UK government says Facebook’s friend of friends data was accessed from Russia and other countries

Not surprisingly, the leaky data sieve that is Facebook, had its trove of personal data accessed from Russia and other countries (which likely includes the U.S.?):

The now infamous Facebook data set on tens of millions of Americans gathered by a Cambridge University scientist for a firm that went on to worked for Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign was accessed from Russia, a British member of parliament tells CNN.

Source: Cambridge Analytica’s Facebook data was accessed from Russia, MP says

As noted in the story, access appears to have been made from many countries. The headline focuses on Russia because that’s a hot bottom media meme right now (lots of accusations without supporting evidence).

The bigger issue remains that Facebook is a global surveillance network that tracks everyone’s online activities and has been buying offline consumer purchasing data to integrate into their own database. Facebook, historically, gave third parties access to this data – including allowing apps to gather data on friends of friends who never gave permission. Facebook has leaked this data like a sieve leaks water. Everything we’ve ever done on FB should be assumed as having been collected by numerous third parties.

Smart TVs track everything you watch, and link that to your computer and smart phone connected devices too

Once enabled, Samba TV can track nearly everything that appears on the TV on a second-by-second basis, essentially reading pixels to identify network shows and ads, as well as programs on Netflix and HBO and even video games played on the TV. Samba TV has even offered advertisers the ability to base their targeting on whether people watch conservative or liberal media outlets and which party’s presidential debate they watched.

….

Samba TV can also identify other devices in the home that share the TV’s internet connection.

Source: How smart TVs in millions of U.S. homes track more than what’s on tonight :: WRAL.com

The primary business of the Internet is surveillance and propaganda.

Part 7: We should all be like Denmark, remember?

Occupy Democrats is an online, social media-based, for profit publisher of emotion laden political propaganda posters targeting those who view themselves as left wing.

In 2016, Occupy Democrats used social media to distribute this propaganda through shares and likes.

Every claim on this widely distributed and shared poster is essentially false – or two that are highly misleading (see links below for excruciating details.)

Note their last item:

SHARE if America should follow their lead!

Occupy Democrats wants the U.S. to be like its fantasized version of Denmark.

The poster, however, left out other attributes of Denmark. For example,

Starting at the age of 1, “ghetto children” must be separated from their families for at least 25 hours a week, not including nap time, for mandatory instruction in “Danish values,” including the traditions of Christmas and Easter, and Danish language. Noncompliance could result in a stoppage of welfare payments. Other Danish citizens are free to choose whether to enroll children in preschool up to the age of six.

Denmark’s government is introducing a new set of laws to regulate life in 25 low-income and heavily Muslim enclaves, saying that if families there do not willingly merge into the country’s mainstream, they should be compelled.

Source: In Denmark, Harsh New Laws for Immigrant ‘Ghettos’ – The New York Times

That sounds as bad as separating immigrant families at the border, as has been done in the U.S. and which Occupy Democrats is strongly opposed to.

Denmark also has the 2nd highest use of anti-depressant medication in the EU, the highest rate of violence against women in the EU, and until recently, one of the highest suicide rates in the world. This in a country said to be the happiest on earth.

The original poster was highly effective propaganda as it appealed to its target audience and works primarily through the propaganda methods of assertion, and lying, with an encouragement to “Get on the Bandwagon”.

This new information about Denmark illustrates how the poster’s propaganda success used “What you see is all there is” psychology – only showing you the attributes they want you to see. This is the method of “cherry picking” or the flip side of that, censorship.

Finally, “Share if…” is a form of “Get on the bandwagon” – because everyone is doing this.

The above poster was one of the most widely shared propaganda posters I saw in 2016, illustrating the incredible power of propaganda messaging to influence people to adopt viewpoints and actions that are not based in truth or logic.

Analysis of the Occupy Democrats Poster

West Sacramento monitors social media posts in the city

The City of West Sacramento is using software to continuously analyze social media posts on Facebook and Twitter, saying it gives the city government insights into citizen concerns.

The pilot project gives city leaders a look at what’s trending in the city, whether it’s good or bad.

Is the content of social media reflective of what people actually care about?

What if, entirely hypothetical, of course, an organization decided to flood social media with emotional and inflammatory posts about a specific subject which in turn, are widely shared and possibly even fake? Hmmm…

Source: West Sacramento Launching Program Watching Public’s Social Media Posts « CBS Sacramento

Public sector workers have greater free speech rights than do private sector workers

The NY Times writes in “Speaking Freely About Politics Can Cost You Your Job” that private sector workers ‘ “…don’t have the right to speak freely in the workplace.” Or even outside it.’

Unlike public sector workers: “… anyone who works for a government office, whether local, state or federal, is for the most part protected by the First Amendment”.

Public sector workers have a greater free speech right than do private sector workers (which is most of the workers in the country).

The Houston Chronicle notes this disparity:

The United States Constitution prevents only governments, not private citizens, businesses or organizations, from interfering with a person’s freedom of speech. Therefore, private-sector employers can generally demote or fire employees based upon the views they express. Government employees enjoy protection for statements they make as citizens on issues of public concern, unless the speech hurts the government agency’s ability to function

Not only can private sector employers limit your freedom of speech, they have a legal right to compel some workers to engage in political speech. In the private sector, certain employees can be ordered to vote a certain way in to retain their job.

Federal election laws allow corporations to persuade a “restricted class” of individuals to vote for or against a political candidate. The “restricted class” is defined as “executive or administrative personnel” who are employed by a corporation on a salary basis and have policy making, managerial, professional or supervisory responsibilities.

CBS News also notes that employers have a right, in most states, to ask you to vote a certain way but since your ballot is secret they cannot know how you voted.

Stated another way, private sector workers may be legally muzzled in what they say, and can be forced to cast votes against their personal beliefs and views. In my state, like many states, public sector workers are even protected by a State law that prohibits retaliation in any form against a public sector worker for their political speech.

This disparity warps public discourse as the small public sector cohort can be louder than the private sector cohort that is nearly 6x larger in size.

By creating two classes of free speech – those in a protected class and those who are not in a protected class – we distort public discourse.

Public sector workers have a greater freedom to influence the political process than do private sector workers, giving public sector workers greater political power than private sector workers, harming democracy.

A 2011 report says just over 15% of the workforce works for governments, on average (varies greatly by state). This slim segment can speak more freely than than the 85% who lack speech protections (about 8% of private sector workers are unionized and some union contracts have speech protections).

As asked in a previous post, Should some people have a greater right to engage in “free speech” – including hate speech – than others?

Think about the impact this has on public discussion of say, adding a new government run program, expanding and existing government program – or conversely, discussion about reducing an existing government run program. Those who work for the government have more rights to support or not support such policies than do private sector workers.

When speech includes items shared on Facebook and Twitter – items containing speech that can lead to private sector, but not public, workers being fired – the propaganda messaging on social media becomes warped to favor those who work for the public sector.

Among public sector workers, especially at the State level, a majority are both unionized and members of the Democratic Party.

This is particularly true in academic institutions (in sampled institutions, the Democrat to Republican ratio of staff exceeds 10:1) where workers have the greatest free speech rights of all.

Since these workers have greater free speech rights, this suggests more political discourse, such as that shared on social media, is likely to come from and favor positions of public sector Democratic party members.

Social media is therefore an amplifier of the political views of the public sector.

Update

Professor Zeynep Tufekci points out another distinction between private sector and academics in both public and private institutions:

If you go work for the companies, you have nondisclosure agreements. And if you work for Facebook, you’re basically focused on ad targeting. Whereas if you’re in our space, you say, How can we do this better? You’re not trying to make someone money, you’re trying to think about the public good.

Private sector workers are also encumbered by non-disclosure agreements whereas those in academics are not (usually) restricted. This is what tenure is supposed to protect; not vile, hurtful speech.

(At one job I was handed a form to sign. The form said that I could not go to work for anyone in the tech industry for 12 months after working at this firm as a relatively low level, line worker. I refused to sign it noting I was the sole bread winner for my family and could not be unemployed in my career field for a year. Being unemployed for a year would be career suicide as one would be seen as “out of date”. The HR person reached into a folder and handed me a much less restrictive NDA for me to sign (which I did). This highlights the absurdity of these overly restrictive NDAs – they had different ones sitting around and readily available but tried to trick most workers, who likely did not read them, into signing the absurdly restrictive agreements.)

Related: Judge rules that journalists have more rights to access government information than the public.

You may remember the line in Animal Farm: Everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.

Should professors have more free speech rights than others?

If we engaged in widely publicized hateful or hurtful or vile speech, our employers would likely begin job termination procedures within 24 hours regardless of whether we made such comments in a private capacity or not.

As the NY Times notes, “Speaking Freely About Politics Can Cost You Your Job“. Private sector workers ‘ “…don’t have the right to speak freely in the workplace.” Or even outside it.’ Unlike public sector workers: “… anyone who works for a government office, whether local, state or federal, is for the most part protected by the First Amendment”. In other words, public sector workers have a greater free speech right than do private sector workers (which is most of the workers in the country). This disparity warps public discourse as one very large cohort can be vocal while the other must often remain silent.

Professors and teachers argue their speech is protected by “academic freedom”, which they assert protects them from sanctions (or as seen below, even criticism by others) for engaging in hate speech. They assert they have greater speech rights than the rest of us. Randa Jarrar  says “I will never be fired” because she says, she has tenure:

While she asserts that her tenure gives her absolute freedom of speech, university officials publicly disagreed with her claim. Further views on that from the Washington Post.

A different Fresno State professor argues, in so many words, that objecting to his speech is wrong – while simultaneously condemning the speech of those criticizing him for his comments.  He asserts that due to academic freedom he has greater free speech rights than the rest of us and that he should be exempt from consequences (Read it: Fresno State’s Castro didn’t defend my free speech– from the title, he demands others defend his speech, thereby desiring to control the speech of others.)

The First Amendment restricts the government from passing laws controlling (most) speech; it does not require employers to embrace your speech nor does it prohibit employers for sanctioning you for your speech.  Nor does it prohibit others from condemning your speech and calling for sanctions. The First Amendment does not call upon others to defend your speech.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) says ““Randa Jarrar’s speech is constitutionally protected, and Fresno State cannot, consistent with the First Amendment, discipline her for it”. That protection, however, does not extend to the rest of us, who as noted above, would be quickly fired.

Most expect professors and teachers to engage in civil discourse, based on facts and logic, and to not adopt the methods of propagandists using emotional language, swearing, hurtful and hateful speech, and doxxing a suicide crisis phone line. This is the behavior of middle school students – and not what we expect of professionals.

By creating two classes of free speech – those in a protected class and those who are not in a protected class – we distort public discourse.

For example, in my state all public sector workers are protected by law from retaliation in any form for their political views or activism. Private sector workers in “at will” employment have no protection and can be fired for any reason, including their political views.

This means public sector workers have a greater freedom to influence the political process than do private sector workers, giving public sector workers greater political power than private sector workers. This distorts the public discourse, harming democracy.

This distorted concept of free speech becomes a powerful tool in propaganda messaging. Randa Jarrar used the simple method of Name Calling (Bush is a racist). Academics frequently use the Appeal to Authority argumentative form (or as Jarrar put it, people want to listen to here, she’s a tenured professor and your not) but some also use their unique academic freedom to say what they want knowing that others are gagged. Which is a form of censorship that applies to one class but not the other.

As noted by the NY Times, public sector workers have greater rights to free speech than do private sector workers, giving public sector workers are louder and stronger voice in public policy discussions and activism.

Should some people have a greater right to engage in “free speech” – including hate speech – than others?

Note – my comments have nothing to do with left- versus right-wing, causes, statements or proponents. My comments are about the question of whether some are more entitled to greater free speech rights than others and the effect this has on public discourse. Further, the actions of (presumably) a few faculty tarnish the reputation of the school and diminish the value of degrees earned by students at these schools. How is such nasty discourse helpful to anyone and how does it lead to making lives better?

#Facebook ad sales team told politicians that FB can “hand them the election” #DeleteFacebook

Until literally a few days before, this entire ad sales team at Facebook was literally telling every politician with any budget that Facebook can actually hand them the election. It is incredibly disingenuous and strange for an exec to get up and say that there’s no way Facebook could have potentially impacted the election.

Source: Antonio Garcia Martinez, former Facebook Employee Interview

One of many Zuckerberg lies. It blew my mind when when the CEO of an advertising company (FB) said they had no influence on the election. In other words, advertising on the Facebook network does not work?

#Facebook used to brag about its ability to influence elections #DeleteFacebook

Facebook’s website had an entire section devoted to touting the “success stories” of political campaigns that used the social network to influence electoral outcomes. That page, however, is now gone, even as the 2018 congressional primaries get underway.

Source: Facebook Quietly Hid Webpages Bragging of Ability to Influence Elections

#Facebook is a platform for mind control #DeleteFacebook #Zuckerberg

Perhaps at some point in the past few years you’ve told Facebook that you like, say, Kim Kardashian West.

….

What you probably missed is that researchers had figured out how to tie your interest in Ms. Kardashian West to certain personality traits, such as how extroverted you are (very), how conscientious (more than most) and how open-minded (only somewhat). And when your fondness for Ms. Kardashian West is combined with other interests you’ve indicated on Facebook, researchers believe their algorithms can predict the nuances of your political views with better accuracy than your loved ones.

Facebook creates a detailed psychological profile of you, to determine your weaknesses, vulnerabilities and key times to “see you something” via advertising or propaganda messaging. “Something” may be a product, a service or someone’s ideology.

More on this in the next post.