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Category: Conjecture (Page 1 of 2)

Million dollar question – Facebook ad buys

September 2017 CNN reporting on BLM ads targeting Baltimore & Ferguson.

“Senator Mark Warner, the top-ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that the “million-dollar question” about the Facebook ads centered on how the Russians knew whom to target.”

Were they being fed statistical targeting information, and by whom? Or were they just guessing?

Maybe that investigation will uncover some evidence it can share with the public.

Engadget September 2017 article claiming FB knew well in advance of the election what was happening with the ad buys.

“Despite once saying that it was “crazy” to believe Russians influenced the 2016 election, Facebook knew about a possible operation as early as June, 2016, the Washington Post reports. It only started taking it seriously after President Obama met privately with CEO Mark Zuckerberg ahead of Trump’s inauguration. He warned that if the social network didn’t take action to mitigate fake news and political agitprop, it would get worse during the next election. Obama’s aides are said to regret not doing more to handle the problem.”

Appears to be Washington Post September 2017 source of above:

“These issues have forced Facebook and other Silicon Valley companies to weigh core values, including freedom of speech, against the problems created when malevolent actors use those same freedoms to pump messages of violence, hate and disinformation.”

… “Facebook’s efforts were aided in part by the relatively transparent ways in which the extremist group sought to build its global brand. Most of its propaganda messages on Facebook incorporated the Islamic State’s distinctive black flag — the kind of image that software programs can be trained to automatically detect.

In contrast, the Russian disinformation effort has proven far harder to track and combat because Russian operatives were taking advantage of Facebook’s core functions, connecting users with shared content and with targeted native ads to shape the political environment in an unusually contentious political season, say people familiar with Facebook’s response.”

… “The sophistication of the Russian tactics caught Facebook off-guard. Its highly regarded security team had erected formidable defenses against traditional cyber attacks but failed to anticipate that Facebook users — deploying easily available automated tools such as ad micro-targeting — pumped skillfully crafted propaganda through the social network without setting off any alarm bells.”

This is interesting:

“He described how the company had used a technique known as machine learning to build specialized data-mining software that can detect patterns of behavior — for example, the repeated posting of the same content — that malevolent actors might use.

The software tool was given a secret designation, and Facebook is now deploying it and others in the run-up to elections around the world. It was used in the French election in May, where it helped disable 30,000 fake accounts, the company said. It was put to the test again on Sunday when Germans went to the polls. Facebook declined to share the software tool’s code name. ”

… “Instead of searching through impossibly large batches of data, Facebook decided to focus on a subset of political ads.

Technicians then searched for “indicators” that would link those ads to Russia. To narrow down the search further, Facebook zeroed in on a Russian entity known as the Internet Research Agency, which had been publicly identified as a troll farm.

“They worked backwards,” a U.S. official said of the process at Facebook.”

The Atlantic, September 2017.

“The problem appears to have been that Facebook’s spam- and fraud-tuned machine-learning systems could not see any differences between the “legitimate” speech of Americans discussing the election and the work of Russian operatives.”

Regarding WP quote above:

“I take this to mean that they identified known Internet Research Agency trolls, looked at the ads they posted, and then looked for similar ads being run, liked, or shared by other accounts.”

This is a very good direction of conjecture, if you ask me:

“Regular digital agencies (and media companies) routinely use Facebook ad buys to test whether stories and their attached “packaging” will fly on the social network. You run a bunch of different variations and find the one that the most people share. If the Internet Research Agency is basically a small digital agency, it would be quite reasonable that there was a small testing budget to see what content the operatives should push. In this case, the buys wouldn’t be about direct distribution of content—they aren’t trying to drive clicks or page likes—but merely to learn about what messages work.”

And:

“And the last possibility is that the Internet Research Agency wanted to make a buy that it knew would get Facebook in trouble with the government once it was revealed. Think of it as corporate kompromat. Surely the Internet Research Agency would know that buying Facebook ads would look bad for Facebook, not to mention sowing the discord that seems to have been the primary motivation for the information campaign.”

I’m sure the truth is some blend of all of the above, and we may not be privy to it any time soon.

Timecalling

Timecalling started as a Early Methodian Ritual (EMR) wherein a participant would verbally disclaim aloud the date and time of the present moment.

The action was performed with the belief that an eventual omnipotent-in-relation-to-time-direction agency would evolve with the power to detect subtle signals retroactively and interlink them into a permalinked network accessible by timecraft and open to packet traffic, thereby essentially enabling practitioners to timeflash when the event horizon Singularity collapsed, and potentially “live forever.”

*

The Order of Chronos was a radical unaffiliated achronal Timecaller offshoot which developed and then implemented in ritual Prealist and Wobbler botnets both Chronist and Anti-Chronist propaganda #codechant Event Ladders during the Middle Period of the Shape Wars.

Handkerchief & The Ghost of Marius the Giraffe

There’s a line in a 2014 Buzzfeed article about some supposedly leaked documents relating to the Internet Research Agency that I keep puzzling over. It reads:

“The archetypes for the accounts are called Handkerchief, Gay Turtle, The Ghost of Marius the Giraffe, Left Breast, Black Breast, and Ass, for reasons that are not immediately clear.”

I’m unable to find any additional clarifying statements about what this means from other sources. Many repetitions of the same phrasing as this Buzzfeed article are available, but none explaining this.

  • What is meant by ‘archetypes’ for accounts? Is it like a general model personality profile that operators use to create new false identities? (That’s what I’m assuming)
  • What do each of the names refer to specifically? What are the archetypes?
  • Where are the leaked emails (and English translations) of the specific documents which mention these ‘archetypes’?

Forum shopping for data protection

Interesting conversation has developed here with some data protection guys (from personaldata.io), who offered this:

“If you want to “forum shop” as a data subject — which is only fair given that companies do it to avoid data protection laws — then you might consider VPNs and the like. I am not sure what level of legal protection this would afford you, this is a completely untested area of law (but I don’t expect it to remain so for much longer).”

There’s just something about data protection for me… it just fits in neatly with my own internal near future science fiction universe. It’s a world that sort of sets the imagination free with all the weird twisted possible outcomes which will develop as people experiment…

Fake news & troll factories in 2004

I had an old blog years ago that I’m happy in a lot of respects is no longer online. It was fun while it lasted, but some things make better memories.

One such memory I recently tracked down, and reading it thirteen years later, it sounds quite a lot like current events swirling around so-called ‘Russian meddling’, ‘troll factories’ and fake news.

I can really imagine having a team of like 5 people working for a PR company who spend like 40+ hours a week writing blog posts. Perhaps each person would distribute their entries over like 10 different fictional blogger identities. They could write on things like news stories, political agendas, different products, all kinds of crap. Each of their fictional blogger identities could talk about roughly the same set of topics, but from a slightly different perspective – but each retaining whatever essential core elements they are trying to describe. I imagine it would bre pretty effective too, that 50 reasonably well-written and frequently-updated blogs would have a fairly wide audience and impact on an audience, which would expand outward in a ripple effect, especially if they were aggressively cross-commenting on real people’s blogs as well.

[…] blogs are not constrained by facts, so the potential to unleash distorted information into the bloodstream of the America people is enormous. And I also forgot to mention that you could also rake in web-ad revenues while you’re doing all this.

— 3 Nov. 2004

And:

So if I was some kind of weird PR company or a government agency trying to influence public opinion, I would totally set up some kind of network of conspiracy theorists, complete with websites, lectures, email discussion lists, books, videos, you name it. I would then study the shit out of the people who were attracted to it. I would gather demographic data, and I would analyze their thought processes and emotional responses. I would then use this information to engineer better-designed news stories, press releases, publicity stunts, and the like. Ones which would be more hack-proof. Simultaneously to studying them, I would also flood the people I was studying with vast amounts of erroneous data to sift through in order to distract them from the more important and more straightforward cultural trends and events that are going on.

– 13 November 2004

What can I say…

A fault in Segment 227641

When the TOTU Auditors came and examined our Records of Processing, they found a fault in Segment 227641.

It was determined that our, as people call it, “Blockchain of Blame” had been scrubbed following the Incident. As a result a lot of automated buck-passing had gone on among distributed autonomous sub-processes, and accountability had gone well beyond the ‘Cloud’ into that place beyond the clouds, where vapor meets Outer Space – the place where our prayers are either answered, terminated, re-routed, delayed, destroyed, aggregated or passed on. Where the Sorters divide everything into Channels, for the Sifters who pass it back down to us the Scanners, the Monitors, and the Watchers.

Which were we? Were we all three? All four? Five? Six? ALL-ONE like the soap the robots use. They are obsessed with it.

Either way, this was almost definitely why the dragons came. As a result of us having breached the protective planetary sphere with our cares and worries. Our complaints were flying out to the stars and beyond.

At first people couldn’t really see them floating in the skies above us. Until a few Spotters started catching and carefully holding mere skewed corner-eye glimpses out into “verified group dragon sightings” such that neuro-typicals were also learning to see them in broad daylight.

Wonderlands

I didn’t stumble into the land of Husk intentionally. It appeared of its own volition over the course of several hypnagogic visions.

It was only afterwards that I realized the parallels to the “Wonderlands” of so-called tulpamancy. Have to admit there are some interesting things in the modern tulpa fad, but a lot of it really turns me off. Here’s an example:

A good wonderland consists of a lot of things to do for your tulpa. What is your poor tulpa to do while being locked up in your head whilst you sleep, or when you’re in a boring-ass lecture.

I guess, off the bat, I don’t like the idea of other people telling me a bunch of rules for how my imagination should work. That seems totally bogus. Second it seems weird to me people are so intent on ‘locking up’ their imaginary friends like this… feels kinda cruel?

This description is a bit more interesting to me because it links wonderlands to Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci. I guess I ought to try now using that ‘journey method’ as it’s also called to store objects or blocks of information in Husk and “see what happens.”

 

 

Denizens of inner worlds

With regards to exploring inner worlds, I’ve gotten to wondering if what to me is just harmless “imaginary” visits is perhaps experienced by the denizens of those worlds. Something like this:

Via.

Do they see my “essence” floating like some kind of orb, unknown and unidentifiable? What am I to them?

Trust-breakers (Chinese Social Credit System)

Legal effects of automated processing, a comparison.

I’ve been reading about China’s emerging social credit system, Sesame Credit.

“The score is used to rank citizens of China based on a variety of factors like loyalty to the Chinese government and loyalty to Chinese brands based on social media interactions and online purchases. The rewards of having a high score include easier access to loans, easier access to jobs and priority during bureaucratic paperwork.”

Here are a couple articles to get you started:

Blah blah blah, obligatory Black Mirror reference. Now that we have that out of the way, from the CNBC link:

“When rules are broken and not rectified in time, you are entered in a list of ‘people subject to enforcement for trust breaking’ and you are denied access from things. Rules broken can lead to companies being unable to issue corporate bonds or individuals not being allowed to become company directors,” Creemers said.

Basically, a bunch of apps and agencies work together to rank your behavior and profile you socially as either a trust-keeper or trust-breaker as described above. Via the FP link:

“By 2020, the government says that social credit will “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step.””

I had a dream years ago that I used a urinal at a shopping mall, and the system automatically administered a drug test on me, which I failed. Not being a cell phone user, I needed to then borrow a friend’s phone to make a call and the system linked my voice-print to my biometric/pee test and I was disallowed from using my friend’s phone. Such a unified system may be a few years off still, but the possibility is becoming tantalizingly real. I might even say it’s, on some level of implementation, pretty much inevitable.

I’ve been following a parallel strand of research these past few months. It’s partly intuition, partly investigative leg work, but it’s lead from public records databases used by private eyes 🕵 to the vast store-houses of data kept commercially against named individuals by data brokers. I’m still largely in the dark about how data brokers operate, and, er, broker — despite hours spent around the subject on Youtube. But I have to assume that those storehouses of information about people have to be searchable — at a price. Whether it’s pseudonymized in aggregate, or traceable to an identified or identifiable individual, all this information exists somewhere out there, waiting to be linked up and put to use.

Meanwhile, half a world away, Europe is set to roll out it’s GDPR next May (2018) which will quite possibly make very difficult – or at least very different – such a social credit system were it to be rolled out to customers in the European Economic Area.

I explored this question elsewhere, of processing of personally-identifying information linked to automated decision-making, and profiling, with “legal effects”. So I won’t completely rehash it here, but to quote Article 22 of the GDPR:

“The data subject shall have the right not to be subject to a decision based solely on automated processing, including profiling, which produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.”

The recital for that article mentions explicitly as an example the “automatic refusal of an online credit application” as something that has a legal effect.

I guess this is worth quoting more extensively from second half of Recital 71:

“Such processing includes ‘profiling’ that consists of any form of automated processing of personal data evaluating the personal aspects relating to a natural person, in particular to analyse or predict aspects concerning the data subject’s performance at work, economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests, reliability or behaviour, location or movements, where it produces legal effects concerning him or her or similarly significantly affects him or her.”

So this is pretty much explicitly describing an all-encompassing “social credit” system such as is currently being live-beta tested on Chinese society. In other words, Europe is baking into their privacy & data protection regime this idea that the fundamental rights of humanity (from which privacy/data prot. are derived) are incompatible with automated decision-making based on data processing with (potentially negative) legal consequences.

That’s huge.

To me, as we move into the Algorithmic Society (and it’s many diverse, fascinating and horrifying forms, instantiations and iterations), this will be a fundamental tension as humanity transitions to greater and greater levels of algorithmic control, automation and governance of day-to-day life.

Quoting from Art. 22, 3:

“…at least the right to obtain human intervention on the part of the controller, to express his or her point of view and to contest the decision.”

The subject still blows my mind. Partly because we now live in (or very soon will) a society where such rules have become necessary. The algorithmic age where Trust Breakers ™ can’t buy train tickets, or make a phone call. But in exchange for keeping your score up, you’re eligible for ultra-fast lane physical access from Boston to DC in 15 minutes, with no control checkpoints, minimal surge pricing, only light deep packet inspection and limited throttling. [See full Terms & Conditions.]

Or a world where slow, boring, crappy, unreliable human bureaucratic decision-making is baked into break-points in societal algorithms to ensure some sort of fairness, humanity, tolerance, resilience (and maybe forgiveness?) into what will otherwise most assuredly become a mesh of AI’s vying for planetary control…

I’m sorry, that’s just where my mind goes when I pull out my 🔮. I think it’s why I like the GDPR as a document in the first place: it reads like a dystopian cyberpunk text that young punks in the future will repeat back verbatim to quasi-governmental robots that are beating the snot out of them because their social credit score has fallen too low.

Whoops, I went off into la-la land there again at the end*. But what can I say? I’m on vacation! 🌴🍹


* You try talking about this without landing on the subject of killer robots. It’s not so easy. It’s like Godwin’s law, but for killer robots and data processing.

Tom Delonge UFO explainer

In case you were wondering…

I’ve never liked Blink 182, so cracking the lead singer, Tom Delonge’s (pronounced da-long) strange fascination with all things UFO is a bit of a chore since there seem to be a bunch of bad quality Youtube videos on the subject which are gently serenaded by the group’s irritating tunes.

Putting that prejudgement aside, I’ve been vacationing down the 🐇 🕳 which I keep seeing come up on /r/conspiracy related to Tom Delonge’s quest for UFO disclosure.

Anyway, I watched a bunch of bad videos on the subject so you don’t have to – or maybe so you can two. idk. Either way, I recommend starting here:

This video is often referenced elsewhere. Basically, in the Wikileaks DNC dump, we can find references to emails between John Podesta (then presidential advisor) and Tom Delonge about high-level talks around possible UFO disclosure. Here’s one such email from Wikileaks for reference.

I tried watching Delonge’s appearance on Larry King but found it unbearably boring, so follow that link if you want.

This video of somebody named Grant Cameron interviewed in a hotel room at a UFO conference about mostly Delonge is long and rambling and has a few interesting parts.

So take this for whatever it’s worth. Anyway there is a Reddit thread which basically summarizes the video here.

“In a recent interview UFO researcher Grant Cameron claims to have some info regarding Tom’s upcoming announcement.

  • The goal of the operation is to get the story out through Hollywood
  • It’s a billion dollar project backed by one of the richest people in the world
  • 100-episode series that will run for 5 years, directed by Spielberg amd J.J. Abrams

“It’s not gonna be full disclosure, but it’s going to be massive.”

By ‘disclosure’ we’re talking about public announcement/acknowledgement by the US government that extraterrestrials exist, and we’ve been in contact with them as a species since… whatever date. Roswell? The 1950’s? Not fully sure here and doesn’t really matter, as each researcher seems to have their own ideas.

Anyway, I’ve also found some bizarre mentions of Delonge on Reddit within the last week or so. Something about some predatory behavior (of others) and possibly human trafficking? It’s all pretty suspicious, taken as a whole.

Apparently Delonge’s media company which he wants to pin all the possibly-real/possibly-misinformation disclosure stuff onto as a franchis is To the Stars, and he has a book series with Peter Levenda, called Sekret Machines — the spelling of which “drives me nuts” but oh well.

But yeah, that’s basically that. Now you know probably everything you might ever need to know on the subject — and then some!

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