from April 14, 2018
This is a
Nederlog of Saturday,
This is a
log but it is a bit different from how it was the last five years:
I have been writing about the crisis since September 1, 2008 (in Dutch, but
since 2010 in English) and about
the enormous dangers of surveillance (by secret services and
by many rich commercial entities) since June 10, 2013, and I will
continue with it.
moment and since more than two years
problems with the company that is
supposed to take care that my site is visible 
and with my health, but I am still writing a Nederlog every day and
I shall continue.
Section 2. Crisis Files
are five crisis files that are all well worth reading:
Selections from April 14, 2018
1. Facebook Uses Artificial Intelligence to Predict Your
Future Actions for
The items 1 - 5
are today's selections from the 35 sites that I look at every morning.
The indented text under each link is quoted from the link that starts
the item. Unindented text is by me:
2. Cambridge Analytica and the Coming Data Bust
3. Nearly 4 People Are Evicted Every Minute: New
Project Tracks U.S.
Eviction Epidemic & Effects
4. Facebook Is No Friend to Democracy
5. Where Are All the U.S. Oligarchs With Links to Washington?
Uses Artificial Intelligence to Predict Your Future Actions for
article is by Sam Biddle on The Intercept. It starts as follows:
Since the Cambridge
Analytica scandal erupted in March, Facebook has been attempting to
make a moral stand for your privacy, distancing itself from the
unscrupulous practices of the U.K. political consultancy. “Protecting
people’s information is at the heart of everything we do,” wrote Paul
Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, just a few weeks before
founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg hit Capitol Hill to make similar
reassurances, telling lawmakers, “Across the board,
we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to make sure
those tools are used for good.” But in reality, a
confidential Facebook document reviewed by The Intercept shows that the
two companies are far more similar than the social network would like
you to believe.
Yes indeed, and I also
have three remarks.
First, on the fraudulent Grewal: When he said that “Protecting people’s information is at the
heart of everything we do” what he really must have meant is this: First,
we steal almost every private
piece of information we can get from you, and we make the fact
that we do so very difficult or almost wholly
impossible to follow; and then Facebook protects the
data it stole from everybody
and it keeps secret what it does with
it, and it also
keeps secret each and every
program it uses to analyze these stolen data.
Second, on Zuckerberg´s trashy bullshit propaganda:
When he said “Across
the board, we have a responsibility to not just build tools, but to
make sure those tools are used for good” what he said was as
meaningful as the agreement of a torturing cardinal in the 1500s
that what he has is “a responsibility to not just [people], but to make sure
those [people] are used for good”.
And third, I also like to insist that even the phrase ¨the social network¨ is propaganda:
Facebook is no such thing, for it is thoroughly anti-social,
anti-democratic, pro-Zuckerberg´s billions.
Here is more:
document, described as “confidential,” outlines a new advertising
service that expands how the social network sells
corporations’ access to its users and their lives: Instead of merely
offering advertisers the ability to target people based on demographics
and consumer preferences, Facebook instead offers the ability to target
them based on how they will behave, what they will buy, and what they will think. These capabilities
are the fruits of a self-improving, artificial intelligence-powered
prediction engine, first unveiled by Facebook in 2016 and dubbed
As I have been insisting
for a long time now (namely
since 2012, when I found these facts) ¨the ability to target [people] based on how
they will behave, what they will buy, and what they will think¨ was sought by the American national security´s
Brzezinski already in 1969-1970.
Brzezinski completely succeeded, which also means that either
he is the greatest genius I ever heard from (he is not) or else that the
main purpose of the DARPA
was not to help people but to spy on them all they could. For more see
here: Crisis: Propaganda and
Control: Brezezinski 1968.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
One slide in
the document touts Facebook’s ability to “predict future
behavior,” allowing companies to target people on the basis
of decisions they haven’t even made yet. This would,
potentially, give third parties the opportunity to alter a
consumer’s anticipated course. Here, Facebook explains how it can
comb through its entire user base of over 2 billion individuals and
produce millions of people who are “at risk” of jumping ship from one
brand to a competitor. These individuals could then be targeted
aggressively with advertising that could pre-empt and change their
decision entirely — something Facebook calls “improved marketing
Yes indeed - but as I
said: All these technicalities and
all these (ab)uses were foreseen by Brzezinksi in 1969-1970,
and were for that reason planned
into the DARPA-manufactured world wide web.
And there is more in this article, that is recommended.
Analytica and the Coming Data Bust
article is by John Hermann on The New York Times. It starts as follows:
Well... yes and no.
The queasy truth
at the heart of Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, which is so far
the company’s defining disgrace of 2018, is that its genesis became
scandalous only in retrospect. The series of events that now implicate
Facebook began in 2014, in plain view, with a listing on Amazon’s
Mechanical Turk service, where users can complete small tasks for
commensurately modest sums of cash. In exchange for installing a
Facebook app and completing a survey — in the process granting the app
access to parts of your Facebook profile — you would get around a
dollar. Maybe two.
This was a great deal, at
least by the standards of the time. Facebook users were then accustomed
to granting apps permission to see their personal data in exchange for
I agree with Hermann that Facebook has - in my terms - been systematically
abusing the private data of its customers ever since its beginning,
and I also agree that was fairly to very clear from its beginning
(and see here: A Nederlog from 2011
in which I articulated many of my fundamental objections to Facebook),
but if so, why was there all these years very little on the NYT?
Here is more:
It was the tail end
of a Facebook era defined by connected apps: games like FarmVille,
Candy Crush and Words With Friends; apps that broadcast your
extra-Facebook activities, like Spotify and Pinterest; and apps that
were almost explicitly about gathering as much useful data as possible
from users, like TripAdvisor’s Cities I’ve Visited app, which let you
share a digital pushpin map with your friends.
Yes indeed, but also:
Most of these apps, when
installed, demanded permission to access “your profile info,” which
could include things like your activity, birthday, relationship status,
interests, religious and political views, likes, education and work
history. They could also collect information about users’ friends,
multiplying their reach.
Very few people who use Facebook satisfy these three
characteristics: (i) they are intelligent with an academic
education; (ii) they really know about programming and
programmed a good deal; and (iii) they really know about -
American - law (and laws from other nations) that are associated
with what one downloads.
In fact, I do not satisfy these three criterions either, for
while I do satisfy the first two, I do not have much knowledge
of the laws that apply, and certainly not on the required legal details
in any law, including Dutch law.
And it is precisely because virtually everybody lacks all three
characteristics that Facebook could acquire so many members, and could
also deceive so many of its members about what it is really doing: Profiting as much as it can from private
information it gathers from its users.
Here is more on Cambridge Analytica:
One of them turned
out to be connected to Cambridge Analytica, which was using the data
for right-wing political campaigns — a fact that was lucidly and widely
reported as early as 2015 but promptly lost in the roiling insanity of
primary season. (As of Facebook’s most recent admission, data was
collected on as many as 87 million users.)
Yes. But from here on it starts
being dishonest, at least from my - intelligent, well-educated,
with good programming abilities and knowledge - point of view:
Not that more
exposure in the news cycle would have mattered much back then. It was
self-evidently absurd to grant a virtual-farming game access to your
religious views, but that’s just how the platform worked at the time,
and so we got used to it, much in the same way we got used to
conducting our private lives on any other corporate platform.
No, definitely not:
In the first place, I did not get used to it because I did
not want to get used to it, and expressed so already in 2011, when
it was very clear to me that Facebook wanted personal data from me I
would never freely give it. (See my On the sham called "Facebook" from 2011.)
And in the second place: I did not ever ¨got used to conducting our private lives on
any other corporate platform¨,
and I also strongly deny that almost anybody else with my
qualifications - real intelligence and real programming abilities and
knowledge - would or could have been taken in by the frauds from
Then there is this bit of utterly sick and misleading propaganda:
Whenever you sign up
for any free service, you’re aware, in the loosest terms, that you’re
giving up something.
This is total bullshit
as long as no distinction is made betweeen free and open software
- that is: software one does not have to pay AND one
can get and see (and compile) all the code for - which is what I
use for the most part, and the sick and degenerate ¨free software¨ that
is offered for free but is written wholly in secret and
privately owned code I avoid as much as I can.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this article:
consequences of these arrangements are harder to quantify and sometimes
even to see. They are: a social-media ecosystem that has annexed the
news and the public sphere; nascent but increasingly assertive systems
of identity and social currency that seek to transcend borders while
answering only to investors; billions of lives’ worth of trustingly
volunteered data in the hands of companies that might want to make
money from it, or that might have no need for it anymore, or that might
go out of business, change ownership or simply forget what they had in
the first place.
This is more or less
correct. But I will not recommend it because it also contains
4 People Are Evicted Every Minute: New Project Tracks U.S. Eviction
Epidemic & Effects
This article is by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now! It starts
with the following introduction:
A new project called
the Eviction Lab examined more than 80 million eviction records going
back to 2000 and found that in 2016 alone there were nearly four
evictions filed every minute. More than 6,300 Americans are evicted
every day. Studies show that eviction can lead to a host of other
problems, including poor health, depression, job loss and shattered
childhoods. Having an eviction on one’s record also makes it far more
difficult to find decent housing in the future. Now the Eviction Lab’s
database is being shared with the public in an interactive website that
allows people to better track and understand evictions in their own
communities. We speak with Matthew Desmond, who runs the project at
Princeton University, where he is a professor of sociology. It grew out
of his Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the
Yes indeed, and here is
the number of persons in the USA that are evicted each year: More than
365*6300 = 2,299,500 or rounded off: 2,3 million persons who
evicted. Each year.
Here is some more on that number:
So, we know, in 2016, which is the most recent data we have, because
it’s comprehensive, there were about 2.3 million people that received
an eviction judgment. That’s a giant number. And let’s just try to put
that in perspective. That’s twice the number of people that get
arrested for drugs every year in America, for example. We heard a lot
about the opioid crisis last year, and for good reason. There were
63,000 overdose deaths last year. There were about 2.3 million people
evicted from their homes. So, for every overdose, tragic overdose,
there’s 36 people that receive an eviction judgment. This is a problem
of colossal importance and scope, and it’s affecting not only big
cities and expensive cities on the coast, but it’s affecting midsize
cities and small towns all across America.
I completely agree. Here
(..) So we’re in the middle of a housing crisis. Incomes have
flatlined. Housing costs have soared. And most people that need housing
assistance don’t get it. So the majority of poor working families today
are spending at least 50 percent of their income on housing costs. One
in four are spending over 70 percent of their income just on rent and
utilities. So we’ve pushed millions of families to the brink of
Again I completely agree.
Here is the last bit that I quote from this fine article:
GOODMAN: So talk about the
numbers, Matthew Desmond. I mean, it is hard to understand. Four every
DESMOND: Four evictions
are filed every minute in America. So the number of evictions filed in
2016 is equivalent to the number of foreclosure starts in 2009 at the
height of the crisis. So it’s as if renters are facing
foreclosure-level crisis evictions every single year. And this is not
just a problem that’s in New York or San Francisco or Boston—cities we
often talk about as being hotbeds of the affordable housing crisis. If
you go to Wilmington, Delaware, one in 13 renter families are evicted
every year. If you go to Tucson, Arizona, or Tulsa, Oklahoma,
Albuquerque, New Mexico, you see very high eviction rates. And so, it
means that the affordable housing crisis is much more deep and spread
out than we originally thought it was.
Yes indeed - and this
is indeed also among my reasons to have written about the Crisis ever
since 2008: It has hardly diminished for the many who are not among
10% well off in the USA. And this is a strongly recommended article.
Is No Friend to Democracy
article is by Amy Goodman and Denis Moynihan on Truthdig. It starts as
social media giant Facebook harvests vast amounts of data from each of
its 2 billion users across the globe. This data trove gives Facebook
unparalleled commercial power and, as is becoming increasingly clear,
the ability to influence significant events, including national
elections. Revelations about Facebook’s role in the exploitation of
user data by a company called Cambridge Analytica to support the
presidential campaign of Donald Trump, as well as the outcome of the
Brexit vote — the referendum leading the United Kingdom to leave the
European Union — have provoked widespread calls for tough, new data
Yes, I completely agree,
although I should and do add that I do not believe that ¨tough, new data privacy laws¨ have a credible probability of
succeeding, at least not without a major economical crisis. (You may
think I am pessimistic,
and indeed I am.)
Here is more (and this is an article rather than an interview):
generated much heat but little light, as was predicted by Zeynep
Tufekci, a professor at the University of North Carolina and one of the
keenest observers of Facebook and our evolving digital landscape.
Appearing on the “Democracy Now!” news hour, Tufekci said: “We don’t
really need Mark Zuckerberg to explain the very basics of Facebook to a
bunch of senators who don’t seem to even understand that. We need to
sit down and say, ‘How do we deal with the new information commons? How
do we deal with the new public sphere as it operates?'” She added:
“People mistakenly think that Facebook sells your data. Facebook
doesn’t sell your data. Facebook sells you.”
Yes, that is mostly quite
correct, although I think Facebook does sell your data and indeed also
is selling you, simply because it has more data about every aspect of
you than you know yourself.
Here is more:
co-founded by former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon and billionaire Trump
supporter and extreme right-wing ideologue Robert Mercer, claimed it
could create “psychographic profiles” of people based on their Facebook
data. A company whistleblower revealed that they advised the Trump
campaign on how to target ads, both to boost Trump and suppress
Democratic voter turnout.
The wholesale, planetwide
exploitation of personal data has dark implications, Zeynep Tufekci
said: “We could enter into a phase of ‘surveillance authoritarianism,’
where we don’t face [George Orwell’s] ‘1984’ model, where there’s open
totalitarianism, where we’re dragged off in the middle of the night.
But we’re silently and quietly, person by person, screen by screen,
nudged and manipulated according to our individual vulnerabilities.”
Yes, although I should
add that Facebook itself prides itself on its “psychographic profiles”. And I reviewed the
interview Democracy Now! had with her on April
12, and indeed that was a quite good interview.
Here is the ending of
Yes indeed, although I add
that I despise Facebook and I despise Twitter and indeed never
used them; I never used any of the - really,
- a-social media; and I despise
Google and use it as little as
“Here is Facebook knowing
this research and deliberately trying to get even younger kids to use
their platform … the last thing that kids need is to normalize this
idea that relationships should take place online, that relationships
should take place through a commercial product.”
Facebook, Google, Twitter
and other social media platforms have become central to our modern,
digitally connected lives. But evidence is mounting that who we
“friend,” what we “like” and share, can be used by malevolent groups to
target entire swaths of the population with a few keystrokes. If
democracy is to survive in this brave new world, mass movements of
people will need to organize together to restrain these corporate
behemoths and protect our digital commons.
And this is a strongly recommended article.
Are All the U.S. Oligarchs With Links to Washington?
article is by Jeff Cohen on Truthdig. It starts as follows:
TV news shows are good at
getting viewers riled up. Day and night, I hear the anchors on CNN and
MSNBC getting us riled up about the schemes of this or that “Russian
oligarch with links to the Kremlin.” I’ve heard that phrase incessantly
in recent weeks.
And plenty of others have
heard the “Russian oligarch” phrase. Merriam-Webster.com reported
that “oligarch” was one of its most searched-for words on April 5
“following reports that Robert Mueller had questioned Russian
businessmen to whom this descriptor applies.”
But here’s a phrase I
haven’t heard from any of the purportedly progressive hosts on MSNBC: “A
U.S. oligarch with links to Washington.”
That avoidance is revealing
when one considers an indisputable fact: U.S. oligarchs have done far
more to undermine U.S. democracy than any Russian.
Yes indeed - and
besides: If there are oligarchs in Russia, which indeed is a fact, as
it also is a fact that Russia is not socialist (or ¨socialist¨)
since 1991, and in fact is a quite capitalist country now, like
USA, it surely also is a fact there are oligarchs in the USA -
indeed that CNN and MSNBC never mentions that fact.
Here is one example:
Take, for example, Brian L.
Roberts—who certainly fits the dictionary definition of “oligarch” as
“one of a small group of powerful people who control a country or an
industry.” As chair and CEO of Comcast, Roberts runs the company his
dad founded and has sole voting rights over one-third of the
corporation’s stock. His annual
compensation last year of $28.6 million was less than what 14 other
U.S. oligarchs—I mean, CEOs—“earned.” His net worth is
estimated to be over $1.65 billion.
Does this oligarch have
“links to Washington”? In one recent year, Comcast devoted nearly $19 million
to lobbying, second only to military-industrial firm Northrop
Grumman. Last year, Comcast spent more
than $15 million. And oligarch Roberts has been a top D.C. power
player for decades, having gotten his way with one president after
another—from President Clinton’s deregulatory, anti-consumer
Telecommunications Act of 1996 to President Trump’s current effort to
end net neutrality on behalf of Comcast and other giant Internet
And that is just one
example of quite a few more. Here is how Bill Clinton became a multi-
milionaire (estimated at $150 millions): by deregulating as much as he could:
pro-conglomeration Telcom Act and Trump’s net neutrality assault have
both undermined U.S. democracy. No Russian had a hand in it. (You may
have heard that the Trump-propagandist Sinclair Broadcast Group will
soon own more than 200 local TV stations; until the Telcom Act, a
company could legally own no
more than 12.)
You’ve got to hand it to
U.S. oligarchs. So many of them stay on top no matter which party runs
Washington. They sure have greater staying power than Russian
oligarchs—who, we’re constantly told, end up dead or in prison if they
fall out of favor with President Putin.
Yes, I quite agree. And here
is the ending:
But to get a clear and
comprehensive view of the workings of the U.S.
political system (aka “U.S. oligarchy”), I have a suggestion:
Disconnect from MSNBC, CNN, Fox and other corporate news sources and
turn instead to high-quality, independent progressive media.
If you do, you’ll see that
the problems plaguing U.S. democracy and the U.S. economy are
definitely the work of oligarchs. But they don’t speak Russian.
I agree, although I do look
daily at The Guardian and The New York Times, indeed next to 33 other
sites, nearly all of which belong to the ¨high-quality, independent progressive media¨. And this is a strongly recommended article.
have now been
end of 2015 that
xs4all.nl is systematically
ruining my site by NOT updating it within a few seconds,
as it did between 1996 and 2015, but by updating it between
two to seven days later, that is, if I am lucky.
claimed that my site was wrongly named in html: A lie.
They have claimed that my operating system was out of date: A lie.
just don't care for my site, my interests, my values or my
ideas. They have behaved now for 2 years
as if they are the
eagerly willing instruments of the US's secret services, which I
from now on suppose they are (for truth is dead in Holland).
two reasons I remain with xs4all is that my site has been
there since 1996, and I have no reasons whatsoever to suppose that any
other Dutch provider is any better (!!).