Simply Amazing Tools

So fB is headed for a showdown with the Mueller investigation, or at least the inauguration of a new transparency czar for the social media advertising publishing juggernaut. For all their community building and connectingness of a bringing a world closer togetherness(tm), it’s still just a website with a business model – and that business model is your attention:

Facebook is so accustomed to treating its ‘internal policies’ as though they were something like laws that they appear to have a sort of blind spot that prevents them from seeing how ridiculous their resistance sounds. To use the cliche, it feels like a real shark jumping moment. As someone recently observed, Facebook’s ‘internal policies’ are crafted to create the appearance of civic concerns for privacy, free speech, and other similar concerns. But they’re actually just a business model. Facebook’s ‘internal policies’ amount to a kind of Stepford Wives version of civic liberalism and speech and privacy rights, the outward form of the things preserved while the innards have been gutted and replaced by something entirely different, an aggressive and totalizing business model which in many ways turns these norms and values on their heads. More to the point, most people have the experience of Facebook’s ‘internal policies’ being meaningless in terms of protecting their speech or privacy or whatever as soon as they bump up against Facebook’s business model.

The whole concept of ‘paid social’ is far more preposterous than anyone seems willing to admit. If you/they have created the perfect mechanism for connecting people with (only) the stories and issues they care most about, you/they have also created a tool for manipulation that is so precisely anonymous and disfiguring that it can, has and will again be used to undermine governments with very little actual effort beyond basic IT competence and price of a starter home in the ‘burbs. The naiveté of the hubris is just staggering, as are the pleas of innocence and well-meaning. Deciding that you will not make any editorial decisions is disingenuous – but also an editorial decision!
We are our own enemies, and our willingness to be manipulated and use such a ‘free’ product is a tale that is being told to us, right before our eyes, to which we only insist on contributing further rationales.
Also, Orwell was a piker.

Canary in a (Saudi) Coal Mine

Not a perfect analogy, I’ll admit. But something huge seems to be brewing in the tiny island nation of Bahrain.

The king of Bahrain declared a three-month state of emergency on Tuesday as more than 10,000 protesters marched on the Saudi Arabian embassy here to denounce a military intervention by Persian Gulf countries the day before.

The entrance of foreign forces, including Saudi troops and those from other Gulf nations, threatened to escalate a local political conflict into a regional showdown;

As vulnerable as any modern dictatorship and perhaps more, Saudi Arabia welcomes no semblance of the regional revolutions that have swept away the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. The royal family may see the writing on the wall, but sending in 1,200 troops to the tiny country with a Shia’a majority, governed by a Sunni minority and historically a part of Iran… they may need to call in a translator. The thing is, with Bahrain as longtime host to our own Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the U.S. may not have any better advice to offer. Which is awful.

The Saudis may be trying to nip this unrest in the bud, but they are just as likely to escalate it with these actions. It’s a test case/ microcosm of the situation in Saudi Arabia itself. We have armed them to the teeth over the years, sure, but made (nor attempted) few inroads with regard to Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes… much less the case of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

And this is no pass-the-popcorn moment; just go fill your car up and see.