Don’t Replace Facebook, Disrupt It

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

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?

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”

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

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

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

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

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