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Zuckerberg admits social media is a weapon, says Facebook in ‘arms race’ against ‘bad actors’

By Danielle Ryan | RT | September 5, 2018

If you had any lingering doubt that Facebook has become little more than a vehicle for US government censorship and Western propaganda, a recent Washington Post op-ed by Mark Zuckerberg should remove any ambiguity.

In his short and snappy op-ed, Mark Zuckerberg admits that “protecting democracy” is an “arms race” and reaffirms Facebook’s commitment to winning. Put another way, Zuckerberg is telling us that social media is a weapon —  and that he has picked a side.

Because, let’s not labor under the false illusion that Facebook cares about democracy everywhere. In Zuckerberg’s world, there are bad guys and good guys — and he’s relying on the good guys to tell him what’s what.

The problem is that, coincidentally, the good guys always seem to be tied to Western or Western-aligned governments — and the bad guys always just happen to be the ones those governments don’t seem to like very much. A conundrum which I’m sure was totally unintentional and which Facebook is no doubt working very hard on figuring out. As he says in the Post, Facebook is working very hard to “improve its defenses” against any kind of unfair or nefarious influence and it has been doing its very best to remove “fake accounts and bad content” in recent months.

The military comparisons (“arms race” and “improving our defenses”) are perhaps more apt than Zuckerberg even intended, given that for some of this work, he has chosen to partner up with the Atlantic Council, which operates essentially as a soft-power lobbying wing for NATO, campaigning vociferously on behalf of the US-led military organization and championing its wars and “interventions” across the world.

In a roundabout sort of way, Zuckerberg’s op-ed is unintentionally honest, because a huge amount more can be inferred from what he doesn’t say than what he does say.

Funnily enough, despite offering a list of actions Facebook has taken against what Zuckerberg calls “bad actors” online, the psyops and social media manipulation orchestrated by Western governments — chiefly, the US, UK and Israeli governments — don’t get so much as a passing mention in his op-ed. This is odd, given his sincere and deep commitment to combating fake news and misinformation. Clearly, the little democracy fairies that whisper orders in his ear every day must have forgotten to mention them. I mean, let’s give the guy a break. It’s a big responsibility to have the fate of democracy resting on your shoulders.

But let’s say someone did slip a note onto Zuckerberg’s desk about some really nefarious stuff that’s been going on under his nose for years. What might it say?

Well, it might mention a 2011 report in the Guardian newspaper which exposed that the US government was at that time developing a ‘sock puppet’ software program, designed by the US military, to “fake online identities” for the purpose of influencing online conversations and spreading pro-American propaganda. What’s worse, this wasn’t even really a secret.

To build its influence campaign, United States Central Command (Centcom) awarded a contract to a California-based company to develop an “online persona management service” allowing one serviceperson to control up to ten different fake identities, which the contract stated must have convincing and believable background stories. But don’t worry, CENTCOM said it was all about combating terrorism, that they were not targeting Facebook or Twitter and they were only trying to fool foreigners who speak languages like “Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto” — so, no problem then. I mean, if they say it, it must be true.

The note to Zuckerberg might also mention that in 2015, the British Army proudly announced it was developing a new brigade to specialize in psychological warfare on social media. The ‘77th Brigade’ employs social media “warriors” (the Russians have “trolls” and “bots” — but the UK has “warriors”)  who use “non-lethal engagement and legitimate non-military levers as a means to adapt behaviours” online — a fairly long-winded way to say: “We do propaganda.”

It is also known that the British GCHQ and the NSA in the US operate entire programs dedicated to discrediting adversaries online through sophisticated disinformation campaigns involving fake emails and blog posts.

At the beginning of this year, the Israeli Army set up its “Center for Consciousness Operations” which was described by Haaretz as “a new ‘soft power’ psychological warfare unit”. Of course, this was not Israel’s first attempt at manipulating opinion online. The Israeli Army has previously invested in similar programs, with the government announcing in 2013 that it was willing to pay Israeli students to circulate pro-Israeli information online. The IDF is known to be active on 30 platforms including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and operating in six languages. But the centre of “consciousness operations” was part of a new push to “influence the enemy and Western opinion over Israel’s military moves” through social media and other online platforms.

Zuckerberg’s mind will be blown when he hears about all this. No doubt he would march straight back to Capitol Hill and demand an immediate explanation.

Facebook has steadfastly ignored any evidence that these governments are engaged in massive online influence campaigns because they’re the ‘good’ guys so what they do online doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s worse than that. Facebook not only does not care what these governments do, it actively helps them do it.

One recent example was the temporary removal of the Telesur English page on Facebook without explanation. It just so happens that Telesur is one of the only English-language sources of news on Venezuela that offers a perspective which differs from Washington’s view. A coincidence, surely.

Then there’s the fact that Facebook has been deleting the accounts of Palestinian activists at the behest of the Israeli government, as the Intercept reported last year. Over one four-month period, Facebook removed 95 percent of the accounts that Tel Aviv demanded to be taken down. It’s important to note that “demanded” is the correct word here, given that Israel threatened Facebook with new laws which would have forced them to comply with deletion orders if they did not do so voluntarily.

In his op-ed, Zuckerberg claims (correctly) that social media platforms like Facebook are targeted by “sophisticated, well-funded adversaries” who are getting smarter about covering their tracks. But he simply can’t be taken seriously while ignoring the clear evidence that the very governments and ‘fact checkers’ he is so keen to work with to ‘combat’ disinformation are knee-deep in this exact activity.

In reality, we can’t expect Zuckerberg to start caring about any of this. During a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg all but confirmed that Facebook willingly acts on behalf of the US government when she assured senators that the platform would never take action to favor a “hostile foreign power” over the US or its military.

But Facebook executives are one thing and the media is another. While Western journalists have sought to wrangle as many headlines as possible out of stories about “Russian meddling” online, they have shown curiously little interest in online propaganda campaigns run by their own governments.

Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin. Her work has appeared in Salon, The Nation, Rethinking Russia, teleSUR, RBTH, The Calvert Journal and others. Follow her on Twitter @DanielleRyanJ

Read more:

Facebook’s anonymous censors take down Latin America’s Telesur, and nothing can stop them

September 6, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia never placed ads on Facebook to interfere in US election – Kremlin

RT | September 22, 2017

Moscow has nothing to do with political advertisements on Facebook that were allegedly aimed at influencing the 2016 US presidential election, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday.

“We don’t know who placed the advertisements on Facebook or how, and have never done it. The Russian side has never been part of it,” Peskov told journalists on Friday.

Earlier, Facebook reported that a Russian agency had purchased some ads on the social network during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Facebook co-founder and Chairman Mark Zuckerberg said on Thursday that the company is “actively working with the US government on its ongoing investigations into Russian interference.”

The company also said that it “will help government authorities complete the vitally important work of assessing what happened in the 2016 election.”

“We are looking into foreign actors, including additional Russian groups and other former Soviet states, as well as organizations like the campaigns, to further our understanding of how they used our tools,” Zuckerberg said.

Russian Senator Konstantin Kosachev says Zuckerberg is apparently trying to improve his relations with the US authorities.

“It is known that some time ago Facebook was suspected of too much affection for [Hillary] Clinton and antipathy to Trump, who is quite vindictive as we all know. So let’s see what ‘evidence’ will be provided,” the head of the upper house’s Committee for International Relations told RT.

He also stressed that it would be interesting to see any investigation of Washington’s meddling in other countries’ affairs by Facebook.

“Zuckerberg, apparently, has not carried out any months-long investigations concerning the actions of the US to intervene in the affairs of other sovereign countries,” Kosachev said.

“I am sure that if such an inquiry were held, then countless [amounts of] evidence would be found.”

Earlier in September, Facebook said it had discovered some 3,000 ads purchased between June 2015 and May 2017, connected to 470 “inauthentic” accounts and pages, which might have been related Russia’s alleged meddling.

However, the company did not directly accuse Russia and admitted that the “vast majority of ads run by these accounts” had nothing to do with the election, voting, or a particular candidate.

The US has been struggling credibly to accuse Moscow of meddling in the 2016 presidential election – a claim that Russia has strongly denied. No evidence of Russia’s alleged hacking of the US elections has been presented.

“The Russians interfered in our election…it is the high-confidence judgment of the entire intelligence community…,” former FBI director James Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June. However, neither he nor special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign produced any evidence to support the assertion.

“The ex-FBI director said that he believes that there was Russian meddling in the electoral process [in the US], but at the same time provided no proof of that,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in June.

Another giant Internet company, Google, said earlier in September that it had failed to unearth any facts that would implicate Moscow in exploiting advertising to manipulate the election.

Read more:

‘We’re at war’: ‘Committee to Investigate Russia’ weaponizes Morgan Freeman in anti-Moscow hysteria

September 22, 2017 Posted by | Fake News, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

Friends, “fake news”, and censorship pays off big. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s net worth jumps $5 billion in two weeks

By Alex Christoforou | The Duran | January 15, 2017

Facebook has been coming under fire for promoting “fake news”.

The huge social network was pressured by the neo-liberal left deep state to censor news that harms the Soros “Open Society” globalist agenda, pushed heavily under the Barack Obama presidency.

Facebook folded to the neo-liberal agenda like origami, and decided to crack down on “fake news”.

It looks like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is reaping the rewards for decisions made to crack down on “fake news”.

In the first two weeks of 2017, Zuckerberg’s net worth jumped by nearly $5 billion. This is the biggest gain of any person in the world.

Climbing ad revenues and a series of bullish analyst reports, are credited for Facebook’s shares inching closer to October’s all-time high.

Forbes has the details of the Facebook founder’s two week, $5 billion good fortune…

Zuckerberg, who owns 410 million company shares, has more than recouped the losses he suffered in the weeks following Donald Trump’s election, when his net worth fell 7% to $49 billion. He is now worth an estimated $53.8 billion dollars, according to FORBES’ real-time rankings of the world’s billionaires, and clocks in as the planet’s fifth-richest person; Zuckerberg trails only Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Amancio Ortega of Spain, each of whom holds a fortune of more than $70 billion.

Zuckerberg’s $5 billion surge vastly outpaces the gains of any other individual on the FORBES billionaires list, based on data compiled between the start of normal trading hours on January 3 and the end of normal trading at 4:00 P.M. EST on Friday, January 13.

Of course, Facebook’s spiking share price cannot be attributed to any single event, but the company has received a string of positive press as of late for its efforts to tackle the proliferation of fake news content on its site. On Wednesday it unveiled a new “journalism project,” with the goal of improving its relationship with the media and increasing “news literacy.” The initiative follows a previously announced plan to “[disrupt] fake news economics” by preventing abusive media outlets from using Facebook’s ad-placing technology.

Zuckerberg, who famously founded the social media giant as a 19-year-old Harvard undergrad, has watched his personal fortune consistently rise year after year. In 2016 he cracked the top five on The Forbes 400 for the first time, placing fourth behind Gates, Buffett and Bezos. If Facebook maintains its current trajectory, he may soon place even higher.

We completely agree with Forbes… if Facebook continues to play nice with the globalist deep state, censoring any opposing voices, then expect more positive “buy” stock analysis to propel FB to the valuation stratosphere.

Users on the other hand are seemingly unimpressed with FB’s recent censorship business model, rating the social network as the sixth worst company in the United States.

Pissed off users, neo-liberal globalist darling… something has got to give.

January 15, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Fake News, Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Zuckerberg hints at third-party news verification to fight ‘fake news’ on Facebook

RT | November 19, 2016

fb2Facebook may entrust a third party with verifying content to stop so-called ‘fake news’ from spreading, its head said in a post. The social network, which is many people’s primary source of news, has recently been criticized for spreading misinformation.

Outgoing US President Barack Obama launched the war on ‘fake news’ last week, complaining that it may have had an adverse effect on the presidential election. He claimed that social media hosts “much active misinformation” that “looks the same when you see it on a Facebook page or you turn on your television.”

There is speculation that fake news about presidential candidates may have played a considerable role in swaying the minds of voters who ultimately elected Republican Donald Trump. Facebook head Mark Zuckerberg initially dismissed the notion as “pretty crazy,” but this week Facebook and Google both said they would change their ad policies to prevent fake news websites from using their systems.

In a Friday post, Zuckerberg gave an update on how his network is planning to fight misinformation.

“Historically, we have relied on our community to help us understand what is fake and what is not,” he said, explaining that the reporting mechanism already in place on the site fights fake news along with clickbait, spam, and scams.

This may be not enough to combat inaccurate news content, however, so Facebook is considering engaging “trusted third parties” to filter out fake news.

Another possible approach would be to have Facebook police itself, which would mean installing “better technical systems to detect what people will flag as false before they do it themselves,” the FB head said.

Links to news stories classified by the network as untruthful would be flagged as fake for people trying to share or read them, according to Zuckerberg.

False stories circulating on Facebook during America’s presidential election campaign included one claiming that anchor Megyn Kelly had been fired from Fox News, another alleging an FBI agent involved in the Clinton investigation had been murdered, and even an announcement that the Pope had endorsed Trump.

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | 6 Comments

We Don’t Want Mark Zuckerberg’s Charity

By Jacob Farnman | Jacobin | December 7, 2015

The media-as-public-relations-machine was in full swing last week, abuzz over Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s public letter to their daughter that contained a $45 billion pledge to establish the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative.

The mainstream media produced an avalanche of praise. “Mark Zuckerberg Philanthropy Pledge Sets New Giving Standard,” announced Bloomberg Business, who declared that Zuckerberg and Chan were “setting a new philanthropic benchmark by committing their massive fortune to charitable causes while still in their early thirties.” From the Wall Street Journal came more praise: “Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan to Give 99% of Facebook Shares to Charity.”

But when BuzzFeed revealed the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative was not a nonprofit, but a for-profit Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), which has no obligation to actually engage in charitable activity, the tenor of some of the commentary became more negative. Was the donation to a Delaware-based LLC nothing more than a way to duck California taxes?

The truth is that both nonprofit and for-profit charities can and do serve as tax shelters for the obscenely wealthy. Non-profits themselves have few restrictions around them, and only require that 5 percent of a foundation’s assets each year be spent towards its stated charitable goals, including expenses and lobbying.

Still, in the last few years we’ve seen the growth of ventures like Google.org, the charitable but largely for-profit division of Google created in 2006 with $900 million worth of Google stock. Freed from the even the limited guidelines to which nonprofits are held, some of the projects Google.org has poured money into have happened to also generate mountainous profits for Google.

For example, the One Laptop Per Child initiative’s stated mission to get $100 computers into the hands of “each and every one” of the world’s poorest children also captures lucrative data from millions of new computer users in almost entirely untapped markets.

Similar to Google.org, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative chose a form that would allow them to invest in profit-making initiatives, including ones that could bring new profits to Facebook. Chan and Zuckerberg’s pledge to give everyone on earth access to the Internet, like the One Laptop Per Child initiative, will both provide real services for a great many people while simultaneously creating millions of new potential Facebook users (although they do perhaps overstate with the claim, “If our generation connects them, we can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty”).

At the same time, Chan Zuckerberg can take advantage of their status as a tax-qualified charity to save huge sums of money. As Forbes observed:

This generosity is also incredibly tax efficient . . . Donating appreciated stock is a much better tax move than selling it and donating the sales proceeds. After all, by donating the stock, the gain he would have experienced on selling it is never taxed . . . since [Chan Zuckerberg] is a tax-qualified charity, if it sells the stock it pays no tax regardless of how big the gain. And since Mr Zuckerberg will get credit on his tax return for the market value of what he donates, he can use that to shelter billions of other income.

Of course, sizable donations to charity frequently receive glowing press coverage which is also quite valuable. The transformation of Bill Gates’s reputation — Zuckerberg’s childhood hero — after creating the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is instructive.

Throughout the 1990s Microsoft’s hyperaggressive business practices resulted in a 2000 Justice Department verdict that Microsoft was a monopoly. Several billion dollars in fines from myriad US and European regulatory bodies followed and Bill Gates was widely painted as a bully in the popular press.

The PR turnaround afforded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation might be the most effective — and expensive — in history. Today Bill Gates is treated by the media as an important thinker in the fight against disease and the debates around education reform. He is regarded as a humanitarian with something to say about making the world a better place, a regard that stands in contrast to his actual commitments.

Since the early days of Microsoft, Gates has ardently supported patent law and its enforcement, which puts medicines out of reach for most, particularly in the Global South. He has also thrown millions at a host of education initiatives that are so anti-teacher that the American Federation of Teachers recently announced they would no longer take money from the Gates Foundation.

Zuckerberg has already attempted to use a big donation to improve his reputation and that of Facebook, which has repeatedly been caught capturing private information with the intention to monetize it. His $100 million donation to charter schools in Newark was timed just weeks after the release of the Zuckerberg biopic The Social Network, and right before the release of charter school booster documentary Waiting for Superman. Time will tell what this latest attempt at reputation management does for Zuckerberg’s public standing.

Everyone has ideas about how the world should be different and those with vast fortunes have an inordinate amount of power to realize those visions. Sometimes the vision is for a cause like fighting malaria or providing homeless shelters. Other times it’s more self-interested, like when Bill and Melinda Gates put Windows computers in high schools, keeping Macs out and training a generation to use Windows machines.

More importantly, the concentration of so much power and reach in the hands of billionaire philanthropists presents real problems for democracy. Every dollar a billionaire realizes in “tax savings” is a dollar starved from the public coffers. The tens of billions Zuckerberg would pay in taxes could go a very long way to, say, enhancing the $69 billion budget allocated for public education this year.

While the US government is certainly not a bastion of democracy, there are at least formal mechanisms that put tax-based, public funding in the realm of democratic decision-making. There are public budget proposals, hearings, and votes, and elections through which we can attempt to hold politicians accountable for their actions. We’ll most likely only have a vague idea what is happening with the money controlled by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; their LLC status will allow them to avoid making many tax documents public.

These sorts of charitable enterprises give even more control to capitalists — who already have outsized influence in our society — putting them in positions to make decisions that increasingly shape public life for all of us. People like Zuckerberg and Gates are unelected and unaccountable to anyone and face few, if any, repercussions for the negative consequences of their social experiments.

Zuckerberg’s education initiative exemplifies this outsized and damaging role. Despite his limited personal experience with public school — he attended the elite Phillips Exeter Academy and then Harvard — Zuckerberg has begun to commit serious sums of money to reforming public education. His signature donation was $100 million to replace Newark’s public schools with charters. Working with former Newark mayor Corey Booker and Republican Governor Chris Christie, the goal was to completely transform Newark’s schools in five years, and turn them into a model for restructuring other districts across the country.

In order to achieve reforms quickly, they had to bypass the process of public engagement. Free from the constraints of government deliberation, the plans of the nonprofit foundation were not made public until after key decisions had been made. Newark residents first learned about the program the afternoon Booker, Christie, and Zuckerberg announced it on Oprah.

Once the foundation was established, seats on its board were awarded to those who contributed more than $5 million. “A local philanthropist offered $1 million,” reported Diane Ravitch, “but he was turned away because the amount was too small.”

The Newark experiment was a resounding failure and did little more than line the pockets of consultants. Test scores didn’t rise considerably, teachers resisted merit pay, and the woman hired to run the district refuses to attend School Board Advisory meetings because they are still too hostile. The debacle still follows Zuckerberg. Last week, many of the most glowing reports of his $45 billion donation had to mention his previous philanthropic endeavor.

Zuckerberg has continued to make investments in education since Newark, claiming he’s learned from the experience and wants to improve. Still, he’s just one relatively new player in the education reform movement.

The Gates Foundation has spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to restructure the US public school system, with $200 million going to Common Core — a curriculum initiative opposed by educators and parents across the country. Eli Broad Foundation has also spent lavishly — including a nearly $500 million plan to put half of Los Angeles students into 260 new charter schools. The Walton Foundation has spent over $1 billion supporting charters and vouchers.

The war on public education by the ultra wealthy — using tax-sheltered dollars which otherwise might have gone to improve public education — reveals a deep hostility to democracy.

We should demand better: Instead of waiting to see how his charity will impact our lives, Zuckerberg’s wealth should be put under democratic control, so we can collectively decide how it can be used to improve society.

April 27, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 1 Comment

Paved with good intentions: When showbiz & charity become political instruments

By Sam Gerrans | RT | January 5, 2016

Public opinion is increasingly influenced by mixing politics, business and entertainment with good causes. When Mark Zuckerberg announced he was giving away most of his money, people got excited. But charity and good causes are rarely what they seem.

Politics – as the adage goes – is show business for ugly people.

If by ‘show business’ we mean the implementation of a script worked out in advance by people the public never hears about and dressed up to resemble a spontaneous and passable substitute for reality, then I would agree.

What I see, though, is just as all other norms are being redefined and merged with their polar opposites to form a new mush designed to confuse and debilitate, so the beautiful people are being blended with the ugly ones to form a new compound agent.

The first feet over the line appeared in the 1960s. They belonged to JFK who was the first TV president star, and Muhammad Ali, the first major sports star activist.

Since then, the trickle has turned into a deluge, with a lot of the traffic coming from Hollywood and big business.

Just to be clear: I’m not bemoaning the injection of a lack of purity into the political discourse. I have no time for any politician in power of any stripe who does not actively and openly work to wrest power away from international bankers. Outside of Iceland, I’m still waiting.

But today, it is commonplace – almost expected – for a star or an industrial magnate to get behind a cause.

Charities, philanthropies and foundations

Charities and philanthropies have two attractive qualities if you’re in the business of pushing through an agenda quietly. Firstly, they are tax-exempt. Secondly, they are beyond criticism.

People’s naiveté is staggering. They believe that industrial magnates and investors – men who have spent their lives screwing people over – suddenly and for no reason fall under the influence of benevolent fairy dust.

They want to believe that the Warren Buffetts and George Soroses – men whose careers are characterized by reflex ruthlessness – are suddenly compelled to go out and do random acts of kindness.

What, in fact, is happening is that these men are creating foundations: corporations that will never pay any tax and which will continue to advance an agenda none of us voted for – in perpetuity.

A foundation will hire and retire generations of directors and workers, all of whom will be suborned to the Articles governing that foundation at the time it was created. The DNA of the founder is enshrined in a legal entity, given boundless amounts of money, and then allowed to follow an agenda invariably directed towards ‘change’ – change no one ever heard about, never mind voted for.

What foundations (and charities or so-called philanthropies) do not do is give away money. What they, in fact, do is allow money to be released to persons or organizations, which must then do very specific things with it. In short, they subcontract out the implementation of their guiding Articles to the recipients of their ‘charity’.

If it is still hard for you to embrace the notion that what is termed ‘charity’ or ‘philanthropy’ could be anything but benign, I recommend watching Norman Dodd interviewed by the excellent G. Edward Griffin. Norman Dodd was, in 1954, the Staff Director of the Congressional Special Committee to Investigate Tax-Exempt Foundations. He knew how they really work.

Agenda 21

Mainstream media works hard, generally speaking, to defuse criticism of Agenda 21. Similar to philanthropy, it uses warm, fuzzy terminology. It talks, for example, about ‘sustainable development’ – and who could be against that?

Glenn Beck nailed it when he said: “Sustainable development is just a really nice way of saying centralized control over all of human life on planet earth.

Bill Gates has gone from knowing how to make computer software (which defies any intelligent attempt to use it and now spies on you), to being an expert on the environment (i.e. how all of us should live), which is at the core of Agenda 21.

He couldn’t make an operating system that didn’t crash and turn blue every time you wanted to do something, but he’s got the solution to the problem which was identified by his buddy Al Gore, who went from almost inventing the internet and almost being president of the United States to almost winning the Nobel Peace Prize (he shared it with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and who – like Bill – is an expert on how we all should live.

Bill explains with nerd-like zeal the need to reduce carbon emissions to “almost zero” (which, since humans are carbon-based life forms, would require our virtual extinction), and among his toolkit for achieving this aim is “a really great job on new vaccines.”

Bill Gates also has a tax-free foundation. Knowing how – and, in fact, if – the rest of us should have children is something of a family business for Gates. His father, W. H. Gates, was a director of Planned Parenthood, and also a ‘philanthropist’.

Eye candy

Actors and pop stars get adoration and money – at least the successful ones do. And if you live in a grim area and work in a boring job that can seem like the zenith of all possible joy.

However, the appeal wears off after a while. You don’t just want to speak other people’s words. You want to say something significant yourself. You’ve spent your life scrambling up a greasy pole to get respect, only to find yourself secretly afraid that people don’t take you seriously.

Such people, then, are nothing if not vain. That’s partly why they went into the business in the first place.

So it’s not difficult to utilize both their vanity and their proven skills in delivering dialogue they didn’t write and don’t understand, in order to push forward agendas they could never grasp.

Such people are Bill Gates and Warren Buffett writ small. Very small. Because while they might seem like gods to you, they have no real power. They are only ever one misjudged comment away from never working again, and they are all terrified of having to go back and live with the unwashed masses.

People such as Gates and Buffett and Gore are pretty dull to most people. Joe Public is not accustomed to listening to suits. But he has thousands of hours invested in giving his rapt attention to Hollywood stars and musicians.

This makes them useful to those who really do understand power; who can make where the rubber meets the road – where vanity meets inanity – serve to push forward the agenda the grown-ups came up with.

Pop people are basically used by the system to sell a new weaponized culture to the target audience. It is an obvious move to use those tried-and-tested puppets to sell more of that same agenda.

So Angelina Jolie was gushed over by the Telegraph, in part for her intrepid journey to Darfur and then for lecturing the Council on Foreign Relations (a place where real power resides) on the need to do the things in Darfur – stuff the CFR was planning on doing anyway, but was unable to express in a way that did not send people to sleep.

Bono, for his part, has gone from anthems against the establishment to eulogies in its praise. He is big friends with Bill Gates, for example, and likes to chew the cud with him on the ‘charity’ they are both involved in.

You name the star, they’ll have a cause. From Emma Watson (who at the age of 25 is already an ‘activist’) to George Clooney to Scarlett Johansson – they are all out there treading the boards of seemingly worthy narratives, looking authentic and concerned, and investing dullness with magic.

The fact that few if any of them could write an undergraduate paper unaided on the subject they are supposedly experts in doesn’t matter. People follow the stars. And the people who control the stars know that.

Very occasionally, someone goes off-script; someone claws his way to a position of prominence by sheer grit and talent and then just says what he thinks. Tyson Fury comes to mind.

Then the media is less interested in causes and more interested in damage limitation, wringing its hands at the incongruity of someone capable of Wrongthink being fantastically good at something.

Something tells me Mr Fury isn’t going to be invited to share his thoughts with the Council on Foreign Relations or to hug trees with Bill Gates.

I also wonder how long we’ll have to wait to find a star using the Oscars to speak out in favor of no sex before marriage or tipping buckets of cold water over themselves to highlight the evils of usury.

I’m thinking Hell will freeze over first.

Read more:Gates Foundation focuses $3bn agro-fund on rich countries, ‘pushes GMO agenda in Africa’

January 7, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Science and Pseudo-Science, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Zuckerberg Donation and a Legacy of Control

By Alfredo Lopez | This Can’t Be Happening! | December 17, 2015

When I was very young, my parents used to tell me why having “lots of toys” wasn’t a good idea. “The more you have, the more you want,” they would say. I didn’t have many toys — we were poor — so the idea of possessions feeding greed didn’t make much sense to me then.

But I’ve learned the truth of that statement from observation over the years and lately I’ve been observing Mark Zuckerberg.

Zuckerberg is a 31-year-old computer programmer who did two things that made him famous: he founded Facebook, the social networking super service, and, as a result, he amassed a fortune worth about $46 billion. His bank account is as large as the capitalization of many countries.

How he got to these lofty heights of wealth and cultural impact is a matter of often fierce debate — he’s been sued by former “partners” several times. But what’s more important than how he got control of Facebook is what he’s constructed with it: a ubiquitous presence in the lives of a billion people with the potential to frame and manipulate their communications, their relationships and, to a frighteningly large extent, their lives.

So last month, when Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced in a letter to their new baby — a rather novel way to package a press release — that, over the course of their lives, they will give almost all their Facebook shares to a project called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, the world took note.

The Initiative, they explained, would “advance human potential and promote equality” in health, education, scientific research, and energy. In short, change the world: on its face, a worthy cause. But, like many of Zuckerberg’s plans and projects, this one has another side that is darker, more cynical and, even if only partially successful, a potential nightmare for the human race.

How many zeroes are there in $46 billion? More than most of us will ever see. So it’s tough for us “average people” to fathom what a billionaire does with his or her money. Even living the most opulent life-style imaginable wouldn’t start to dent those savings in a bank — the interest alone would pay for everything you could imagine owning. That, in a sense, is Mark Zuckerberg’s dilemma. At 31, he has so much money he doesn’t know what to do with it.

So he follows a long capitalist tradition called philanthropy. In projects that range from supporting education to enhancing Internet access world-wide to tackling specific social problems, Zuckerberg has thrown money at social inequality like a park visitor throws bread-crumbs to pigeons…except the pigeons actually benefit.

When he gave $100 million to the Newark Public Schools, the money was largely wasted with very little impact on the quality of education in that embattled city. When he has joined other rich philanthropists, like Warren Buffett, in a string of similar projects — funding schools or programs in other U.S. cities, giving major endowments to hospitals or funding initiatives in Global South countries — they have usually fallen short of their expectations or projected expectations that didn’t make much sense in the long term. Some good happens but the social problems remain and often deepen.

At the same time, he’s used his wealth and power to launch Internet projects like one that brings together almost a million software developers to work on Facebook improvement and another, called Beacon, that enables people to share information with their Facebook friends based on their browsing activities on other sites (also providing a huge resource to advertisers and marketing people).

In the Summer of 2013, Zuckerberg launched “Internet.org” whose stated purpose is to bring internet access to over 5 billion people world-wide. The access, however, is partial; only certain websites will be seen by these newly connected people in part because many of the world’s governments don’t allow full access to the Internet. Users will, however, be able to fully access Facebook.

Then there’s Facebook itself which continues to expand. With over a billion users, the company has control over the information, data and communications of much of the human race. All of it is contained in an Internet protocol that feels like the conversation at a party where everyone’s had a few drinks. Short statements followed by long strings of one sentence responses, fattened by photos and videos with no real explanation of their importance and a huge “friends” section. It’s a snapshot of your life without the depth, thinking and development that makes it precious to the rest of us.

But that basic information is very valuable to advertisers and marketing companies who can use your activities and friends lists to develop a consumer profile of you. Facebook sells it to them and then fashions advertising programs that display ads that reflect your buying patterns and insert them into the flow of messages (at a premium advertising rate). It also turns the information over to government spy agencies like the NSA.

Facebook admits no sin. It claims that its user agreement allows it to “share relevant information on users” with advertisers for the users’ “convenience” (and, of course, to generate fantastic revenue) and that it can’t legally refuse to share information the NSA demands. None of which changes the reality of what it does and the potential impact that this has on people’s lives.

There’s a common thread to Zuckerberg’s projects. Those that are completely devoid of benefit to him and his company usually fall short of expectations. Projects that are at least partially successful, while they may benefit people, return a hefty benefit for Facebook.

Throughout all of this, Zuckerberg has trotted the globe projecting an image of a young genius whose altruism and concern for the planet and its people drive his daily activities. He’s written about all the time and been the subject of a major motion picture, The Social Network, although it portrays him in a less than flattering light.

What’s interesting about this record of double-edged philanthropy and innovation is that, contrary to the movie’s depictions of him as a snide self-absorbed jerk, Zuckerberg is by most accounts a friendly, open, funny and fairly humble guy. He and his wife have eschewed ostentatious shows of wealth, travelled mainly to speak with leaders and thinkers world-wide (rather than spend months lounging on beaches) and spent most of their time as a couple doing the things normal couples do (like walk around places rather than take a limousine). What’s more, people who know and work with him insist that his concern for the world is not only honest but consuming. In short, they say, he’s the real deal.

The question, however, is can the real deal be all that real using wealth generated by a morally corrupt economic system that pursues profit over any aspect of human life or well-being? In other words, can you provide a nutritious meal when the food is poisoned?

The answer, demonstrated throughout history, is “no”. You can’t and neither can Mark Zuckerberg.

Philanthropy is about control and always has been. The great philanthropists who’ve left their footprint in huge foundations and museums and universities were also among the most exploitative and viciously repressive capitalists of their time. Morally trapped by their immense fortunes, they have sought to control, not only the daily work activities of people (the source of their wealth), but our culture, education, thinking, social life and the other activities that consume every single second of our existence.

Such control protects their wealth in many ways but that’s not the principal reason for this “giving”. Their motivation is to shape our society as they shape our days. Like monarchs dictating reality from a throne, they want it all and, through philanthropy, they get it.

This is the culture in which Mark Zuckerberg functions. His projects have in common a certainty that his perspective and interests (and the system that creates them) offer a future to the human race no other perspective can. His internet projects not only develop internet skill but tie people to Facebook and the “quick message” and superficial relationship culture it drives. Even with his Internet.org project, Zuckerberg can’t conceive of a world in which people make their own decisions about where to go and what to do on the Internet. He is, effectively, trying to take control of the world.

His latest project is an illustration of that approach. Rather than create a foundation, the couple has created a limited partnership corporation, a legal form that has tax benefits, avoids much of the government scrutiny foundations deal with and allows for a much greater secrecy in its functioning and decision-making. A red flag is now flying.

That corporation, one would assume, will now dole out money to projects with potential but who decides the potential? We don’t know but since the corporation belongs to Mark and Priscilla one would assume that they have a big say. As a corporation, it doesn’t have to limit spending to non-profit ventures; it can invest in companies and profit-making projects if it wants. It can even invest in Zuckerberg companies and projects: basically, funding his own work.

While they are busy doling, by the way, Chan and Zuckerberg are still firmly in control of their assets since all that is happening is that the stock of Facebook is cashed in and put into the new company’s bank account with considerable tax benefits (since it’s a reinvestment).

Zuckerberg has yet to specify the projects his new venture will fund but, based on his past, we can confidently speculate. He will continue to encourage development as a way of molding human activity in accord with his vision of it. He will use that spectacular wealth to take even greater control of culture and education. Most of all, he will continue to spread his grasp of the Internet, the one thing that enables human interaction and resists this kind of control.

If Facebook is Zuckerberg’s vision of what on-line communications should be, the remarkable wealth of knowledge, shared thinking, compared experiences and, let us not forget, organizing that has become possible with the Internet will progressively be reduced to a ping-pong game of superficial statements and “likes”. If that vision is imposed through funding of education and other aspects of development, creativity and independent critical thinking will suffer and the kind of machine-like “competence” Zuckerberg frequently champions will hammer another nail in humanity’s coffin. If his funding is used to encourage development projects like the ones he has supported in the past, the cooperativism and the coop movement, the most exciting and potentially game-changing movement in today’s world, will find itself battling against odds that are even greater than the odds it currently faces.

In short, he would end up doing much more harm than good, playing a destructive kind of monopoly with real streets, buildings and lives.

Rich people can’t avoid acting that way and that’s why even “progressive” billionaires like Zuckerberg or Buffett are really part of an anti-future. The schemes and projects and reforms they think up in small groups and fund with large money will never improve the world fundamentally. The only way to do that is to build a world where people like them can never exist and such wealth can never be amassed. It’s hard to imagine the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative contributing that world.

December 18, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics, Social Darwinism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

What No One Is Telling You About Mark Zuckerberg Donating 99% Of His Fortune To “Charity”

By Sadho Ram | SAYS | December 2, 2015

By now you must have heard that Mark Zuckerberg along with his wife Priscilla Chan has pledged to give away 99% of his estimated USD45 billion in Facebook stock to charity. Basically, Mark is giving away enough money to fund one of the world’s biggest charities for the next 45 years. Instead, he is funding his own. Here’s how:

The vehicle for his beneficence will be the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative LLC, a family-run foundation that he controls and through which he will maintain control of Facebook for “the foreseeable future.”

Which basically means:

Mark Zuckerberg will transfer ownership of his Facebook stock without paying capital gains taxes. He will also benefit from the possibility that his foundation will live beyond him, with his heirs and their heirs at the helm, untouched by estate taxes.

A Facebook PR, while confirming to BuzzFeed News, said that the initiative is structured as an LLC, and not as a charitable trust

Which means that unlike a charitable trust, which is compelled to spend its money on charity, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, LLC will be able to spend its money on whatever it wants, including private, profit-generating investment.

While charity will certainly be one of the money’s destinations, it will be far from the only one. The money, according to a Facebook SEC filing, will go to “philanthropic, public advocacy, and other activities for the public good.”

One such activity: private investment. A Facebook release this afternoon stated as much.

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative will pursue its mission by funding non-profit organizations, making private investments and participating in policy debates, in each case with the goal of generating positive impact in areas of great need,” it said. “Any profits from investments in companies will be used to fund additional work to advance the mission.”

One more thing about his pledge:

The Facebook founder is not giving away 99% of his Facebook shares all at once. He will be doing it over the course of the rest of his life.

Also, Michael Maiello points out in this Daily Beast piece:

Mark will deduct the fair value of his gift to his foundation from his taxable income in the year he makes the donation. A donor like Mark could realize a tax benefit equal to about one-third of the value of his gift. In this case, he stands to benefit as much as USD333 million, based on the USD1 billion he plans as his first transfer.

Rather than give to existing nonprofits, Mark is doing what other business leaders have recently done. Increasingly siphoning their fortune into their own organisations and this can be problematic.

Alexander C. Kaufman of The Huffington Post explains how:

The desire for control leaves the massive pool of money set aside for charities — about $358 billion in the U.S. last year — divvied between the roughly 1.5 million nonprofits registered in this country. Creating a new organization every time a company or wealthy individual wants to foster change only shrinks the available slices of that pie.

“Just because you were successful in the for-profit world doesn’t mean that nonprofits are a bunch of bleeding-heart idiots that need you to come in and show them how it’s done,” Ken Berger, the managing director of the social-good data service Algorhythm, told The Huffington Post in October. He previously ran the nonprofit watchdog Charity Navigator. “We have one of the most complex and sophisticated nonprofit sectors ever seen. Partnering with others is the best approach.”

That last part is key.

To sum up, his money is not going to a charity, but to his own LLC, which will let him evade tax by moving his private assets into a foundation. See, Zuckerberg doesn’t need massive tax benefits to do whatever he wants. He can just do whatever he wants.

But he will get those tax benefits and estate planning benefits and he will be able to give up his stock while holding onto power over his company.

As Michael Maiello in his Daily Beast piece reveals, “when we pay people like Zuckerberg to fund their own foundations, we are really helping the rich and coddled few even as we thank and honor them for their charity.”

December 4, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , , | 4 Comments

Facebook’s Internet.org, the Anti-Net Neutrality in Action

By Steve Straehley | AllGov | April 26, 2015

The idea sounds great—provide Internet access for the millions of people in developing areas that don’t have it. But in the process of putting that knowledge at the fingertips of that under-served community, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s Internet.org has drawn a bright line between the haves and have-nots.

Zuckerberg’s plan, developed with manufacturers such as Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm and Samsung, allows free access via mobile phones in developing areas only to certain parts of the Internet. Surprise—Facebook is one of the applications able to be reached by way of the Internet.org app. Wikipedia is also available as are weather and a few other sites. But if you want to go to a site not on the app, you must either pay a fee or you’re out of luck.

Latin American leaders, such as Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, have applauded the Internet.org strategy, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). But others, including Carolina Botero, executive director of the Karisma Foundation in Bogotá, have reservations. Karisma supports the positive use of technology as it pertains to human rights. Botero said: “We have serious concerns that Internet.org is presented as a public policy strategy for universal access to the Internet. This initiative compromises everyone’s rights and blurs the government’s obligation to reduce the digital divide for its citizens for compromised access to certain applications. No matter how interesting they are, these services are associated with a commercial interest of a multinational which the state is directly supporting.”

Zuckerberg claims that because Internet.org doesn’t specifically block sites or charge sites more to run faster, the app conforms with net neutrality principles. But more businesses are starting to see it the other way and are opting out of the program, among them a group of Indian publishers.

“We support net neutrality because it creates a fair, level playing field for all companies—big and small—to produce the best service and offer it to consumers,” The Times Group, one of the publishers that withdrew from Internet.org, said in a statement. Other Indian companies to opt out of Internet.org are travel website Cleartrip and information site Newshunt. “What started off with providing a simple search service has us now concerned with influencing customer decision-making by forcing options on them, something that is against our core DNA,” Cleartrip said in a statement, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“The problem runs deeper than simply which sites to which poor users should have subsidized access,” wrote EFF’s David Boagado and Katitza Rodriguez. “It lies in the very concept that Facebook and its corporate partners, or governments, should be able to privilege one service or site above another. Despite the good intentions of Facebook and the handful of allied companies, Internet.org effectively leaves its users without a real Internet in the [Latin American] region.”

The result is “having access to only a sliver of what is supposed to be the worldwide web,” wrote Issie Lapowsky at Wired. “As we’ve said before, this creates ‘an Internet for poor people.’”

Zuckerberg’s response, basically, is that half a loaf is better than none. “Arguments about net neutrality shouldn’t be used to prevent the most disadvantaged people in society from gaining access or to deprive people of opportunity,” he wrote April 17 in a Facebook post. “Eliminating programs that bring more people online won’t increase social inclusion or close the digital divide. It will only deprive all of us of the ideas and contributions of the two thirds of the world who are not connected.”

To Learn More:

Does Internet.org Leave Latin Americans Without A Real Internet? (by David Bogado and Katitza Rodriguez, Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Mark Zuckerberg Can’t Have It Both Ways on Net Neutrality (by Issie Lapowsky, Wired )

Indian Companies Pull Out of Internet.org amid Battle over Net Neutrality (by Aditi Malhotra, Wall Street Journal )

Supreme Court Upholds Cyber Freedom in India (by Karan Singh, AllGov India )

April 26, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Privatized Ebola

By Margaret Kimberley | Black Agenda Report | October 15, 2014

Sierra Leone has waved the white flag in the face of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). Its meager infrastructure has buckled under the onslaught of a disease which could have been curtailed. The announcement that infected patients will be treated at home because there is no longer the capacity to treat them in hospitals is a surrender which did not have to happen. Not only did Europe and the United States turn a blind eye to sick and dying Africans but they did so with the help of an unlikely perpetrator.

The World Health Organization is “the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations system.” Its very name implies that it takes direction from and serves the needs of people all over the world but the truth is quite different. The largest contributor to the WHO budget is not a government. It is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which provides more funding than either the United States or the United Kingdom. WHO actions and priorities are no longer the result of the consensus of the world’s people but top down decision making from wealthy philanthropists.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation may appear to be a savior when it provides $300 million to the WHO budget, but those dollars come with strings attached. WHO director general Dr. Margaret Chan admitted as much when she said, “My budget [is] highly earmarked, so it is driven by what I call donor interests.” Instead of being on the front line when a communicable disease crisis appears, it spends its time administering what Gates and his team have determined is best.

The Ebola horror continues as it has for the last ten months in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The cruelty of the world’s lack of concern for Africa and all Africans in the diaspora was evident by the inaction of nations and organizations that are supposed to respond in times of emergencies. While African governments and aid organizations sounded the alarm the WHO did little because its donor driven process militates against it. The world of private dollars played a role in consigning thousands of people to death.

Critics of the Gates Foundation appeared long before this current Ebola outbreak. In 2008 the WHO’s malaria chief, Dr. Arata Kochi, complained about the conflicts of interest created by the foundation. In an internal memo leaked to the New York Times he complained that the world’s top malaria researchers were “locked up in a ‘cartel’ with their own research funding being linked to those of others within the group.” In other words, the standards of independent peer reviewed research were cast aside in order to please the funder.

Private philanthropy is inherently undemocratic. It is a top down driven process in which the wealthy individual tells the recipient what they will and will not do. This is a problematic system for charities of all kinds and is disastrous where the health of world’s people is concerned. Health care should be a human right, not a charity, and the world’s governments should determine how funds to protect that right are spent. One critic put it very pointedly. “…the Gates Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates, do not believe in the public sector, they do not believe in a democratic, publically owned, publically accountable system.”

There is little wonder why the Ebola outbreak caught the WHO so flat footed as they spent months making mealy mouthed statements but never coordinating an effective response. The Gates foundation is the WHO boss, not governments, and if they weren’t demanding action, then the desperate people affected by Ebola weren’t going to get any.

Privatization of public resources is a worldwide scourge. Education, pensions, water, and transportation are being taken out of the hands of the public and given to rich people and corporations. The Ebola crisis is symptomatic of so many others which go unaddressed or improperly addressed because no one wants to bite the hands that do the feeding.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has pledged an additional $50 million to fight the current Ebola epidemic but that too is problematic, as Director General Chan describes. “When there’s an event, we have money. Then after that, the money stops coming in, then all the staff you recruited to do the response, you have to terminate their contracts.” The WHO should not be lurching from crisis to crisis, SARS, MERS, or H1N1 influenza based on the whims of philanthropy. The principles of public health should be carried out by knowledgeable medical professionals who are not dependent upon rich people for their jobs.

The Gates are not alone in using their deep pockets to confound what should be publicly held responsibilities. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced that he was contributing $25 million to fight Ebola. His donation will go to the Centers for Disease Control Foundation. Most Americans are probably unaware that such a foundation even exists. Yet there it is, run by a mostly corporate board which will inevitably interfere with the public good. The WHO and its inability to coordinate the fight against Ebola tells us that public health is just that, public. If the CDC response to Ebola in the United States fails it may be because it falls prey to the false siren song of giving private interests control of the people’s resources and responsibilities.

Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 2 Comments

Facebook CEO summoning sheer lies: Iran official

Press TV – May 28, 2014

An Iranian judicial official has categorically denied reports that Facebook co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned over complaints of privacy violation.

“News published by certain virtual sites suggesting Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been summoned by [the Iranian ]Justice Ministry’s Fars [Province] Branch is rejected altogether,” said Public Prosecutor of the provincial capital of Shiraz Ali Alqasimehr on Tuesday.

Of course, certain individuals have filed complaints against Facebook for publishing certain images and videos, he further told IRNA.

He also dismissed reports that Facebook-owned WhatsApp and Instagram services have been filtered in Shiraz, saying, “We have had no filtering in that regard so far.”

There are also complaints against the two websites for alleged internet fraud and the release of obscene photos, said the public prosecutor.

Certain media reports on Tuesday claimed that an Iranian judge had summoned the Facebook chief executive to answer allegations that his company’s apps had breached people’s privacy.

May 28, 2014 Posted by | Deception | , , , , | Leave a comment