Author Topic: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech  (Read 275 times)

Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« on: July 07, 2018, 10:00:06 AM »
Lately, I have been trying to get a better understanding of the implications of free speech in America through research and reflection. The more I learn the more I realize it is a huge topic, so large I can't create a comprehensive summary that wouldn't be too long for casual readers of this forum. Today I read the following article in The Atlantic by Franklin Foer that covers one aspect of free speech and thought I would share it as a jumping off point for discussion. Here is the link to the article and an excerpt:

The Death of the Public Square - Today’s most powerful companies are enemies of free expression.

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... At the core of the public sphere was the idea of individual choice, of autonomous individuals independently arriving at their opinions. Truth was always messier than this. The public sphere was always rife with manipulation—political persuasion, after all, involves a healthy dose of emotionalism and the tapping of submerged biases. But humankind is entering into an era where manipulation has grown simultaneously invisible, terrifyingly precise, and embedded in everyday life.

And now, the tech giants are racing to insert themselves more intimately in people’s lives, this time as  personal assistants. The tech companies want us to tie ourselves closely to their machines—those speakers that they want us to keep in our kitchens and our bedrooms: Amazon’s Echo, Google Home, Apple’s Siri. They want their machines to rouse us in the morning and to have their artificial intelligence guide us through our days, relaying news and entertainment, answering our most embarrassing questions, enabling our shopping. These machines don’t present us with choices. They aren’t designed to present us with a healthy menu of options. They anticipate our wants and needs, even our informational and cultural wants and needs.

What’s so pernicious about these machines is that they weaponize us against ourselves. They take our data—everywhere we have traveled on the web, every query we’ve entered into Google, even the posts we begin to write but never publish—and exploit this knowledge to reduce us to marionettes. All this has become painfully evident in the controversies over Facebook. With this intimate portrait of our brains, Facebook maps our anxieties and pleasure points. It uses the cartography of our psyche to array the things we read and the things we watch, to commandeer our attention for as long as possible, to addict us. When our conversation and debate is so intensely and intricately manipulated, can it truly be said to be free? ...

We knew well about the dangers of a cozy relationship between the state and giant corporations—and how regulations that are ostensibly designed to limit corporate power are captured and twisted by the most powerful companies to stymie competition. Such relationships define our political economy. But tech companies carry a very different sort of cargo—they trade in the commodities of speech. Once we extend the state into this realm, we’re entering danger territory. ...

We don’t need to use our imaginations here. There are examples all over the world—in Russia, in China—where governments have made their peace with social media, by setting the terms that govern it. These regimes permit a cacophony of ideas, except for the ones that truly challenge political power.

Donald Trump should be the object lesson that shuts down this debate before it begins. Not since World War I has the United States had a president who so disrespects the idea of free speech—who threatens to file libel lawsuits and muses openly about loosening libel laws, who attempts to rile hatred of media, who talks fawningly of authoritarian leaders in other countries. 

Yet these times, for all of their historic echoes, are different. The political dynamic is familiar, but the technology is unprecedented. The present global explosion of anxiety and hate is unlike anything most of us have ever witnessed. People don’t know how to confront these evils, which come in nearly every direction, in the form of theological zealots, demagogic populists, avowed racists, and trollish misogynists. In the face of such menace, it’s natural to appeal to a higher power for protection—but in our panic we need to be clear about which threats are genuine and which are merely rhetorical. And panic shouldn’t lead us to seek protection that inadvertently squashes our own liberties. ...

Facebook has made it possible to live in a filter bubble, where we don’t have to contend with the unpleasantness of confronting opinions we dislike—and where there’s a mute button to effortlessly quiet voices we would rather not hear. Mark Zuckerberg’s dream, the dream he continues to profess, even after all of the controversy, is the dream of global community—the idea of a global network that transforms the planet into a place of understanding. As we join Zuckerberg’s community, he fantasizes that the sense of connection will cause our differences to melt away—like a digital version of the old Coca Cola commercial, or, as I argue in my book, World Without Mind, a revival of the sixties counterculture and the vision of life on a commune.

Yet the Miltonic search for truth and knowledge is all about friction, about the human growth that comes with the complications of human existence. Argument is the most important form of friction, and the distilled essence of democracy. Our public sphere has been a place of profound discomfort, because “that which purified us is trial, and trial is by what is contrary.”  Preservation of democratic society means that there is no escaping the trial, no fleeing from the discomfort. ...
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline Baruch

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2018, 10:24:12 AM »
Computers were developed by and for the MIC.  Facebook, Google etc are part of the MIC.  What part of the Eisenhower farewell speech do you people not get?  I am part of the MIC, most of my adult life.  I know.  I didn't spend the last 50 years off in the Redwoods growing "weed" and getting STDs.

So of course, tech companies do what they are told.  As corporations they are anti-socialist.  Gates, Jobs, Page, Ellison, Bezos, Zuckeberg are all part of the Establishment, they are servants of The Man (Uber-Trump).  Amazon is being used to store CIA data.  Bezos controls the MSM in DC.  Gates and Jobs (from Chinese Foxcon heaven) controls your individual hardware/software.  Page, Ellison and Zuckerberg control your data.

There is no free lunch, or free press, of free speech in the Fourth Reich.  But undermenschen are necessary cannon fodder, and like in the Vietnam War period (y'all know we are in a new Vietnam War, right?) it is necessary that the public be dupes.

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« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 10:27:07 AM by Baruch »
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Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2018, 12:24:09 PM »
I was unaware we are in a new Vietnam War. I tend to resist framing current conflicts as historical conflicts because the players and dynamics are never the same and history is a narrative told by the victors, sometimes to cast the losers as victors. If Jeff Bezos is controlling the MSM he's doing a terrible job and should stick to his strengths, namely bringing products to my door in a timely manner, killing off competitors and squeezing the life out of his workforce.

I see what is happening today less as a concerted effort by the government to control the masses and more a result of tech companies designing technology as a means to sell products, specifically advertising. What we are experiencing is a byproduct of the internet being "free." Rather than using a pay-for-service model, tech giants decided to fund their products by selling advertising, by promising eyeballs. Tech companies designed their products to be used as much as possible, to find out what we like on a personalized level and give it to us-- here is a notification by text, email, pop-up, screen icon, embedded ad, product placement, recommendation, special offer. This extended to journalism with problematic results. The mainstream media is highly criticized for being biased but online media is biased by design. Online bias is a feature, not a bug, because outrage is addictive, fear sells, sex sells and facts, truth and context are irrelevant to current algorithms. Mainstream news agencies are invested in being perceived as truthful or "fair and balanced" because if you don't trust CNN or Fox you won't watch it. Online media has no incentive to be truthful and no allegiance to any particular news source. Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube don't care if a story is factual or not, they don't care where it comes from, only that people click. Online algorithms only want to give you more of what you like-- shoes, cat videos, movies, music, anime, porn, anti-Trump rhetoric, pro-Trump rhetoric- and LESS of what you don't like. It's not designed for integrity, to keep you informed or to improve your wellbeing but to keep your eyes on the screen by any means necessary. Don't like conservatives? Google will change your news feed to make sure you hear from people who share your belief, regardless of journalistic integrity. Don't like liberals? YouTube will connect you to all the videos from people who agree with you, regardless of whether they are knowledgeable. Nuance doesn't sell, but fear of Group X attacking your personal freedoms, your family, your way of life-- that's some scary stuff, that's a moneymaker. Google's algorithms don't care if it's true. The culture war is an online gold mine.  As Foer points out, "When our conversation and debate is so intensely and intricately manipulated, can it truly be said to be free?"
« Last Edit: July 07, 2018, 12:26:41 PM by GSOgymrat »
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline Baruch

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2018, 02:00:26 AM »
Forever War since 2001.  Doesn't matter if we started it or someone else did ... it is forever.  It has now been going on longer than Vietnam.  Do wars not count if they start with a letter other than V?

Yes, a permanent war ... but doesn't it count if there is no draft?  I think there should be a draft, on both sexes, completely shut down the colleges this time ;-0  Send them wherever they are needed, don't let them come back ;-))
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Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2018, 08:20:12 AM »
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I think there should be a draft, on both sexes, completely shut down the colleges this time ;-0  Send them wherever they are needed, don't let them come back ;-))

And have the Federal government writing paychecks for even more of the working population? Tax the old so the young have jobs? How very anti-capitalist. :-)
“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

― Pema Chödrön

Offline Baruch

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2018, 08:56:53 AM »
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And have the Federal government writing paychecks for even more of the working population? Tax the old so the young have jobs? How very anti-capitalist. :-)

Hand-in-pocketbook instead of tongue-in-cheek?

Technically, since all dollars are created and destroyed by the Federal government, and are on temporary loan (yes, with interest to the Fed) ... we all work directly or indirectly for the Federal government.  Some of us are retired, that just means out job is to be "retired".  Easy work if you can get it ;-))

That is the problem with war (see Cicero on that ... it requires an ocean of money) ... and yes, we are still paying for old wars.  Did you know that GB is still paying on bonds (damn rollover) from the American Revolution?  Bankers love that shite!

“It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. The one aim of these financiers is world control by the creation of inextinguishable debt.” - Henry Ford
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 08:59:17 AM by Baruch »
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Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2018, 03:04:52 PM »
When looking at the situation in the context of free speech issue, there are much to say.
Not just the tech giants have seized our everyday life, there are different aspects of free speech.
Hollywood movie and music industry seem innocent to who don't know how to assess the propaganda they assert.
For instance, let's think about the clip below. It's full of propaganda.
''Nobody speak, nobody get choked.'' The message it gives cannot be more apparent. It forbids the free speech, even if in international area.
I think the lyrics are produced by ''think tank'' organisations, to shape our own perceptions.
This exaple is from Turkey: %95 of the whole media are monopoly- that is, one group of people own it and their brain-washing strategies are so incredible, so inbelievable.

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Offline Baruch

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2018, 06:13:23 PM »
The 2016 election happened in 1984 ... doesn't matter if it was conservative or liberal oriented, the techniques are the same ...

----
"The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck. The Hate had started. As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen...

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically...

To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings.

All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice...

The essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies, all this is indispensibly necessary."

George Orwell, 1984
----

Propaganda is OK (depending on your leanings).  If the propaganda is pro-Black power and anti-Vietnam War ... well then, the ends justify the means, right?  Except the opposite group is thinking the same thing.  From the Gospel of John 8:44 ...

Your father is the devil. You are his children, and you want to do what your father wants. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has never stood for the truth, because there's no truth in him. Whenever that liar speaks, he speaks according to his own nature, because he's a liar and the father of liars.
----

What is truth?  It is to have personal integrity, to take personal responsibility.  Neither political faction has that.

How do you fight tyranny?  Why ... you get an Apple Macintosh in 1984 ...

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The reason why the Indians herded the buffalo toward a cliff?  So a lot of them might fall to their death.  Apple, Microsoft etc work for the Man!
« Last Edit: July 08, 2018, 06:17:45 PM by Baruch »
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Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2018, 07:11:44 PM »
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The 2016 election happened in 1984 ... doesn't matter if it was conservative or liberal oriented, the techniques are the same ...

----
"The next moment a hideous, grinding speech, as of some monstrous machine running without oil, burst from the big telescreen at the end of the room. It was a noise that set one's teeth on edge and bristled the hair at the back of one's neck. The Hate had started. As usual, the face of Emmanuel Goldstein, the Enemy of the People, had flashed on to the screen...

Before the Hate had proceeded for thirty seconds, uncontrollable exclamations of rage were breaking out from half the people in the room. The self-satisfied sheep-like face on the screen, and the terrifying power of the Eurasian army behind it, were too much to be borne: besides the sight or even the thought of Goldstein produced fear and anger automatically...

To keep them in control was not difficult. A few agents of the Thought Police moved always among them, spreading false rumours and marking down and eliminating the few individuals who were judged capable of becoming dangerous; but no attempt was made to indoctrinate them with the ideology of the Party. It was not desirable that the proles should have strong political feelings.

All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. And even when they became discontented, as they sometimes did, their discontent led nowhere, because being without general ideas, they could only focus it on petty specific grievances. The larger evils invariably escaped their notice...

The essential act of the Party is to use conscious deception while retaining the firmness of purpose that goes with complete honesty. To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just so long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality and all the while to take account of the reality which one denies, all this is indispensibly necessary."

George Orwell, 1984
----

Propaganda is OK (depending on your leanings).  If the propaganda is pro-Black power and anti-Vietnam War ... well then, the ends justify the means, right?  Except the opposite group is thinking the same thing.  From the Gospel of John 8:44 ...

Your father is the devil. You are his children, and you want to do what your father wants. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has never stood for the truth, because there's no truth in him. Whenever that liar speaks, he speaks according to his own nature, because he's a liar and the father of liars.
----

What is truth?  It is to have personal integrity, to take personal responsibility.  Neither political faction has that.

How do you fight tyranny?  Why ... you get an Apple Macintosh in 1984 ...

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The reason why the Indians herded the buffalo toward a cliff?  So a lot of them might fall to their death.  Apple, Microsoft etc work for the Man!

So, to take a stance like ''Non Serviam'' would be very naive standpoint, in today's existing circumstances...
The best way to survive seems like to surrender. Anyone who resist and doesn't agree to them are doomed to annihilation, or at least, to being convinced. A lot of assasinations have beed exposed so far. They are no decent people and without any belief. Yes, they may have some pagan symbolism, but no belief. And they assert their own ideology. Ideology is no better than religion. It's like religion.
But things are going to some kind of fascism supported with technological base. A very strict and hard fascism.

They even have the tools that enable us to communicate(windows software)
Without the world that has been tied with a global network, it wouldn't be possible for a young man who was born in Turkey as a plebian or commoner, to reach an American to make a conversation with him.




Offline Baruch

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #9 on: July 08, 2018, 07:21:16 PM »
The fish should remember, that there is always a hook in the bait.  The trick is to eat the bait, without getting hooked!

Well, Asians have a long martial arts history of using the strength of an enemy, against them (see Aikido).  If you live in a society where everyone knows martial arts, you need to know it too, but also how to avoid fights that you can't win.  Sometimes you have to use disguise, be an onagata on the Kabuki stage ;-)  That is why nunchucks were invented, those are rice farmer tools that can be used against samurai, since you as a peasant are not allowed to carry a sword.  I toured the shoguns house in Kyoto .. the floorboards were designed to squeak, to alert guards to the presence of ninjas.
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Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2018, 12:08:22 AM »
Fish don't remember much.  They're fishy that way.

Offline Cavebear

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #11 on: July 09, 2018, 12:24:17 AM »
I agree completely.  That is one reason I keep a low internet profile.  Not on ICloud, facebook, twitter, no Siri, no Alexis, my TV is not streaming, etc.
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Draconic Aiur

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #12 on: July 09, 2018, 12:26:54 AM »
Sounds like a Fahrenheit 451 intro

Offline Cavebear

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #13 on: July 09, 2018, 12:32:49 AM »
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Sounds like a Fahrenheit 451 intro

Yes, sometimes staying out of sight is wise.  But I'm not exactly doing that here, am I?

Tuck Frump!  And the Republican party he rode in on... 
Atheist born, atheist bred.  And when I die, atheist dead!

Offline Baruch

Re: Powerful tech companies are the enemies of free speech
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2018, 01:19:56 PM »
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Yes, sometimes staying out of sight is wise.  But I'm not exactly doing that here, am I?

Tuck Frump!  And the Republican party he rode in on...

When Meese was attorney general, I was glad there was no Internet profile I had to manage.
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