Facebook

Although we have serious reservations about the Facebook platform, it was decided that because of its huge international access (‘penetration’ in strangely surgical/sexual corporate-speak) it was a medium that shouldn’t be ignored, hence the Psyclone Facebook page.

It is hoped that establishing a presence on Facebook will facilitate the spreading of the word about Psyclone. Because of our reservations and the reasoning behind them, we felt it right to point out the following. This information is being posted here rather than on Facebook due to the unseen monitoring in place there, which subtly censors content that goes against the Facebook controllers. By content I don’t mean those old bogeymen child pornography, race hate, etc, I’m referring to a more political content which would, for instance, get video with an anti-Israeli apartheid message removed and the poster’s account modified so that future content could no longer be posted onto the wall and instead would need be sent separately.

Control of Facebook is necessarily covert. The last thing the people behind the curtain want is to show their face or for the channel to develop a reputation for censorship. Sadly, they haven’t needed to worry too much anyway. Of the millions of users the number using the channel for the spread of constructive socio-political content is still in the thousands. It is as Neil Postman observes in the foreword of Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business, when contrasting the worlds of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four,

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions."

The ‘almost infinite appetite for distractions’ is the thing that keeps the controllers of this world safe, and is the reason why films and books like Zeitgeist and Psyclone, and commentators like Icke, Chomsky, and Watson (to name just the first few that come to mind) are allowed to maintain a presence. It’s why there are fewer assassinations and disappearances (in the ‘First World’) and even fewer book burnings, and why the aforementioned are sloshing around in ‘a sea of irrelevance’.

As a mode of communication the Internet is a threat to those for who don’t want a ‘conscious, informed public capable of critical thinking’, those who, according to the makers of the documentary Wake Up Before it’s Too Late, ‘seek to keep people in a distracted, naïve bubble’, and ‘are doing a damn good job of it’.

But the tide is turning in the ‘sea of irrelevance’ as can be seen by the collective move on Facebook to foil the blatant cross-media manipulation of the 2009 Cashmas...sorry, Christmas No.1 music sales. For those who missed it, a suggestion was put out across Facebook to outwit TV and music media management of public attitude and spending with a strategically timed mass download of the Rage Against The Machine rival to the X-Factor song. The response to the suggestion restored my severely tested faith, and probably sent a shudder through the Facebook framework. Meetings will have been held and counter-strategies discussed on how to stop the sleeping giant from waking up. But it’s too late. As Adam Porter of Year Zero says, ‘We come now and we come as unstoppable as the rain.’

But back to the concealed dangers of Facebook. The following video and linked articles give an overview of the issues.

With Friends like these… Tom Hodgkinson’s Guardian newspaper article on the politics of the people behind Facebook

The Electronic Privacy Information Center provides extensively detailed and referenced information on Facebook at http://epic.org/privacy/facebook/ (See also their excellent resource on Social Networking Privacy)

In their own words Cryptohippie exists to protect individuals and organizations against attacks on privacy by agents of industrial and competitive espionage, organized crime, oppressive governments and even hired hackers. We do this with the best of encryption technologies and a closed group of highly protected networks. The introduction of their 2008 Electronic Police State Rankings has this to say:

Most of us are aware that our governments monitor nearly every form of electronic communication. We are also aware of private companies doing the same. This strikes most of us as slightly troubling, but very few of us say or do much about it. There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. We really don’t see how it is going to hurt us. Mass surveillance is certainly a new, odd, and perhaps an ominous thing, but we just don’t see a complete picture or a smoking gun.
  2. We are constantly surrounded with messages that say, “Only crazy people complain about the government.”

However, the biggest obstacle to our understanding is this:

The usual image of a “police state” includes secret police dragging people out of their homes at night, with scenes out of Nazi Germany or Stalin’s USSR. The problem with these images is that they are horribly outdated. That’s how things worked during your grandfather’s war – that is not how things work now.

An electronic police state is quiet, even unseen. All of its legal actions are supported by abundant evidence. It looks pristine.

An electronic police state is characterized by this:

State use of electronic technologies to record, organize, search and distribute forensic evidence against its citizens.

The two crucial facts about the information gathered under an electronic police state are these:

  1. It is criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial.
  2. It is gathered universally and silently, and only later organized for use in prosecutions.

In an Electronic Police State, every surveillance camera recording, every email you send, every Internet site you surf, every post you make, every check you write, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping… are all criminal evidence, and they are held in searchable databases, for a long, long time. Whoever holds this evidence can make you look very, very bad whenever they care enough to do so. You can be prosecuted whenever they feel like it – the evidence is already in their database.

Perhaps you trust that your ruler will only use his evidence archives to hurt bad people. Will you also trust his successor? Do you also trust all of his subordinates, every government worker and every policeman?

And, if some leader behaves badly, will you really stand up to oppose him or her? Would you still do it if he had all the emails you sent when you were depressed? Or if she has records of every porn site you’ve ever surfed? Or if he knows every phone call you’ve ever made? Or if she knows everyone you’ve ever sent money to? Such a person would have all of this and more – in the form of court-ready evidence – sitting in a database, waiting to be organized at the touch of a button.

This system hasn’t yet reached its full shape, but all of the basics are in place and it is not far from complete in some places. It is too late to prevent this – it is here. Our purpose in producing this report is to let people know that their liberty is in jeopardy and to help them understand how it is being undermined.

I hope this information will help people encourage people to safeguard their privacy and that of their friends and family whilst online, and especially in the shark-infested waters of Facebook. Because sharks there are a plenty, and not just the surveillance kind.

Consider the Social Media Marketing shark for whom a pool like Facebook is a behavioural-targeting, high-end influencing, revenue-creating wet dream. In some ways these sharks are more dangerous than the surveillance sharks because of their, and I choose the word carefully, psychopathic emphasis on not only compiling as much data as possible on every individual, but also on using that data in researching and developing ways to covertly manipulate and influence people’s behaviour, (if you think me sensationalist read the footnote for a clinical definition of a psychopath).

There’s a famous Bill Hicks sketch where he encourages advertisers to kill themselves. Read some of the febrile pantings of these twisted freaks as they drool over brainwave research-based adverts that dive “deep into test subjects subconscious minds to discover their hidden, unspoken beliefs and feelings about financial institution brands…” and “…determine exactly what financial brand messages they responded to best, at the deep subconscious level of their minds, where brand perceptions, brand loyalty, and purchase intent are truly formed…” or “…extremely powerful targeting features that I’m sure advertisers will welcome…” and you’ll see where he was coming from. These are the people who ponce and buy data from Facebook who “it’s clear is looking to provide powerful tools for all advertisers.”

To get a taste of the mentality check out the content of Inside Facebook.

Facebook’s classic doublespeak absolutely-no-privacy privacy policy encourages the feeding frenzy in progress, but people’s ignorance and apathy increase the risk not only to themselves, but also their friends and family, friends in this instance being the non-digital kind, people who you’ve been physical close enough to to share air, touch, smell their perfume/after shave/body odour.

Talking of family, even if you think that you’re shrewd enough to remain out of Facebook’s, or any social networking site for that matter, spooky loop of voyeuristic observation and manipulation, (and there are some very sharp people out there on megabuck salaries who know you’re not), what about the younger people in your life?

Millions of young Internet users would not want a college, university or potential employer to conduct an Internet search on them unless they could first remove content from social-networking sites, according to research by the UK  Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). As many as 4.5 million, or 71 percent, of people aged between 14 and 21 would want the option to pull information off Facebook, MySpace, Bebo and other sites. But almost 60 percent have never considered that what they put online now might be permanent and could be accessed in years ahead.

David Smith, deputy commissioner at the ICO, said: "Many young people are posting content online without thinking about the electronic footprint they leave behind. The cost to a person's future can be very high if something undesirable is found by the increasing number of education institutions and employers using the Internet as a tool to vet potential students or employees."

As well as not thinking ahead before posting information on the web, the survey reveals that youngsters' online behaviour can be a gift to potential fraudsters. Two-thirds of users accept people they don't know as "friends" on social-networking sites, and more than half leave parts of their profile public specifically to attract new people, according to the findings. More than 60 percent are not concerned that their personal profile can be viewed by strangers, while seven percent don't think privacy settings are important and actively want everyone to see their full profile. As for the data that young people make available, 60 percent post their date of birth, a quarter post their job title and almost one in 10 give their home address.

The ICO said that this basic information can be coupled with details that might be used to create passwords — such as a sibling's name, pet's name or mother's maiden name, — to give fraudsters the information they need to obtain products and services in a young person's name or access bank or online accounts.

URL: http://news.zdnet.co.uk/security/0,1000000189,39291035,00.htm

Children and young people aren’t aware or experienced enough to adequately protect themselves in a virtual environment generally, much less social experiment environments developed by devious Machiavelli-types intent on manipulating people’s minds for financial and social control purposes, and on compiling and trading personal data.

Again, check out sites like AllFacebook. Hear them talk about “some of the most effective advertising that marketers have ever seen…” or the “power of the influencer.” and of the “targeting and insights” capabilities of the new approach: “nothing like this has ever been available before…incredibly power insights…actionable information.”

As Jeff Chester reporting on digital media and the public interest at Democratic Media points out, Facebook users have no idea they are now part of a viral marketing scheme, where information that is being sent to them is shaped by the kinds of arrangements made with advertisers. The idea that the information shared with marketers is “non-personally identifiable,” as Facebook’s chief revenue officer claims, is absurd. They know your interests, where you live, your circle of friends, etc.

This White Paper (PDF) details the neurological means by which the neuromarketeers intend to make sure that advertiser's 'message or materials will be absorbed directly into the consumer’s subconscious, where we can measure them for their effectiveness at the level devoid of any ‘outside’ contaminating influences like education, language, cultural ethnicity or other factors.'

Neurofocus, is a Nielsen-backed company that helps create digital and other ads based on brainwave research. Here’s how Nielsen explains what Neurofocus can do for clients, such as brands:

Understand consumers’ subconscious responses to messages with brainwave analysis and increase the effectiveness of marketing and branding content.

Influencing the unfiltered feelings locked in the subconscious and protected by thousands of years of evolutionary defenses has been the bane - and the bread and butter - of advertisers and market researchers since the beginning of the media age. The Nielsen Company and NeuroFocus, Inc. offer neuroscience-based products, services and metrics in retail, consumer packaged goods, television, film and emerging media. Using established electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques to measure degrees of attention, memory retention and emotional engagement, neurological testing provides precise, projectable insights into consumer behavior along with recommendations for increasing message effectiveness.

Some time ago, after observing a friend’s daughter’s near obsession with a game on Bebo, a very simple dog animation that needed to be ‘fed’ and ‘shown love’, I asked the friend what they thought the aim of the game was. They saw it as ‘just a game’, while I wondered why the bandwidth necessary for the animation, especially when multiplied with the number of users, was deemed worth it. Unfortunately I didn’t know then what I’ve learned since about neuromarketing and behavioural targeting, otherwise I would have been able to reinforce my vague suspicions and intuitions with some hard data.

So next time you find yourself coming around after unintentionally having spent hours locked into Facebook, take a long moment to wonder why, and how your consciousness may have been altered in the short and the long-term.

Knowledge is power. Your ignorance is their bliss.
 

(Footnote)

The World Health Organization’s Manual of Mental Disorders, Personality Diagnostic Checklist provides the following criteria for the diagnosis of a psychopath:

  • Callous unconcern for the feelings of others;
  • Incapacity for maintaining enduring relationships;
  • Reckless disregard for the safety of others;
  • Deceitfulness: repeated lying and conning others for profit;
  • Incapacity to experience guilt;
  • Failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behavior.