Who’s the sucker?

Or, in the case of facebook, if you can’t tell what the product is – it’s you:

Facebook is the prime online, global incubator of racist, quasi-fascist propaganda, conspiracy theories, state-run psyops and agit-prop operations, even in at least one case actual state-backed programs of population transfer and arguable genocide. But to really understand the problem with Facebook we need to understand the structural roots of that problem, how much of it is baked into the core architecture of the site and its very business model. Indeed much of it is inherent in the core strategies of the post-2000, second wave Internet tech companies that now dominate our information space and economy.

Facebook is an ingenious engine for information and ideational manipulation. Good old fashioned advertising does that to a degree. But Facebook is much more powerful, adaptive and efficient. That’s what all the algorithms do. That’s why it makes so much money. This is the error with people who say the fact that people do bad things with Facebook is no different from people doing bad things with phones. Facebook isn’t just a ‘dumb’ communications system. It’s not really a platform in the original sense of the word. (The analogy for that is web hosting.) Facebook is designed to do specific things. It’s an engine to understand people’s minds and then manipulate their thinking. Those tools are refined for revenue making but can be used for many other purposes. That makes it ripe for misuse and bad acting.

As Josh says, fB is in the middle of another round of bad publicity and they deserve every bit of it. Obviously also another meaning of being green, but we CAN learn, get older and [a bit] wiser.

And speaking of TPM and green, find some good media you trust and pay for it. Support it. Help it exist. TPM is a good one that I’ve read for many years now. But don’t believe me, go check it out for yourself. Hit ’em up.

Image via.

Gimme (a tax) Shelter

If you want to smell the flowers in the hothouse of selflessness that is your America today, check out this Forbes article supporting fB c0-founder and erstwhile Singaporean tax patriot Ed Saverin:

Saverin’s essential maneuver will at first glance hopefully get Americans thinking once again about our wrongheaded system of taxation. As it stands now, Americans, through taxes levied on income and capital gains, are explicitly forced to “prove” their income to the IRS.

I was at first embarrassed to post this, but we really need to acknowledge that this, THIS, is where we are and the kinds of people we are releasing into the bloodstream of humanity. Not just Saverin but the writer and the many commenters who provide him attaboys, not to mention the many political and business leaders who believe this. He gets savaged by many others in the comments as well, but the appearance of this kind of stupid and graceless whining should remind us that we don’t get to think that we’re just loosening a bunch a Clooneys into the world. We aren’t. Those are rare; these are unfortunately the norm. THIS is what thirty years of government-is-the-problem propaganda has done to people’s minds and their idea of what they should expect: government as a one-way street to provide you all the opportunities of free-enterprise but a thief-in-the-night when it comes to paying your fair share.

And like most cycles, one of these kinds of people is running for president this year. If he, and Obama, don’t get asked about this early and often in the next few months, be appalled. Be very appalled.