September 18, 2015
Crisis: Facebook, Ad-blocking, GOP Debate, Wall Street Journal, For-Profit Prisons

 "They who can give up essential 
   liberty to obtain a little temporary
   safety, deserve neither liberty
   nor safety."
   -- Benjamin Franklin
   "All governments lie and nothing
   they say should be believed.
   -- I.F. Stone
   "Power tends to corrupt, and   
   absolute power corrupts
   absolutely. Great men are        
   almost always bad men."
   -- Lord Acton

Prev- crisis -Next


The Facebook of the Future Has Privacy Implications

2. Ad-Blocking Software Is No. 1 Paid Mobile App in U.S.
3. GOP Debate Shows a Party Where Crazy Is the New

4 Reasons Why The Wall Street Journal’s Attack on
     Bernie is Bogus
5. 'Justice Is Not For Sale': Sanders Leads Charge Against
     For-Profit Prisons

6. Personal News

This is a Nederlog of Friday, September 18, 2015.

This is a crisis blog. There are 6 items with 5 dotted links: Item 1 is about Facebook; item 2 is about ad-blockers and the desires of the public relations
liars and frauds; item 3 is about the last GOP debate; item 4 is about the Wall Street Journals false attack on Bernie Sanders, here answered by Robert Reich; item 5 is about for-profit prisons, which seem like slavery to me; and item 6 is
a bit of personal news (that is uncertain, but anyway).

1. The Facebook of the Future Has Privacy Implications Today

The first article today is by Farai Chideya on The Intercept:

This starts as follows:

It’s well established that joining a social network means trading privacy for information. Your Facebook friends, for example, get to see that picture of you looking like you might be stoned, and you get to “like” their posts celebrating the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado. Or, perhaps you simply post about your 50th birthday party or celebrating Ramadan. Potential employers get to see all that stuff too, depending on your privacy settings, and there is evidence that some of them discriminate on the basis of age and against Muslims. Facebook, meanwhile, gets to target ads at you.

What’s not as well appreciated, but becoming increasingly clear, is that users of social networks in general, and of social networking kingpin Facebook in particular, are ill-equipped to evaluate the price they’re paying in this trade — to determine just how much privacy they’ll lose over time in exchange for status updates from their friends, and what that loss will eventually mean for themselves and their loved ones.

Well... that's formulating it very mildly, indeed by a Facebook user (as emerges from the rest of the article). I simply think one is stupid or ignorant if one joins Facebook, and I don't care for the amount of users who do: You have no idea about what gets stolen from you by Facebook. Nor about what it is used for. Period. (And - in case you doubted this - I think both are bad.)

Indeed, the following is a lot better:

“Facebook’s story is that we trade privacy for access to its service,” says Cory Doctorow, a best-selling author, co-editor of the pioneering futurist blog Boing Boing, and consultant for the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation. “But it’s clear that none of us really know what we’re trading. People are really bad at pricing out the future value of today’s privacy disclosure. … It’s nothing like any other marketplace. … In a market, buyers and sellers bargain. In Facebook’s ‘market,’ it gets to treat your private data as an all-you-can-eat buffet and help itself to whatever it wants.”
Precisely: "none of us really know what we’re trading", that is, none of the Facebook users know, and not even remotely. And they cannot know, because Facebook's algorithms are Facebook's secret: Your personal data are all theirs,
in their opinion, but what they do with it is unknown.

And there is this, about how many data are gathered:

In 2010, Austrian law student Max Schrems asked for, and eventually received, all the data Facebook had compiled on him. The information arrived in the form of a 1200-page PDF file. It contained both active and deleted personal data, including information on who had “poked” Schrems; a record of who he had friended and de-friended; a list of Facebook users he shared computers with; his RSVPs to various events; email addresses he had never provided Facebook, presumably culled from address books shared with Facebook by his friends; and all his messages and chats, some marked “deleted.”
Something like this will hold for any user of Facebook. Besides, there is also this:
“Social networks foster an environment of mutual participation … on the premise of a social good,” says Dr. Richard Tynan of the U.K. organization Privacy International. “However, behind this apparently benign act exists an ecosystem of algorithms and decisions, known only to Facebook.”
Yes, and I infer from this that all Facebook users are abused: They are tricked into "sharing" while in fact they have no idea about what they share, what it is used for, who can see their data, how much is paid for their data, what use is made of their data, and by whom etc. etc.

2. Ad-Blocking Software Is No. 1 Paid Mobile App in U.S.

The next article is by Alexander Reed Kelly on Truthdig:

In a way, this continues the previous item, although this is limited to advertising.
The rise of adblocking has proved concerning for web publishers, many of whom rely largely or exclusively on display advertising for revenue. In Germany, four major broadcasters have now tried and failed to win in court against Eyeo, which makes one of the largest adblockers: AdBlock Plus. Publishers argue that blocking display ads hurts their business, and is unethical because it allows users to view content without paying the implied price of an ad impression.
I use an adblocker, and am very glad I do: I hate the slick lies of the moral  degenerates who man the lying "public relations" firms so much that I would stop using the internet if I cannot block them. [1]

As to the "publishers": I hope it hurts their business, for I do not like business that is furthered by lies and deception. Second, they are unethical by publishing lies and deception. Third, I just do not want to see their lying shit.

And there is this:

But Peace is Arment’s first app where ad blocking is the primary focus, and he has addressed the ethical concerns of such a move a number of times. “We shouldn’t feel guilty about this,” he said in the app’s launch announcement. “The ‘implied contract’ theory that we’ve agreed to view ads in exchange for free content is void because we can’t review the terms first — as soon as we follow a link, our browsers load, execute, transfer, and track everything embedded by the publisher. Our data, battery life, time, and privacy are taken by a blank check with no recourse.”
Precisely! They are stealing our private data because these are - so far, alas - mostly unencrypted, and because they can and want to.

There is also this, although that is a side-effect:

If adblockers do continue to prove popular with users, they could also be a major weapon in Apple’s arsenal against its key competitor, Google. Unlike Apple, which makes the majority of its revenue from hardware sales, Google’s income still relies largely on web display advertising. As such, it is unlikely to ever encourage the use of adblocking to the same extent as Apple (...)
I dislike both Google and Apple, but on this I side with Apple, although
I also know that they, like Google, are not helping their customers, in the first place, but trying to do what is most profitable for themselves.

3. GOP Debate Shows a Party Where Crazy Is the New Normal

The next article is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:

This starts as follows:

Despite the large number of candidates on the stage at the Ronald Reagan Library, the second debate of Republican presidential candidates was an astounding display of how intellectually bankrupt the Republican Party has become in 2015.
I agree, but I have a relevant question: Will this intellectual bankruptcy harm their chances of being elected?

Personally, I don't think so at all, and especially not in a nation were nearly 2 out of 3 adults seem to believe Noah's Ark really happened: that means you can tell the majority anything and be believed, especially if you also have millions to spend on ads.

Here is a summary of the debate:

For most, it was a contest in who could take the hardest line on cracking down on illegal immigration, building up the military, deploying ground troops against ISIS, how to handle Vladimir Putin’s imperial goals, rejecting the nuclear disarmament treaty with Iran, whether continued federal funding of Planned Parenthood was a sufficient reason to shut down the federal government after September 30, and even whether it was a mistake to appoint John Roberts as Supreme Court chief justice because his court saved Obamacare and sanctioned same-sex marriage.

In brief, it was all baloney served in a sauce of bullshit, lies and deceptions. But it it also is what the majority of the viewers think is "normal".

4.  4 Reasons Why The Wall Street Journal’s Attack on Bernie is Bogus

The next article is by Robert Reich on his site:

This starts as follows:

I’ve had so many calls about an article appearing earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal – charging that Bernie Sanders’s proposals would carry a “price tag” of $18 trillion over a 10-year period – that it’s necessary to respond.

The Journal’s number is entirely bogus, designed to frighten the public.

I agree, which is also the reason to review this here - and I should add that it is  a damned shame that the Wall Street Journal has turned into a propaganda sheet full of lies and deceptions.

Here is Robert Reich's first reason:

1. Bernie’s proposals would cost less than what we’d spend without them. Most of the “cost” the Journal comes up with—$15 trillion—would pay for opening Medicare to everyone. 

This would be cheaper than relying on our current system of for-profit private health insurers that charge you and me huge administrative costs, advertising, marketing, bloated executive salaries, and high pharmaceutical prices.

I agree, though it is a fact that "huge administrative costs, advertising, marketing, bloated executive salaries, and high (..) prices" are the American economical norm.

This is Reich's second point:

2. The savings from Medicare-for-all would more than cover the costs of the rest of Bernie’s agenda—tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave – and still leave us $2 trillion to cut federal deficits for the next ten years.

And besides: "tuition-free education at public colleges, expanded Social Security benefits, improved infrastructure, and a fund to help cover paid family leave" benefit all (except - perhaps - the very rich, but even they would profit from an improved infrastructure).

I skip the third point and arrive at the fourth:

4. Finally, Bernie’s proposed spending on education and infrastructure aren’t really “spending” at all, but investments in the nation’s future productivity. If we don’t make them, we’re all poorer.

Yes - and now most of the money that could be invested intp improving education and infrastructure (both of which are very much needed) mostly go to the Pentagon.

Here is a lesson Robert Reich draws:

That Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal would do this giant dump on Bernie Sanders, based on misinformation and distortion, confirms Bernie’s status as the candidate willing to take on the moneyed interests that the Wall Street Journal represents.
I agree. Incidentally, I do not know similar confirmation for Hillary Clinton.

5. 'Justice Is Not For Sale': Sanders Leads Charge Against For-Profit Prisons

The next article is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

With a call to "end the private prison racket in America," a group of progressive lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill that seeks to subvert the reigning "pro-incarceration agenda" by banning private prisons, reinstating the federal parole system, and eliminating quotas for the number of immigrants held in detention.

"It is morally repugnant and a national tragedy that we have privatized prisons all over America," said Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, one of the legislation's lead sponsors (...)
Yes, I completely agree. There is also this:
"In a society dedicated to liberty and justice, for-profit prisons offend our bedrock principles," Ellison said in a statement. "Private prison corporations spend millions of dollars lobbying government for harsher sentencing laws and immigration policy that serves their bottom line, while taxpayers foot the $80 billion dollar a year bill to incarcerate 2.3 million people. Incarceration should be about rehabilitation, not profit. Now, more than ever, we need to restore confidence in our criminal justice system. Step one is taking the profit out of the punishment."

Indeed, one may well ask how "earning an income" of 79 cents a day (or something similar) differs from slavery. I'd say: only formally, not factually.
Factually, US prisoners are the slaves and the cash cows of those exploiting
them for profit.

And there is this:

"Our corrections system exists to uphold justice—not to house innocent refugees or feed the greed of corporate interests," Grijalva stated. "By treating prisoners and detainees as a means to a profit margin, we’re incentivizing jailors to lobby for ever more inmates, and for inmates to be denied even the basic staples they’re entitled to. The result is a corrections system collapsing under its own weight as the prison industry gets rich and countless innocent men, women and children are ensnared in their trap."

Yes, indeed. (Will the proposed bill succeed? Unfortunately, very probably not.)

6. Personal news

I will consider the crisis series by the end of September, when I will reach the 1000th Nederlog that I wrote in the series since September 1, 2008, when I started. There are three reasons: (i) there are fewer readers (though as much or more downloads and hits) (ii) it takes rather a lot from me, and (iii) I have again problems with my eyes.

None of them is decisive, and the second is probably the most important, and that simply because it limits my writing other things: I can only do so much on a day, and that is always considerably less than what I could do if I were healthy.

On the moment I simply don't know, which is in part due to the fact that I will probably continue checking the 35 or so sites I daily check for news. But it is possible I will ration the crisis series to two or three per week, simply to have the other days free for writing other things.

I will let you know by the end of September or the beginning of October.


[1] I am not joking. I well recall one of the first individual and independent decisions I made, aged 10, after discussing with a school friend of the same age why there were advertisements for Bols gin in the street where I lived, while we
both knew - it was 1960 - drunk men going home at Friday, when salaries were paid: I hate advertisements, and thought (and think!) they should be forbidden, simply because they are 99% lies, deceptions and fraudulence. (And yes, I know
forbidding is impractical, but even so...)

Also, I am not joking I would stop using internet if I have to see advertisements to do so: I've had "the pleasure" once and I totally hated it. And yes, that is also the main reason why I have no TV since 1970: The horrible ads; the sick lies; the degenerate models who mouth anything for money; the ugliness; the stupidity; the falsities...

But OK, I know I am in a very small minority, so I restrict this to a footnote.

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