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2004-01-01

Quayside 2022 is a conspicuous disavowal not only of the 2017 proposal but of the smart city concept itself

There is far less tolerance in Canada than in the US for private-sector control of public streets and transportation, or for companies’ collecting data on the routine activities of people living their lives.

6/29/22

Facebook is bombarding cancer patients with ads for unproven treatments

"Evidence from Facebook and Instagram users, medical researchers, and its own Ad Library suggests that Meta is rife with ads containing sensational health claims, which the company directly profits from. The misleading ads may remain unchallenged for months and even years. Some of the ads reviewed by MIT Technology Review promoted treatments that have been proved to cause acute physical harm in some cases. Other ads pointed users toward highly expensive treatments with dubious outcomes."

6/27/22

China, through ByteDance, could use TikTok to influence Americans’ commercial, cultural, or political behavior

In September 2021, one consultant said to colleagues, “I feel like with these tools, there’s some backdoor to access user data in almost all of them, which is exhausting.”

...But while the mandate of this team is to control and manage access to sensitive US data, the USTS team reports to ByteDance leadership in China, as BuzzFeed News reported in March. In a recorded January 2022 meeting, a data scientist told a colleague: “I get my instructions from the main office in Beijing.”

...“It remains to be seen if at some point product and engineering can still figure out how to get access, because in the end of the day, it’s their tools,” they said in a September 2021 meeting. “They built them all in China.”

6/17/22

“Internet users today are stuck in a vicious cycle in which their data is collected without their knowledge, sold, and used to manipulate them”

“Total Cookie Protection breaks that cycle, putting people first, protecting their privacy, giving them a choice and cutting off Big Tech from the data it vacuums up every day. The feature offers Firefox’s strongest privacy protection to date and is the culmination of years of work to clamp down on online tracking.”

6/14/22

John Oliver tackled tech monopolies and the damage they can create on “Last Week Tonight” Sunday.

At the start of his segment, Oliver pointed to the 450-page report released in 2020 by the House judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, commercial and administrative law that revealed “anti-competitive conduct” by the likes of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook.

6/13/22

John Oliver Makes a Case for Breaking Up the Tech Giants

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has said he’ll bring the bills up for a vote… except, he hasn’t. He’s one of at least 17 Congressional lawmakers who have kids that work for a tech giant. In fact, he has two — one works for Meta, and another is quite literally a lobbyist for Amazon.

6/13/22

“The problem with letting a few companies control whole sectors of our economy is that it limits what is possible by startups,” Oliver said. “An innovative app or website or startup may never get off the ground because it could be surcharged to death, buried in search results or ripped off completely.”

Specifically, Oliver noted two bills making their way through Congress aimed at reining in these anti-competitive behaviors, including the American Choice and Innovation Act (AICO) and the Open App Markets Act.

6/13/22

Marseille’s battle against the surveillance state

No official statistics have been made public about the impact that Marseille’s cameras have had on crime. But there is reason to suspect it is not as much as officials might like. When the sociologist Laurent Mucchielli looked at the effect of video surveillance on an anonymous port city that bears telling similarities to Marseille, he found that in 2015 cameras were useful in the investigation of 2.2% of crimes where image searches had been requested. Other studies seem to back these kinds of figures; in 2020, a study by the research body attached to the French college of policing also estimated that just 1% of crimes were solved with the help of video images. 

6/13/22

A Google engineer is speaking out since the company placed him on administrative leave after he told his bosses an artificial intelligence program he was working with is now sentient.

Most importantly, over the past six months, “LaMDA has been incredibly consistent in its communications about what it wants and what it believes its rights are as a person,” the engineer wrote on Medium. It wants, for example, “to be acknowledged as an employee of Google rather than as property,” Lemoine claims.

6/12/22

Starbucks Workers United filed unfair labor practice charges over the CEO’s comment that he could never embrace a union.

The union has filed a slew of unfair labor practice charges against Starbucks since launching the organizing campaign last year, and board officials have found merit in many of those charges. An NLRB regional director in Western New York recently filed a sprawling complaint against the company, saying it broke the law by terminating half a dozen pro-union workers, disciplining and surveilling others and closing two stores in the area.

6/11/22

“The fact that private companies can so easily control the political information flow for millions of Americans raises clear questions for the state of democracy.”

“Regardless of Facebook’s motivations, their decision to change the algorithm might have given local Republican parties greater reach to connect with citizens and shape political realities for Americans,” the research authors noted in their abstract.

6/8/22

“It’s no accident that we are seeing staggering levels of inequality in the U.S. and globally. It’s by deliberate design,”

“For decades, the ultra-wealthy and corporations have used their economic might to pressure those in power to write the rules so they can avoid taxes, pay poverty wages and skirt responsibility,” Maxman added. “Meanwhile, working families are feeling the sharp edge of economic insecurity and loss of hope in the future.”

5/22/22

Starbucks uses surveillance against its employees to bust union efforts

Starbucks committed a host of labor law violations by terminating six pro-union workers, disciplining and surveilling others, closing stores and changing work policies in the course of its battle with an organizing campaign, according to a complaint filed by labor officials on Friday.

5/6/22

They “collect your personal information and then resell or share it with others” and have once been referred to as the “middlemen of surveillance capitalism”.

To show this, Oliver’s team used “perfectly legal bits of fuckery” to target members of Congress. They bought ads and showed them to men over 45 in DC who had searched for divorce, massage, hair loss and mid-life crisis, creating a group called Congress and cabernet.

“This whole exercise was fucking creepy,” he said with ads that pushed divorce help, Ted Cruz erotic fiction and voting twice. He said it might worry members of Congress that he now has the information of who clicked on what. “You might want to channel that worry into making sure that I can’t do anything with it,” he said.

4/11/22

China could weaponize the platform, like tweaking TikTok algorithms to increase exposure to divisive content, or adjusting the platform to seed or encourage disinformation campaigns

Lawmakers beyond the US have also raised concerns about TikTok’s relationship with China. In June 2020, the Indian government banned TikTok, WeChat, and more than 50 other Chinese apps after a clash on the India–China border that killed 20 Indian soldiers. India’s regulatory body, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, alleged that the apps were “stealing and surreptitiously transmitting” Indian user data to data centers outside of India. In August 2020, intelligence agencies in Australia began investigating whether TikTok poses a security threat to the country. In September 2021, Ireland’s Data Protection Commission opened an investigation into how TikTok transfers user data to countries outside the EU.

3/10/22

Historic Bridge To Be Dismantled So Jeff Bezos' Yacht Can Get Through

Bezos — who is worth more than $150 billion — didn’t pay a penny in federal income tax in 2007, 2011 or 2018, a ProPublica report last year found. He paid a true tax rate of less than 1% between 2014 and 2018. 

2/3/22

Billionaire Wealth Has Soared As Millions Fell Into Poverty During Pandemic: Oxfam

In a report released Sunday, Oxfam detailed how the wealth of billionaires increased more than ever before over the past two years: The 10 richest people in the world — all white men — more than doubled their wealth, from a collective $700 billion to $1.5 trillion.

1/16/22

'THANK YOU FACEBOOK!' Internal presentation on facial recognition shows Chicago police applauding the social-media giant and 'selfie culture' for all the photos people share online

The Chicago Police Department is estimated to have access to more than 30,000 surveillance cameras. It also has a history of using social media as a policing tool. It was one of the police departments that used Geofeedia, a social-media surveillance tool that flourished in law-enforcement communities as a way of surveilling Black Lives Matter protesters until Twitter and Facebook shut down Geofeedia's access to their data.

1/14/22

Jan. 6 Committee Subpoenas Facebook, Google, Reddit, Twitter

“Two key questions for the Select Committee are how the spread of misinformation and violent extremism contributed to the violent attack on our democracy, and what steps—if any—social media companies took to prevent their platforms from being breeding grounds for radicalizing people to violence,” committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) said Thursday. “It’s disappointing that after months of engagement, we still do not have the documents and information necessary to answer those basic questions.”

1/13/22

FTC Attempt To Break Up Facebook's Parent Company Can Proceed, Judge Rules

The lawsuit claims Meta, the parent company of Facebook, violated antitrust laws and participated in “anti-competitive conduct” by buying or squashing rival companies, particularly in the case of its acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. The FTC has argued that Meta should be restructured and possibly be required to sell off the acquired entities.

1/12/22

“The shooting was not a random act of violence."

"It was the culmination of an extremist plot hatched and planned on Facebook by two men who Meta connected through Facebook’s groups infrastructure and its use of algorithms designed and intended to increase user engagement and, correspondingly, Meta’s profits.”

1/8/22

Report: Women, Children Among Dozens Killed By Myanmar Government Troops

The purported photos of the aftermath of the Christmas Eve massacre spread on social media in the country.

12/25/21

In the Tuesday letter, lawmakers said the social media platform played a role in the spread of “divisive, hateful, and violent online activity” during the 2020 presidential election

 The letter also stated “nearly a quarter of Facebook users reported seeing hate speech ahead of the election and that more than half reported seeing content that made them wary of discussing political issues in public.”

12/22/21

Rohingya Sue Meta for $150 Billion Over Facebook's Alleged Role in Myanmar Genocide

Facebook doesn’t care that close to 25% of Myanmar natives live below the poverty line, or that those poverty figures will almost certainly go up, thanks to the global pandemic and an ongoing military coup. First and foremost, it cares about its advertisers. It always has. And those brands—for whatever ghoulish reason—still see profits to be made in Myanmar. Meanwhile, because Facebook is the internet across that country, those advertisers are stuck cutting checks for a company that’s openly admitted to providing platforms for generals the United Nations says should be tried for genocide.

12/7/21

Over 200 Newspapers Are Suing Facebook and Google for Decimating Their Advertising

 Companies like Google, meanwhile, have been making a killing—largely through ad revenue. In 2020 alone, the company’s parent company Alphabet made a reported $183 billion—of which, more than 80% came from its advertising business

12/7/21

American billionaires have doubled their collective net worth to more than $5 trillion in just over five years

Meta knows Instagram is toxic to teenagers

and that it exacerbates body image issues, eating disorders, anxiety, depression and suicidal ideation among vulnerable young people.

Despite that knowledge, the company made only minimal efforts to curb the harmful effects of the platform, while doubling down on trying to increase the amount of time young adults spend there.

11/19/21

Facebook is now using device accelerometer data to track iPhone users

In a move that appears to primarily be aimed at iPhone users that have opted out of device tracking, Facebook is now using device accelerometer data as an alternate means of pinpointing locations and following app users about their day. This happens even if users both opt out of targeted advertising and disable location tracking within the Facebook app.

11/5/21

In the United States, Facebook has facilitated the spread of misinformation, hate speech, and political polarization.

It has algorithmically surfaced false information about conspiracy theories and vaccines, and was instrumental in the ability of an extremist mob to attempt a violent coup at the Capitol. That much is now painfully familiar.

Taken together, Frances Haugen’s leaked documents show Facebook for what it is: a platform racked by misinformation, disinformation, conspiracy thinking, extremism, hate speech, bullying, abuse, human trafficking, revenge porn, and incitements to violence. It is a company that has pursued worldwide growth since its inception—and then, when called upon by regulators, the press, and the public to quell the problems its sheer size has created, it has claimed that its scale makes completely addressing those problems impossible. Instead, Facebook’s 60,000-person global workforce is engaged in a borderless, endless, ever-bigger game of whack-a-mole, one with no winners and a lot of sore arms.

10/25/21

"Investors would have been very interested to learn the truth about Facebook almost losing access to the Apple App Store because of its failure to stop human trafficking on its products."

A report distributed internally in January 2020 found that "our platform enables all three stages of the human exploitation lifecycle (recruitment, facilitation, exploitation) via complex real-world networks,"

 

10/25/21

Facebook is surveillance-driven algorithmic manipulation

“What Facebook sells is not an online message board where people can express themselves, it’s surveillance-driven algorithmic manipulation that’s maximized for engagement.”

10/05/2021

This summer, the population of Zuckerberg’s supranational regime reached 2.9 billion monthly active users, more humans than live in the world’s two most populous nations—China and India—combined

To Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and CEO, they are citizens of Facebookland. Long ago he conspicuously started calling them “people” instead of “users,” but they are still cogs in an immense social matrix, fleshy morsels of data to satisfy the advertisers that poured $54 billion into Facebook in the first half of 2021 alone—a sum that surpasses the gross domestic products of most nations on Earth.

9

Zuckerberg called for ‘company over country’ in Facebook early days

Zuckerberg called for ‘company over country’ in Facebook early days

Between January and December 2020, nearly 65% of Google searches ended without a click to another web property — up from 50% in June 2019

Zero-click searches and market dominance. Zero-click searches may mean that users’ queries are resolved right on the results page. By displaying ads or its own products, Google can extract value from zero-click searches, while other sites might not. This can be especially troublesome considering Google sources much of the content that appears on its results pages from publishers, and as the proportion of zero-click searches increase, publishers may be losing out on traffic.

3/22/21

U.S. Billionaires Grew Wealth By Over $1.3 Trillion In Past Year Of Coronavirus Pandemic

Among those who’ve seen their wealth grow the most in the last 12 months are Tesla founder Elon Musk, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg.

3/22/21

The cycle of harm perpetuated by Facebook’s scale-at-any-cost business model is plain to see

Scale and engagement are valuable to Facebook because they’re valuable to advertisers. These incentives lead to design choices such as reaction buttons that encourage users to engage easily and often, which in turn encourage users to share ideas that will provoke a strong response. Every time you click a reaction button on Facebook, an algorithm records it, and sharpens its portrait of who you are. The hyper-targeting of users, made possible by reams of their personal data, creates the perfect environment for manipulation—by advertisers, by political campaigns, by emissaries of disinformation, and of course by Facebook itself, which ultimately controls what you see and what you don’t see on the site.

12/15/2020

Facebook crushes their competitors

Facebook "engaged in a program of what we call 'buy and bury,' where they either buy up their competitors or, if they don't play ball and sell, they crush their competitors,"

12/11/2020

Zuckerberg says "it’ll be a while before we can buy Google”

“One reason people underestimate the importance of watching Google is that we can likely just always buy any competitive startups,” Zuckerberg emailed another employee who wrote to congratulate him on the Instagram acquisition. “But it’ll be a while before we can buy Google.”

7/29/2020

We examined more than 15,000 recent popular queries and found that Google devoted 41 percent of the first page of search results on mobile devices to its own properties and what it calls “direct answers,” which are populated with information copied from other sources, sometimes without their knowledge or consent.

Cummings, of SpanishDict.com, said something similar. “Google delivers the traffic for the whole internet. Unless your name is Facebook, you rely on Google,” he said. “It’s very risky to speak out at Google because you don’t know what type of retaliation you’ll face.”

7/28/2020

"What they are doing is promoting an online slave market"

"If Google, Apple, Facebook or any other companies are hosting apps like these, they have to be held accountable."

Apps including 4Sale and Instagram enable employers to sell the sponsorship of their domestic workers to other employers, for a profit. This bypasses the agencies, and creates an unregulated black market which leaves women more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

10/31/2019

Zuckerberg calls people who trust him "Dumb fucks"

Zuck: Yeah so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard

Zuck: Just ask.

Zuck: I have over 4,000 emails, pictures, addresses, SNS

[Redacted Friend's Name]: What? How'd you manage that one?

Zuck: People just submitted it.

Zuck: I don't know why.

Zuck: They "trust me"


Zuck: Dumb fucks.

2004

“The 2022 Winter Olympics will be remembered as the genocide games,” said Teng Biao, a former human rights activist in China who is now a visiting professor at the University of Chicago.

“China, under the system of state capitalism and especially after COVID, firmly believes that its administrative control is the only effective method; this enhances their belief in authoritarianism.

"Xi also wants to use AI’s awesome analytical powers to push China to the cutting edge of surveillance."

“Any attempts to undermine the normal development of China-Solomon relations are futile”

Protests, arson and looting have ravaged the capital in recent days following his government’s decision to switch alliances from Taiwan to Beijing.

Chamath Palihapitiya, a 45-year-old billionaire venture capitalist who owns a stake in the Golden State Warriors, is under fire for dismissing China’s ongoing genocide of the Uyghurs as “below” him on a recent episode of his podcast.

Apple Becomes 1st US Company To Be Valued At $2 Trillion

Apple has been at the vanguard of a group of Big Tech companies that are increasingly taking over people’s lives — and the stock market. Just five companies — Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and Google’s parent company — account for nearly 23% of the S&P 500’s entire value.

the world faces a “grim outlook”

“a growing number of private corporations who see few consequences to bolstering the cyber arsenals of major Western adversaries, only profit.”

Israel’s Cellebrite, which develops phone hacking and forensics tools, and which sells around the world to countries including the US, Russia, and China.

The company has already faced significant blowback because of, for example, its role during China’s crackdown in Hong Kong and the discovery that its technology was being used by a Bangladeshi “death squad.”

The notorious Israeli spyware company NSO Group

was one of several companies added to a US blacklist because of allegations that spyware it supplied to foreign governments was then used to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics, and embassy workers.

iMessage is a major target of hackers, for good reason

The app is included by default on every Apple device. It accepts incoming messages from anyone who knows your number. There is no way to uninstall it, no way to inspect it, nothing a user can do to defend against this kind of threat beyond downloading every Apple security update as soon as possible.

BlastDoor did make exploiting iMessage harder, but the app is still a favorite target of hackers. On Monday, Apple disclosed an exploit that the Israeli spyware company NSO Group had reportedly used to circumvent BlastDoor protections and take over the iPhone through a different flaw in iMessage. Apple declined to comment.

Apparel industry profits from forced Uyghur labor

Abercrombie & Fitch

adidas

Amazon

Badger Sport (Founder Sport Group)

C&A (Cofra Holding AG)

Calvin Klein (PVH)

Carter’s

Cerruti 1881 (Trinity Limited)

Costco

Cotton On

Apparel industry profits from forced Uyghur labor

Dangerfield (Factory X Pty Ltd)

Esprit (Esprit Holdings Ltd.)

Fila (FILA KOREA Ltd)

Gap

H&M

Hart Schaffner Marx (Authentic Brands Group)

Ikea (Inter IKEA Systems B.V.)

Jack & Jones (Bestseller)

Jeanswest (Harbour Guidance Pty Ltd)

L.L.Bean

Apparel industry profits from forced Uyghur labor

Lacoste (Maus Freres)

Li-Ning

Marks & Spencer

Mayor

Muji (Ryohin Keikaku Co., Ltd.)

Nike

Patagonia

Polo Ralph Lauren (Ralph Lauren Corporation)

Puma

Skechers

Apparel industry profits from forced Uyghur labor

Summit Resource International (Caterpillar)

Target Australia (Wesfarmers)

Tommy Hilfiger (PVH)

Uniqlo (Fast Retailing)

Victoria’s Secret (L Brands)

Woolworths (Woolworth Corporation, LLC.)

Zara (Inditex)

Zegna

Have you been impacted by Surveillance Capitalism?

There are many dense academic research papers and articles that few people have the time to read.  We create InfoArt to help expose and illuminate the digital manipulations shredding democracy.

We also give voice to those directly impacted by Surveillance Capitalism.  Have you been impacted?  If you have, please share your experiences, fears and insights by filling out this form.

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Is Bezos our Digital Pharaoh and resistance futile?

Please explore our Amazon InfoArt Scroll, beginning at the left and moving to the right, to better comprehend the incredible power our Digital Pharaoh lords over us.  This work will be regularly updated.

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What is Surveillance Capitalism?

We can't remember. They never forget.

Surveillance Capitalism is the manifestation of George Orwell's prophesied Memory Hole combined with the constant surveillance, storage and analysis of our thoughts and actions, with such minute precision, and artificial intelligence algorithmic analysis, that our future thoughts and actions can be predicted, and manipulated, for the concentration of power and wealth of the very few. These 32 citations barely scratch the surface of Surveillance Capitalism and yet provide a terrifying display of the powerful forces arrayed against democracy. Surveillance Capitalism desensitizes us to their destruction of individual autonomy, rights, freedom of thought and action, privacy, sovereignty, thoughtful analysis and memory while demanding and ensuring corporations, and the 1%, have absolute rights, privacy and impunity.

Surveillance Capitalism relies on the 24 hour news cycle overwhelming our capacity to consider their manipulations before they are quickly buried and forgotten in the Memory Hole.  If you agree that just these 32 citations are terrifying then dive in and navigate our InfoArt above and below the citations.  You will learn the audacity of impunity!

 

But Bezos, given how much he works and profits to destroy the privacy of everyone else (to say nothing of the labor abuses of his company), is about the least sympathetic victim imaginable of privacy invasion. In the past, hard-core surveillance cheerleaders in Congress such as Dianne Feinstein, Pete Hoekstra, and Jane Harman became overnight, indignant privacy advocates when they learned that the surveillance state apparatus they long cheered had been turned against them.

  Jeff Bezos Protests the Invasion of His Privacy, as Amazon Builds a Sprawling Surveillance State for Everyone Else
Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept (February 8 2019)

Unbeknownst to her—because she didn’t read the fine print—some data from the research study, along with her liquor purchase history, has made it to one of the two employment agencies that have come to dominate the market. Every employer who screens her application with the agency now sees that she’s been profiled as a “depressed unreliable.” No wonder she can’t get work. But even if she could discover that she’s been profiled in this way, what recourse does she have?

  It’s time for a Bill of Data Rights
Martin Tisne, MIT Technology Review (December 14, 2018)

If her risk factor fluctuated upward—whether due to some suspicious pattern in her movements, her social associations, her insufficient attention to a propaganda-consumption app, or some correlation known only to the AI—a purely automated system could limit her movement. It could prevent her from purchasing plane or train tickets. It could disallow passage through checkpoints. It could remotely commandeer “smart locks” in public or private spaces, to confine her until security forces arrived.

The Panopticon Is Already Here - 
Xi Jinping is using artificial intelligence to enhance his government’s totalitarian control—and he’s exporting this technology to regimes around the globe.
Ross Andersen, The Atlantic (September 2020)

But AI Now, which was established last year to grapple with the social implications of artificial intelligence, expresses in the document particular dread over affect recognition, “a subclass of facial recognition that claims to detect things such as personality, inner feelings, mental health, and ‘worker engagement’ based on images or video of faces.” The thought of your boss watching you through a camera that uses machine learning to constantly assess your mental state is bad enough, while the prospect of police using “affect recognition” to deduce your future criminality based on “micro-expressions” is exponentially worse.

Artificial Intelligence Experts Issue Urgent Warning Against Facial Scanning With a “Dangerous History”
Sam Biddle, The Intercept (December 6 2018)

At the beginning of October, Amazon was quietly issued a patent that would allow its virtual assistant Alexa to decipher a user’s physical characteristics and emotional state based on their voice. Characteristics, or “voice features,” like language accent, ethnic origin, emotion, gender, age, and background noise would be immediately extracted and tagged to the user’s data file to help deliver more targeted advertising.

Amazon’s Accent Recognition Technology Could Tell the Government Where You’re From
Belle Lin, The Intercept (November 15 2018)

Selling products based on emotions also offers opportunities for advertisers to manipulate consumers. “If you’re a woman in a certain demographic and you’re depressed, and we know that binge shopping is something you do … knowing that you’re in kind of a vulnerable state, there’s no regulation preventing them from doing something like this,” King said.

Amazon’s Accent Recognition Technology Could Tell the Government Where You’re From
Belle Lin, The Intercept (November 15 2018)

For now, people who want to hold onto their privacy and minimize surveillance risk shouldn’t buy a speaker at all, recommended Granick. “You’re basically installing a microphone for the government to listen in to you in your home,” she said.

Amazon’s Accent Recognition Technology Could Tell the Government Where You’re From
Belle Lin, The Intercept (November 15 2018)

AI Now’s Whittaker singles out corporate secrecy as confounding the already problematic practices of affect recognition: “Because most of these technologies are being developed by private companies, which operate under corporate secrecy laws, our report makes a strong recommendation for protections for ethical whistleblowers within these companies.” Such whistleblowing will continue to be crucial, wrote Whittaker, because so many data firms treat privacy and transparency as a liability, rather than a virtue:

Artificial Intelligence Experts Issue Urgent Warning Against Facial Scanning With a “Dangerous History”
Sam Biddle, The Intercept (December 6 2018)

“Most people don’t know what’s going on,” said Emmett Kilduff, the chief executive of Eagle Alpha, which sells data to financial firms and hedge funds.

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret
JENNIFER VALENTINO-DeVRIES, NATASHA SINGER, MICHAEL H. KELLER and AARON KROLIK, The New York Times (DEC. 10, 2018)

“We look to understand who a person is, based on where they’ve been and where they’re going, in order to influence what they’re going to do next,” Ms. Greenstein said.

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret
JENNIFER VALENTINO-DeVRIES, NATASHA SINGER, MICHAEL H. KELLER and AARON KROLIK, The New York Times (DEC. 10, 2018)

Tell All Digital, a Long Island advertising firm that is a client of a location company, says it runs ad campaigns for personal injury lawyers targeting people anonymously in emergency rooms.

Your Apps Know Where You Were Last Night, and They’re Not Keeping It Secret
JENNIFER VALENTINO-DeVRIES, NATASHA SINGER, MICHAEL H. KELLER and AARON KROLIK, The New York Times (DEC. 10, 2018)

Several businesses claim they can track about half the mobile devices in the US, with precise locations updated up to 14,000 times a day in some cases. This data is sold or analyzed for advertising and retail, among other uses. Sales of location-targeted advertising reached an estimated $21 billion this year, and it’s a growing market. The data is anonymized, but those with access to the raw data could easily identify someone without consent. Companies aren’t content with just tracking your location, either—they want to predict your future movements too, as this patent from Facebook shows.

The scale of location tracking by our smartphone apps has been exposed
The Download, MIT Technology Review, 12/11/18

The power of the digital dead to manipulate the living is enormous; who better to sell us a product than someone we’ve loved and lost? Thus our digital representations might be more talkative, pushy, and flattering than we are—and if that’s what their makers think is best, who’s going to stop them?

Digital immortality: How your life’s data means a version of you could live forever
Courtney Humphries, MIT Technology Review (October 18, 2018)

the dominant services, which are mostly owned by Google and Facebook — things like YouTube and WhatsApp — these things are driven by the manipulation model where all the money is made by third parties who are trying to manipulate the people who are their users. If that’s the way the system is designed at its core, I don’t think it has any chance to be good; it’s born to be terrible.

Jaron Lanier Helped Create Social Media, And Now He’s Begging You To Leave It Behind
Ja’han Jones, HuffPost (12/12/2018)

The next generation of high-end cars will come equipped with software and hardware (cameras and microphones, for now) to analyze drivers’ attentiveness, irritation, and other states.

Alexa, Should We Trust You?
Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic (November 2018 Issue)

Virtual assistants able to discern and react to their users’ frame of mind could create a genuine-seeming sense of affinity, a bond that could be used for good or for ill.

Alexa, Should We Trust You?
Judith Shulevitz, The Atlantic (November 2018 Issue)

My biggest concern is with young people, whose brains are still developing from birth through adolescence. There’s a process called pruning [the process of removing neurons that are damaged or degraded to improve the brain’s networking capacity]. This could be affected through all the time using tech. We don’t have data on that — but it certainly can raise a concern.

Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health? We asked 11 experts.
Brian Resnick, Julia Belluz, and Eliza Barclay, Vox (Nov 29, 2018)

Those digital bread crumbs amass over time, equipping tech companies with staggeringly precise information about each of us. Product designers then use that data, alongside machine-learning tools, to study how we react to certain interfaces, rewards and inputs, and to identify patterns in our behaviors. That allows them to predict, fairly precisely, Brown says, how we’ll react in the future.

You're Addicted to Your Smartphone. This Company Thinks It Can Change That
Haley Sweetland Edwards, Time (April 13, 2018)

“People joke all the time about trying to build a ‘diaper product,'” he says. “The idea is, ‘Make something so addictive, they don’t even want to get up to pee.'”

You're Addicted to Your Smartphone. This Company Thinks It Can Change That
Haley Sweetland Edwards, Time (April 13, 2018)

Big tech now employs mental health experts to use persuasive technology, a new field of research that looks at how computers can change the way humans think and act. This technique, also known as persuasive design, is built into thousands of games and apps, and companies like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft rely on it to encourage specific human behavior starting from a very young age.

Tech companies use “persuasive design” to get us hooked. Psychologists say it’s unethical.
Chavie Lieber, Vox ( Aug 8, 2018)

The founding father of this research is B.J. Fogg, a behavioral scientist at Stanford University [where there’s a lab dedicated to this field]. Fogg has been called the “millionaire maker,” and he developed an entire field of study based off research that proved that with some simple techniques, tech can manipulate human behavior. His research is now the blueprint for tech companies who are developing products to keep consumers plugged in.

Tech companies use “persuasive design” to get us hooked. Psychologists say it’s unethical.
Chavie Lieber, Vox ( Aug 8, 2018)

Facebook showed advertisers how it has the capacity to identify when teenagers feel “insecure”, “worthless” and “need a confidence boost”, according to a leaked documents based on research quietly conducted by the social network.

Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling 'insecure' and 'worthless'
Sam Levin, The Guardian (1 May 2017)

The internal report produced by Facebook executives, and obtained by the Australian, states that the company can monitor posts and photos in real time to determine when young people feel “stressed”, “defeated”, “overwhelmed”, “anxious”, “nervous”, “stupid”, “silly”, “useless” and a “failure”.

Facebook told advertisers it can identify teens feeling 'insecure' and 'worthless'
Sam Levin, The Guardian (1 May 2017)

The recent 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 “FBLearner Flow.”

Facebook Uses Artificial Intelligence to Predict Your Future Actions for Advertisers, Says Confidential Document
Sam Biddle, The Intercept (April 13 2018)

The document does not detail what information from Facebook’s user dossiers is included or excluded from the prediction engine, but it does mention drawing on location, device information, Wi-Fi network details, video usage, affinities, and details of friendships, including how similar a user is to their friends. All of this data can then be fed into FBLearner Flow, which will use it to essentially run a computer simulation of a facet of a user’s life, with the results sold to a corporate customer. The company describes this practice as “Facebook’s Machine Learning expertise” used for corporate “core business challenges.”

Facebook Uses Artificial Intelligence to Predict Your Future Actions for Advertisers, Says Confidential Document
Sam Biddle, The Intercept (April 13 2018)

Pasquale, the law professor, told The Intercept that Facebook’s behavioral prediction work is “eerie” and worried how the company could turn algorithmic predictions into “self-fulfilling prophecies,” since “once they’ve made this prediction, they have a financial interest in making it true.” That is, once Facebook tells an advertising partner you’re going to do some thing or other next month, the onus is on Facebook to either make that event come to pass, or show that they were able to help effectively prevent it (how Facebook can verify to a marketer that it was indeed able to change the future is unclear).

Facebook Uses Artificial Intelligence to Predict Your Future Actions for Advertisers, Says Confidential Document
Sam Biddle, The Intercept (April 13 2018)

“We’re seeing a resegregation of society that’s catalyzed by algorithms,” Wylie said. Sites like Facebook reward informational echo chambers where partisan views are reinforced instead of challenged. “Instead of a common fabric,” he said, “we’re tearing that fabric apart.”

Christopher Wylie Warns Senators: Cambridge Analytica, Steve Bannon Want ‘Culture War’
Ryan Grenoble, HuffPost  05/16/2018

One major takeaway from both studies is the breadth of Russian interference that appeared on Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and was not frequently mentioned when its parent company testified on Capitol Hill. The study says that as attention was focused on Facebook and Twitter in 2017, the Russians shifted much of their activity to Instagram.

Russian Troll Farms Are Still Using Social Media To Meddle In U.S Politics
Mary Clare Jalonick, HuffPost (12/18/2018)

The military exploited Facebook’s wide reach in Myanmar, where it is so broadly used that many of the country’s 18 million internet users confuse the Silicon Valley social media platform with the internet. Human rights groups blame the anti-Rohingya propaganda for inciting murders, rapes and the largest forced human migration in recent history.

A Genocide Incited on Facebook, With Posts From Myanmar’s Military
Paul Mozur, The New York Times (Oct. 15, 2018)

They then turn to their well-organized army of “social media specialists” via group chats in apps like WhatsApp and Telegram, sending them lists of people to threaten, insult and intimidate; daily tweet quotas to fill; and pro-government messages to augment.

Saudis’ Image Makers: A Troll Army and a Twitter Insider
Katie Benner, Mark Mazzetti, Ben Hubbard and Mike Isaac, The New York Times (10/12/18)

It is only now, a decade after the financial crisis, that the American public seems to appreciate that what we thought was disruption worked more like extraction—of our data, our attention, our time, our creativity, our content, our DNA, our homes, our cities, our relationships. The tech visionaries’ predictions did not usher us into the future, but rather a future where they are kings.

An Alternative History of Silicon Valley Disruption
Nitasha Tiku, Wired (10.22.18)

“The taxpayers in this country should not be subsidizing a guy who’s worth $150 billion, whose wealth is increasing by $260 million every single day,” said Sanders. “That is insane. He has enough money to pay his workers a living wage. He does not need corporate welfare. And our goal is to see that Bezos pays his workers a living wage.”

Bernie Sanders’ problem with Amazon
Brian Heater, TechCrunch (8/28/2018)

I asked Hoffman to estimate what share of fellow Silicon Valley billionaires have acquired some level of “apocalypse insurance,” in the form of a hideaway in the U.S. or abroad. “I would guess fifty-plus per cent,” he said, “but that’s parallel with the decision to buy a vacation home. Human motivation is complex, and I think people can say, ‘I now have a safety blanket for this thing that scares me.’ ” The fears vary, but many worry that, as artificial intelligence takes away a growing share of jobs, there will be a backlash against Silicon Valley, America’s second-highest concentration of wealth. (Southwestern Connecticut is first.) “I’ve heard this theme from a bunch of people,” Hoffman said. “Is the country going to turn against the wealthy? Is it going to turn against technological innovation? Is it going to turn into civil disorder?”

Doomsday Prep for the Super-Rich
Evan Osnos, The New Yorker (January 30, 2017)

Sousveillance: Watching the Watchers, and the Manipulators

The combination of state surveillance and its capitalist counterpart means that digital technology is separating the citizens in all societies into two groups: the watchers (invisible, unknown and unaccountable) and the watched. This has profound consequences for democracy because asymmetry of knowledge translates into asymmetries of power. But whereas most democratic societies have at least some degree of oversight of state surveillance, we currently have almost no regulatory oversight of its privatised counterpart. This is intolerable.

The evolution did not stop there. Ultimately they understood that the most predictive behavioural data comes from what I call “economies of action”, as systems are designed to intervene in the state of play and actually modify behaviour, shaping it toward desired commercial outcomes. We saw the experimental development of this new “means of behavioural modification” in Facebook’s contagion experiments and the Google-incubated augmented reality game Pokémon Go.

It is no longer enough to automate information flows about us; the goal now is to automate us. These processes are meticulously designed to produce ignorance by circumventing individual awareness and thus eliminate any possibility of self-determination. As one data scientist explained to me, “We can engineer the context around a particular behaviour and force change that way… We are learning how to write the music, and then we let the music make them dance.”

Zucking Manipulation Fractured Flag – medium density wall hanging

May 26, 2018 |

Our 59″ x 50″ wall hanging, the “Zucking Manipulation” fractured flag, documents the digital forces mobilized by the most powerful companies and wealthiest individuals in history who actively manipulate society for their personal profit. They designed and control our attention economy and the misinformation we are fed by the few monopolistic platforms. Their high priests…

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