention centers being built that could house American citizens.

The people of the western world need to stand up and say enough is enough.

Are we going to stay silent as the integrity of the Internet is destroyed?

Are we going to stay silent while the Internet is transformed into a government propaganda tool?

Are we going to stay silent while the liberties and freedoms that we have left are systematically shredded?

If you do not like the direction that all of this is going, now is the time to let your voice be heard.

The American Dream

U.S. Military Funds Studies on How to Influence Social Media Use

Posted on Updated on

The New American
by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.

The military is turning social media into a laboratory for its thought and emotion control experiments — experiments forcibly funded by the American taxpayer.

In an article published July 8, the Guardian reports:

The activities of users of Twitter and other social media services were recorded and analysed as part of a major project funded by the US military, in a program that covers ground similar to Facebook’s controversial experiment into how to control emotions by manipulating news feeds.

Research funded directly or indirectly by the US Department of Defense’s military research department, known as Darpa, has involved users of some of the internet’s largest destinations, including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Kickstarter, for studies of social connections and how messages spread.

For years, this reporter has covered the various projects carried out by DARPA, including a $30 million program to implant veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) with small electronic sensors that will map their brains.

As part of its investigation of how to manipulate the behavior — online and off — of social media users, the military is collecting innumerable tweets, Facebook status updates, and other messages posted on various platforms: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.

The Pentagon’s plan to convert the Internet into its own personal workshop is ironic given the fact that it actually created Arpanet, the precursor to the platform known today as the Internet.

On the page of the DARPA website devoted to presenting papers and studies related to its “Social Media in Strategic Communication” program, the research and development group claims that the purpose of the project is “to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.”

Truthful information? The Guardian cities recent reports countering that claim:

Papers leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden indicate that US and British intelligence agencies have been deeply engaged in planning ways to covertly use social media for purposes of propaganda and deception.

Documents prepared by NSA and Britain’s GCHQ (and previously published by the Intercept as well as NBC News) revealed aspects of some of these programs. They included a unit engaged in “discrediting” the agency’s enemies with false information spread online.

Earlier this year, the Associated Press also revealed the clandestine creation by USAid of a Twitter-like, Cuban communications network to undermine the Havana government.

The network, built with secret shell companies and financed through a foreign bank, lasted more than two years and drew tens of thousands of subscribers. It sought to evade Cuba’s stranglehold on the internet with a primitive social media platform.

Just days ago, The New American reported on the Defense Department’s role in providing funding for a Facebook study aimed at measuring the ability to affect the emotions of users by controlling the stories that appear on their news feed.

The Guardian, in its exposé of the U.S. military’s role as financier of secret social media manipulation experiments, lists several such grants, including those awarded to the University of Michigan, the University of Southern California, and Georgia Tech.

Although the academics and scientists running the laboratories conducting the military-funded experiments claim that their purpose is simply to observe and report online activity, the Guardian lays out a more sinister goal of the government’s generous grant giving:

Several of the DoD-funded projects went further than simple observation, instead engaging directly with social media users and analysing their responses.

One of multiple studies looking into how to spread messages on the networks, titled “Who Will Retweet This? Automatically Identifying and Engaging Strangers on Twitter to Spread Information” did just this.

The researchers explained: “Since everyone is potentially an influencer on social media and is capable of spreading information, our work aims to identify and engage the right people at the right time on social media to help propagate information when needed.”

In the paper, which included data gathered through actively engaging 3,761 people on Twitter around the topics of public safety and bird flu, the researchers added: “Unlike existing work, which often uses only social network properties, our feature set includes personality traits that may influence one’s retweeting behaviour.” [British standard spelling retained in the quotations from the Guardian]

The relevant question is whether the Pentagon is measuring behavior or manipulating it. If the latter, then it seems likely that the ultimate aim could be the identification of those social media users whose online activity marks them as potential muckrakers.

The New American

What Your “Startlingly Intimate, Voyeristic” NSA File Looks Like

Posted on

Zero Hedge

A few days ago, we asked a simple rhetorical question: “Are you targeted by the NSA?

The answer, sadly for those reading this, is very likely yes, as it was revealed that as part of the NSA’s XKeyscore program “a computer network exploitation system, as described in an NSA presentation, devoted to gathering nearly everything a user does on the internet” all it takes for a user to be flagged by America’s superspooks is to go to a website the NSA finds less than “patriotic” and that user becomes a fixture for the NSA’s tracking algos.

So assuming one is being tracked by the NSA – or as it is also known for politically correct reasons “intercepted” – as a “person of interest” or worse, just what kind of data does the NSA collect? The latest report by the WaPo titled “In NSA-intercepted data, those not targeted far outnumber the foreigners who are” sheds much needed light on just how extensive the NSA’s data collection effort is.

According to WaPo, the files on intercepted Americans “have a startlingly intimate, even voyeuristic quality. They tell stories of love and heartbreak, illicit sexual liaisons, mental-health crises, political and religious conversions, financial anxieties and disappointed hopes. The daily lives of more than 10,000 account holders who were not targeted are catalogued and recorded nevertheless.”

The Post reviewed roughly 160,000 intercepted e-mail and instant-message conversations, some of them hundreds of pages long, and 7,900 documents taken from more than 11,000 online accounts.

Remember when the NSA said they only target foreigners, and only those who are of particular actionable interest? They lied.

Nine of 10 account holders found in a large cache of intercepted conversations, which former NSA contractor Edward Snowden provided in full to The Post, were not the intended surveillance targets but were caught in a net the agency had cast for somebody else.

 

Many of them were Americans. Nearly half of the surveillance files, a strikingly high proportion, contained names, e-mail addresses or other details that the NSA marked as belonging to U.S. citizens or residents. NSA analysts masked, or “minimized,” more than 65,000 such references to protect Americans’ privacy, but The Post found nearly 900 additional e-mail addresses, unmasked in the files, that could be strongly linked to U.S. citizens or U.S.residents.

Going back to “your” file:

Taken together, the files offer an unprecedented vantage point on the changes wrought by Section 702 of the FISA amendments, which enabled the NSA to make freer use of methods that for 30 years had required probable cause and a warrant from a judge. One program, code-named PRISM, extracts content stored in user accounts at Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, Google and five other leading Internet companies. Another, known inside the NSA as Upstream, intercepts data on the move as it crosses the U.S. junctions of global voice and data networks.

It gets worse, because that bed-wetting habit you kicked in the 2nd grade? The NSA knows all about it.

Among the latter are medical records sent from one family member to another, résumés from job hunters and academic transcripts of schoolchildren. In one photo, a young girl in religious dress beams at a camera outside a mosque.

 

Scores of pictures show infants and toddlers in bathtubs, on swings, sprawled on their backs and kissed by their mothers. In some photos, men show off their physiques. In others, women model lingerie, leaning suggestively into a webcam or striking risque poses in shorts and bikini tops.

How many Americans may be tracked by the NSA at any one time? Turns out ther answer is lots:

The Obama administration declines to discuss the scale of incidental collection. The NSA, backed by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., has asserted that it is unable to make any estimate, even in classified form, of the number of Americans swept in. It is not obvious why the NSA could not offer at least a partial count, given that its analysts routinely pick out “U.S. persons” and mask their identities, in most cases, before distributing intelligence reports.

 

If Snowden’s sample is representative, the population under scrutiny in the PRISM and Upstream programs is far larger than the government has suggested. In a June 26 “transparency report,” the Office of the Director of National Intelligence disclosed that 89,138 people were targets of last year’s collection under FISA Section 702. At the 9-to-1 ratio of incidental collection in Snowden’s sample, the office’s figure would correspond to nearly 900,000 accounts, targeted or not, under surveillance.

And tangentially, for those who are urging the NSA to release Lois Lerner’s emails, all it would take are a few keystrokes:

If I had wanted to pull a copy of a judge’s or a senator’s e-mail, all I had to do was enter that selector into XKEYSCORE,” one of the NSA’s main query systems, [Edward Snowden] said.

What the file would likely reveal is all the dirt the US intelligence apparatus had on said (Supreme Court) judge or senator, or IRS employee. After all, what better way to keep the system of “checks and balances” in check than to have dirt on all the key places of leverage.

The WaPo has released a sterilized example of what a “target package” looks like for any given individual.

All of the above would be stunning… if it wasn’t for a culture in which FaceBook has made the exhibitionist stripping of one’s privacy and disclosure of every last piece of “intimate” personal information a daily chore. It is in this world, sadly, where the most recent confirmation of just how expansive Big Brother is, will merely be granted with a yawn by the vast majority of the population.

Finally, here’s a thought for the cash-strapped US government: when the Fed is no longer able to monetize the US deficit, the NSA can just hire Goldman to IPO the NSA “social network.” It should raise at least a few hundred billion in cash.

Zero Hedge

The Pentagon Wants You to Spend Lots of Time on Facebook

Posted on

The New American
by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.

While Cornell University continues denying that it received any money from the Pentagon to pay for its study of emotional manipulation on Facebook, turns out that it is taking Defense Department dollars to conduct similar studies. 

According to a story published online by The Atlantic, the Pentagon is paying Cornell researchers to conduct “analysis of social network posts for “sentiment,” i.e. how people are feeling, in the hopes of identifying social “tipping points.”

The list of “tipping points” on the website for the Pentagon’s Minerva Initiative includes “the 2011 Egyptian revolution, the 2011 Russian Duma elections, the 2012 Nigerian fuel subsidy crisis and the 2013 Gazi park protests in Turkey.”

Why is the military so interested in identifying these tipping points? The Minerva Initiative website offers this explanation:

The Department of Defense is interested in innovative frameworks and new data that may assist policymakers in developing improved methods for anticipating and identifying potential areas of unrest, instability, and conflict. Insights may inform strategic thinking about resource allocation for defense efforts and humanitarian aid as well as insights for national policy and engagement with both state and non-state actors….

For those unfamiliar with the globalist jargon, “non-state actors” are individuals and groups not associated with official governments. In other words: you and I.

It isn’t difficult to see how the Defense Department would be able to target potential rebels for special social media surveillance. How often have you posted anti-administration memes or messages to your various social media accounts? If you have, then you are now a non-state actor that could be identified as a “potential area of unrest, instability, and conflict.”

Congratulations.

A quick review of the information available on that website reveals a chilling effort by the U.S. military to learn precise methods of using social media to manipulate the emotions of people around the world, knowing just when to deploy troops to quell potential uprisings.

For example, the military wants scientists to study “group identifiers” that will help it learn when users might move from simple belief in something to mobilizing in defense of that thing.

Another current study funded by the military as part of its Minerva Initiative looks at what social media posts can reveal about a person’s stability and resistance to rebellion.

There is even an element of the study that highlights the ways international armed forces might be used to deter civil unrest. Under the section marked “Beyond conventional deterrence,” the Minerva Initiative website explains, “The objective of this research track is to offer new theories, models, and approaches to escalation and deterrence theory that incorporate strategic behavior among international actors across new and traditional geographic domains.”

In other words, if the military determines that a rebellion is growing beyond its ability to contain, it will have information on how to use “international actors” in the armed quashing of the disturbance.

Despite the discovery of these Manchurian Candidate-style Defense Department-funded Facebook experiments, users don’t seem to be fleeing from the social media behemoth. The latest data show that Facebook has over 1.23 billion monthly active users, 945 million mobile users, and 757 million daily users. That’s a huge number of potential subjects.

Just how badly does the military want to keep you in that pool of involuntary participants in psychological studies? The Atlantic reports:

Defense One recently caught up with Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency who said the U.S. military has “completely revamped” the way it collects intelligence around the existence of large, openly available data sources and especially social media like Facebook. “The information that we’re able to extract form social media—it’s giving us insights that frankly we never had before,” he said.

In other words, the head of one of the biggest U.S. military intelligence agencies needs you on Facebook.

“Just over a decade ago, when I was a senior intelligence officer, I spent most of my time in the world of ‘ints’—signals intelligence imagery, human intelligence—and used just a little bit of open-source information to enrich the assessments that we made. Fast forward to 2014 and the explosion of the information environment in just the last few years alone. Open-source now is a place I spend most of my time. The open world of information provides us most of what we need and the ‘ints’ of old, they enrich the assessments that we’re able to make from open-source information.”

How much of the money “legally” plundered from American taxpayers is funneled into university coffers to pay for this creepy research? Again, from The Atlantic, “The military will be spending an increasing amount of the $50 billion intelligence budget on private contractors to perform open-source intelligence gathering and analysis, according to Flynn. That’s evidenced by the rise in companies eager to provide those services.”

Finally, lest you think by getting off Facebook and Twitter you are safe from being unwittingly recruited into one of these experiments, consider this additional information in The Atlantic story:

Many of the groups doing this sort of work on behalf of the government are small outfits you probably have never heard of. And ideally, you never would.

One of them is a company out of Austin, Texas, called SnapTrends, founded in 2012. They provide a “social listening” service that analyzes posts to provide insights about the circumstances of the poster, one of the most important of which is the poster’s location. The company uses cell tower density, social network knowhow, and various other elements to figure out who is posting what and where. Are you someone who refuses to geo-tag your tweets out of concerns for privacy? Do you turn off your phone’s GPS receiving capability to stay under the proverbial radar? It doesn’t matter to SnapTrends.

Besides, given the never-ending supply of funds being plundered from the American people to pay for these studies, any mass defection from Facebook or Twitter to some other platform would just signal to the military where to find the next group of guinea pigs.

The New American

Facebook App Adds Yet Another Powerful Tracking Feature

Posted on Updated on

The New American
by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.

Facebook has updated its mobile platform to include an ambient proximity tool called Nearby Friends. The tech blog Techcrunch describes the new feature:

It lets you constantly share the current neighborhood where you are and the approximate distance between you and your friends or whoever you authorize. It also lets you share your exact, real-time location with specific friends for a few hours or indefinitely. The feature is designed to make it easy to meet up with friends.

Real-time location tracking? No wonder Techcrunch adds that the new service “has major privacy implications.” 

In Facebook’s defense, the location tracking feature is “opt in,” meaning that users will have to activate the service, rather than having to deactivate the service if they didn’t want their location revealed.

This policy decision is likely the result of a penalty imposed in 2011 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that requires the social media mammoth to submit to 20 years of privacy audits conducted by the agency. Another provision of the penalty mandates that any new features offered by Facebook must be “opt in.”

Opt-in or not, Facebook’s mobile app (available on both Android and iOS platforms) is becoming a powerful, portable monitoring tool.

As The New American reported late last month:

A recent “improvement” to the Facebook mobile app is being praised by tech bloggers, but it seems the bigger, more sinister side of the upgrade is being ignored.

In the “coming weeks,” the social media behemoth will roll out a service that, according to an announcement on its blog, will give users “the option to use your phone’s microphone to identify what song is playing or what show or movie is on TV.”

That means if you want to share that you’re listening to your favorite Beyoncé track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing.

Certainly, as the company claims, that is a handy little tool for recording the sounds entering into a smartphone’s microphone with nearly no human interaction required.

There is something disturbing in the potential uses of this option, however. The frightening application of the app is, accidentally it seems, explained in a Huffington Post article promoting the technology: “Facebook Can Now Listen To Everything You Listen To.”

Since implementing the ambient sound recognition feature, Facebook has seen a significant backlash from users wary of having such a powerful surveillance system in their pocket.

This reporter wrote last week:

An Australian news site reports that “the feature has sparked an online backlash, with users mobilising in an effort to get the social media giant to kill off the development.” The petition has over half a million signatures as of press time.

“Facebook just announced a new feature to its app, which will let it listen to our conversations and surroundings through our own phones’ microphone. Talk about a Big Brother move,” the petition reads.

There are hundreds of thousands of Facebook users who fortunately recognize that the ostensible upside of having the social media app scan and record sounds so that you don’t miss out on knowing who sings that catchy song on that commercial you just watched is more than offset by the eery side effect of having all your conversations sucked up and stored somewhere.

“Tell Facebook not to release its creepy and dangerous new app feature that listens to users’ surroundings and conversations,” the petition urges. “Facebook says it’ll be responsible with this feature, but we know we can’t trust it.”

Whether any of the company’s reported 874 million mobile users will similarly resist the location tracking technology that is now part of the ubiquitous app remains to be seen.

One part of the Nearby Friends feature records a user’s Location History, which saves a master list of all the places visited by the user when he’s carrying his smartphone loaded with the app. Facebook records the user’s search history, as well.

Taken together, Facebook is a powerful and pernicious surveillance tool. If that tool was used by a person or group with a nefarious purpose, there is little of an individual’s private information that is not known or knowable.

Facebook has not revealed the number of users that have opted in to the Nearby Friends feature. In reality, though, that is hardly relevant.

A far more important question is how much privacy people are willing to surrender in order to post pictures of grumpy cats and see pictures of their friends’ food. 

While history will one day reveal that answer, what is already known is that the world is becoming a global Panopticon where every call, every text, every e-mail, every online message, and every movement is coming under the all-seeing eye of some private or government entity and being recorded on massive servers.

A question that Facebook and all other such social media sites must eventually answer is who has access to the data it sees and stores.

Last year, for example, government agencies — including federal, state, and local authorities — requested user data on between 18,000 and 19,000 account holders.

The remarkable disclosure of government requests for users’ private information follows successful negotiations between Facebook and other tech giants and the federal government.

Beginning last year, Facebook, Google, and other technology companies who were implicated in the revelations of the NSA’s PRISM program have petitioned the feds to allow them to disclose their level of participation in surveillance requests received from government entities.

Under PRISM, the NSA and the FBI are “tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time,” as reported by the Washington Post.

The joint venture has been functioning since 2007, but came to light only in a PowerPoint presentation that was part of the cache of documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Snowden claimed that the program was so invasive that “They [the NSA and the FBI] quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type.”

According to the information Snowden released, Facebook routinely grants the federal government access to the private information of millions of users.

That is not to say that Facebook is a middle man for the federal surveillance apparatus — the NSA — but all users are right to demand transparency in Facebook’s transfer to anyone of any of their private location, conversation, and search history.

The New American

How the NSA & FBI made Facebook the perfect mass surveillance tool

Posted on Updated on

InfoWars
by Harrison Weber

facebookscreen

The National Security Agency and the FBI teamed up in October 2010 to develop techniques for turning Facebook into a surveillance tool.

Documents released alongside security journalist Glenn Greenwald’s new book, “No Place To Hide,” reveal the NSA and FBI partnership, in which the two agencies developed techniques for exploiting Facebook chats, capturing private photos, collecting IP addresses, and gathering private profile data.

According to the slides below, the agencies’ goal for such collection was to capture “a very rich source of information on targets,” including “personal details, ‘pattern of life,’ connections to associates, [and] media.”

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 8.56.48 AM

NSA documents make painfully clear how the agencies collected information “by exploiting inherent weaknesses in Facebook’s security model” through its use of the popular Akamai content delivery network. The NSA describes its methods as “assumed authentication,” and “security through obscurity.”

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 8.57.21 AM

The slide below shows how the NSA and U.K. spy agency GCHQ also worked together to “obtain profile and album images.”

Screen Shot 2014-05-15 at 8.58.03 AM

Two months ago, following a series of Facebook-related NSA spying leaks, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg stated in a blog post that he’s “confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government.”

According to a report by The Intercept, the above slides do not reveal the NSA’s Facebook surveillance program in full. The report states that the NSA also “disguises itself as a fake Facebook server” to perform “man-in-the-middle” and “man-on-the-side” attacks and spread malware [below].

As we wrote at the time, the “NSA’s Facebook targeting is reportedly a response to the declining success of other malware injection techniques. Previous techniques included the use of “spam emails that trick targets into clicking a malicious link.”

Following the report, released in March, Zuckerberg said, “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”

Zuckerberg claimed he disapproved of the NSA’s actions and said that he’s spoken to president Barack Obama by phone to “express [his] frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future.”

VentureBeat has reached out to both Akamai and Facebook for comment on the matter.

Via VentureBeat

Facebook Facial Recognition Software Has Almost Human Accuracy

Posted on Updated on

The New American
by Joe Wolverton, II, J.D.

Facebook may soon possess the power to match faces to users with almost human-like accuracy.

According to the social-media giant, sophisticated facial recognition software is currently being tested that would employ 3D face modeling to render with a 97.25 percent success rate what it calls “Labeled Faces in the Wild”; in other words — you.

Using a “nine-layer deep neural network,” the software known as DeepFace uses “more than 120 million parameters” to recreate the user’s face and then scans millions of photos to match the face to the person.

A Forbes article on a story published in the MIT TechnologyReview.com, reports, “DeepFace uses a 3D model for rotating faces virtually so that the person in the photo appears to be looking at the camera. The angle of the face is corrected by using a 3D model of an ‘average’ forward-looking face.”

Forbes adds, “The DeepFace algorithms have also been successfully tested for facial verification within YouTube videos” and that the technology could “improve Facebook’s ability to suggest users for tagging in an uploaded photo and for other potential purposes.”

Although this program is still being tested (Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Group will present their findings at a conference in June), the prospects of these “other potential purposes” should frighten the 1.3 billion active monthly users of the site.

Particularly as Facebook isn’t known for more than token resistance to cooperating with the federal government’s quest to put everyone under the National Security Agency’s never-blinking eye.

According to a statement posted on the company’s website last June, government agencies — including federal, state, and local authorities — requested user data on between 18,000 and 19,000 account holders.

Following the negotiations in 2013 that opened the way for Facebook to report its cooperation with requests to hand over user information, Microsoft made a similar surveillance disclosure. A blog post on the Redmond, Washington-based company’s website declared:

For the six months ended December 31, 2012, Microsoft received between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal).

Altogether, that means the accounts of approximately 50,000 Americans — accounts they believed were secure — were laid open to the eyes of government agents.

These revelations may be nothing more than cover fire to distract users from the collusion of these corporations with the NSA as disclosed by NSA whistleblower and former NSA subcontractor, Edward Snowden.

Under the PRISM data-gathering program, the NSA and the FBI are “tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time,” as reported by the Washington Post.

The joint venture has been functioning since 2007, but came to light only in a PowerPoint presentation that was part of the cache of documents leaked by Snowden.

Snowden claimed that the program was so invasive that “They [the NSA and the FBI] quite literally can watch your ideas form as you type.”

According to the information Snowden released, two of the tech companies that disclosed government surveillance requests  — Facebook and Microsoft — were giving the government access to the private information of millions of users.

They were not alone, however. Yahoo, Google, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple all allowed the agents of the federal surveillance state to secretly snoop on their users.

The New American has reported on the story in detail:

PRISM works in conjunction with another top-secret program, called BLARNEY, which, according to the program’s summary, “leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”

PRISM allows the NSA to enter a company’s data stream and extract communications by keying in “selectors” or search items. The agency is mandated by law to conduct surveillance only on foreign operations within the United States, but the selectors are designed to produce at least 51 percent confidence in the “foreignness” of the data it collects, meaning it could be intercepting wholly domestic communications nearly half of the time. Training materials instruct new analysts to submit accidentally collected U.S. content for a quarterly report. But the training instructions also tell the analysts that “it’s nothing to worry about,” the Post said.

Possible details of just how the data flow were recently laid out in a report published online last summer.

Tech news website Mashable examined “press reports, the companies’ statements and what the Director of National Intelligence has disclosed” to figure out how PRISM functions. After its investigation, Mashable reckons that PRISM is “probably more like a data ingestion API [application programming interface — the way software components interact] system that allows for streamlined processing of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act requests. And Google revealed to Wired that its secret system to siphon data to the NSA was nothing more than a secure FTP [File Transfer Protocol].”

Nothing more than a pipe running from Google, whose online and mobile services are nearly ubiquitous, to the federal government’s shadowy surveillance corps.

Perhaps the most disturbing revelation coming from the Snowden leaks about the NSA is the fact that it confirms that the government and their corporate partners consider the protections of the Fourth Amendment to be nothing more than a “parchment barrier” that is easily torn through. Now that the Constitution is regarded by the federal government as advisory at best, there is nothing standing between Americans and the construction of a domestic 21st century Panopticon.

In this country, then, every citizen is now a suspect, and the scope of the surveillance is being expanded to likely place every word, every movement, every text, every conversation, every e-mail, and every social media subject to monitoring by the federal domestic spying apparatus.

Imagine the increase of that capacity if a major player such as Facebook successfully deploys software that can almost perfectly match all the millions of photos saved on its servers to a name. Facebook would become a sort of virtual real-time resource for those who would be interested in compiling caches of personal data on everybody in the world.

Add that to the story The New American reported in December 2013 that revealed that an elite team of hackers employed by the FBI had developed an application that turns on built-in laptop cameras. According to details provided in a Washington Post article, the software can be turned on remotely by the g-men and perhaps most notably, the little green light that typically signals a “live” camera is not illuminated when this application is in use.

In his defense, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg did call President Obama to complain about the government’s ham-fisted treatment of the Internet.

“I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future. Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform,” Zuckerberg writes in a blog post.

“The internet is our shared space. It helps us connect. It spreads opportunity,” he added. “This is why I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the U.S. government. When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government.”

That all sounds very good, but the fact remains that Facebook has handed over access to user data to the federal government and the company is now near completion of a facial recognition tool that will give it nearly perfect perception. 

The New American

Anti-virus software shows Facebook app stole Android users’ phone numbers without their consent

Posted on Updated on

End The Lie
By Madison Ruppert

(Image credit: Robert Scoble/Flickr)

(Image credit: Robert Scoble/Flickr)

The mobile anti-virus and anti-malware software produced by Norton discovered that the Facebook application for Android was secretly identifying users’ phone numbers and sending them to Facebook’s servers.

This news is especially interesting given Facebook’s role in the recently revealed National Security Agency (NSA) programs. Indeed, Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, reportedly met with Facebook executives to discuss the program.

Facebook also enjoys a cozy relationship with the intelligence community. The former chief security officer for Facebook left the internet giant for the NSA and the company quite clearly works with government as the latest leaks have shown.

A student group in Europe has also filed a complaint against Facebook over the handling of private data and last year a report revealed that Facebook was spying on smartphone users’ text messages.

In this latest instance of the violation of user privacy, Facebook’s Android application leaked the user’s phone number even before logging in.

This happened the first time the user launched the Facebook application and the number “will be sent over the Internet to Facebook servers.”

“You do not need to provide your phone number, log in, initiate a specific action, or even need a Facebook account for this to happen,” Norton said in an official post.

A “significant portion” of the hundreds of millions of people who have installed the Facebook application were affected, according to Norton, the makers of Symantec.

It’s worth noting that in the past, Symantec has published information on an intelligence gathering virus based on the U.S./Israeli-made Stuxnet worm and one Symantec researcher revealed that the U.S. targeted an Iranian nuclear research facility before it was built. However, last year Symantec also backed CISPA, a highly controversial piece of legislation.

Facebook told Norton that they “investigated the issue and will provide a fix in their next Facebook for Android release.”

“They stated they did not use or process the phone numbers and have deleted them from their servers,” Norton stated in the post.

Far more worrisome, however, is the fact that Norton says it is not the only application guilty of leaking private data.

“Unfortunately, the Facebook application is not the only application leaking private data or even the worst,” the company said. “We will continue to post information about risky applications to this blog in the upcoming weeks.”

Google Play has a quite abysmal privacy history. Earlier this year it was reported that Google was sending highly personal information to application developers without users consent or knowledge.

Just nine days ago, it was also reported that Facebook leaked the contact information of some six million users.

Via End The Lie

German interior minister: don’t use Google and Facebook if you fear NSA surveillance

Posted on Updated on

End The Lie
By Madison Ruppert

Hans-Peter Friedrich (Image credit: politikdigital/Flickr)

Hans-Peter Friedrich (Image credit: politikdigital/Flickr)

The German interior minister has advised those who fear being subject to National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance to avoid services offered by U.S. internet giants like Google, Facebook, Microsoft and others.

This seems to be sound advice as U.S. companies have reportedly worked closely with the NSA on their surveillance programs including PRISM.

However, one must note that it won’t necessarily help given that the British GCHQ gobbles up data directly from fiber optic cables, which is then shared with the NSA.

Hans-Peter Friedrich, Germany’s interior minister, may be especially concerned with the issue because his country has been targeted more than any other country in Europe for U.S. surveillance. Europeans have become quite upset about being spied on, evidenced by a student group filing complaints in multiple countries over the surveillance program.

Friedrich told reporters in Berlin that “whoever fears their communication is being intercepted in any way should use services that don’t go through American servers,” according to the Associated Press.

Zack Whittaker, writing for CNET, argues that Friedrich’s advice isn’t realistic since the technology world is centered in the United States.

“Europe doesn’t have the technology economy, and it only has pockets of Silicon Valley-like culture spattered around the region,” Whittaker notes. “Can you think of a single European search engine? I can’t.”

He argues that it isn’t the fault of German citizens but is instead the duty of the German government, both legally and politically, to protect their citizens from foreign surveillance.

Friedrich said that German officials are keeping in touch with their U.S. counterparts “on all levels.” A German delegation is also scheduled to fly to Washington D.C. next week to discuss the reports that not only ordinary citizens but even European diplomats were being spied on.

There has been discussion surrounding a possible European cloud which may at least partially protect the data of Europeans.

However, as Whittaker rightly notes, if the NSA can’t directly access data held in Europe, “it can always see its British minion carry out actions on its behalf through pre-existing intelligence agreements.”

After all, the British intelligence services already reportedly have access to a startling number of fiber optic cables. Such access would give them the ability to spy on massive amounts of data, even if people avoid using U.S. services.

One might argue that with such an enormous surveillance grid at the fingertips of the NSA and allied agencies, one would have to promote completely unplugging from the internet.

More realistically, however, European countries could relentlessly go after the United States and United Kingdom and force some kind of end to the surveillance or attempt to get at least some kind of accountability.

Then again, these days that seems more like complete fantasy than anything else.

Via End The Lie