How Individual 1 Can Win the Shutdown in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Convene a panel of ‘the best experts’ to talk about the effectiveness of the wall and other high technology solutions to tracking and intercepting potential undocumented immigrants. Describe these folks in favored terms of ‘being the best people, very best people’ with ‘great ideas, great.’ Include extremists from the right who greatly favor a wall but also technology gurus who are encouraged to bring their most pie-in-the-sky ideas.
  2. Spend a day acting as if consideration and planning is ongoing.
  3. Declare victory with an announcement of pursuit of the most pie-in-the-sky ideas (be vague) because it was convincing to learn of these amazing technologies that were more effective than a wall and much cheaper. These are technologies that individuals can’t afford and need further development, so walls are great for individuals and gated communities, but not for a powerful and technologically sophisticated nation. We can build them! Call it Wall 2.0.

Dear Facebook,

Dear Facebook,

I left you a few months ago and it was kinda tough. I mean, many people I know run their lives through you. Many groups I desire to be connected with are managed through you. To be connected to these people and these groups requires me to have a Facebook account.

But, Facebook, you are not trustworthy as is evidenced by the numerous reports and inquiries by governments into your activities. You profited substantially from the overthrow of the democratic process of the United State of America. We also know that all the incentives of our government and economic system point towards you doing as little as possible (and possibly nothing at all) to curb the abuses of your users (also known as the product you sell to advertisers).

But, I needed to be connected to some things I really valued. So, I created a new account with a fake name. This is, of course, against your Terms of Service. It’s probably the only thing that most users know is in the Terms of Service, that you have to use ‘the name you go by in everyday life.’ My thought is that you can know a few things about someone with an odd name and as long as they don’t know about ME. I’d have a few of my actual friends and be member of a few groups and all would be well. My critical connections would be maintained. But, you wants to know about ME. You want to connect what it learns about my everyday activities and what I like and dislike on pages to other public information about me: salary, home value, car purchases, whatever you can find by trolling the vast stores of data. You wants to create a detailed snapshot to sell to advertisers so they can target ads. So far, so OK. You serve to me creepily prescient advertisements, but I have the great value of connection to friends ranging back to elementary school.

But, you also sells this data to organizations that actively use it to guide your automated systems to sway opinion, encourage, and discourage voting… the net effect was you are profiting off the active undermining of our electoral system by a foreign power, all while creating a system that enabled others to nefariously use data that was never actually given for their their use.

Facebook, you can’t be trusted with the Real Me. 

You said that someone complained about my name, thinking I was a fake user. (I’m confident it was your automated systems that decided it was fake, whatever.) I’m not fake, but my account is intended to protect my identity. You implied it was OK to have a fake name if my account name was intended to protect me from abuse. I said that was the reason. Maybe I should have said exactly what the abuse was about: Your selling of data about me and ruining the institutions of the United States of America. But, I didn’t and now you’ve decided I’m not real. I’m real, but I’m also taking care of myself.

Anyway, you’ve locked me out now unless I produce a bill or ID with my faked name on it. That ain’t gonna happen. So, I guess our relationship is coming to a conclusive end.

I’m hoping you now goes the way of MySpace.

Libertarian Capitalism Incompatible with Healthcare

The pure model of libertarian capitalism says that the mystical invisible hand of the market will necessarily produce ideal outcomes. But, as the article linked here shows, pure capitalism is inherently incompatible with effective healthcare.

To summarize the Ars Technica article: A report by Goldman Sachs says outright that curing diseases is incompatible with a sustainable business model. They point to Gilead Sciences which created a gene-based cure for hepatitis C. The cure is so effective that it is exceeding the transmission rate of the disease such that the number of people to sell the cure to has been decreasing. Therefore, revenue from marketing the cure is now decreasing.

Of course, for pure capitalists, this is an anathema.

What should be done to encourage a company seeking cures, because the forces of the market and market gurus (e.g., Goldman Sachs) encourages avoiding finding cures.

The government could offer a ‘soft landing’, something like granting 1/2 of the difference between a previous year’s earnings and last year’s reduced earnings for the life of the patent. Maybe the government could grant a perpetual patent rather than expiring patent for treatments that meet a definition of ‘cure’ (e.g., the Gilead Sciences treatment has a 90% cure rate).

More radically would be to remove pure capitalism from healthcare. Besides a properly socialized system such as every other western democracy has, the government can provide rewards for cure, exclusive sales licensing, guaranteed incomes for drug companies that develop such cures, etc.

But, as things sit, the incentives are weak for creating cures compared to the incentives for selling interminable treatments.

Facebook is Dead to Me

Yup, I’ve done it. I’ve deleted my Facebook account. It will take 14 more days for it to be finalized, but it’s done.

I went to this link to guide me:

I downloaded all my data (which wasn’t as much as I expected, but I’ve also not trolled through it much). It only took about 15 minutes for it to create the file and make it available to me. Took a bit longer to actually download it to my computer.

Then, the screenshots of the process after following the link on the above page:

FB Delete 1


FB Delete 2.jpeg

Finally this.

FB Delete 3

I didn’t get any screens that acted like my leaving would mean my friends would miss me. Maybe I bypassed it by the direct link I used from the how-to page on Fossbytes.

So, I’m about 14 days from Facebook no longer being part of my life….


Here’s the thing. I have a bunch of sites for which I’ve used Facebook as my login. I suspect that I’ll have to create new logins for those sites.

Oh well…

The Cambridge Analytica Scandal Explains Why Facebook Can’t Be Trusted

Vox, as usual, has a great explainer (click me!) on what happened in the Cambridge Analytica Scandal. One take-home message for me from this article is that Facebook can’t be trusted because they can’t know what other people will do with the data they obtain on or from Facebook.

It basically describes that someone created an app that several hundred thousand people played with on Facebook. The app gathered raw Facebook data on those people and all their Facebook friends which is what took it to over 50 million profiles, allegedly without notifying those who played with the apps that it would harvest from their friends, too. That appears to be against Facebook’s policies.

Furthermore, the sale of data gathered from other than the people who directly interacted with the app is against Facebook’s policies, also.

So, in a sense, Facebook is blameless? After all, it is alleged someone hacked their system and broke their rules.

For me, blameless or not, Facebook can’t be trusted with all it knows about us. The reason is that even with all the rules and protections in place that it cares to have, Facebook is unlikely to be able to detect many of these kinds of breaches and unlikely to be willing to do anything about those it detects. If my friend steals a candy bar and sells it to me, I’m unlikely to know it was stolen property and the store is unlikely to discover it was sold to another person. The only way I get connected to receiving stolen property is if the thief confesses or I mention I’ve got an unusual candy bar that I shouldn’t have. That’s what happened in the Cambridge Analytica situation, one of their worker bees let it be known that he was working with data he knew he shouldn’t have.

Without those kinds of confessions, such theft will happen without anyone knowing they have been victimized.

Furthermore, Facebook has little in the way of important and close motivators to protect data once out of their hands. Such app creators and advertisers are the real paying customers of Facebook. The money comes from them. Suing the hands that feed you is very very difficult to do. Cutting them off from access to data means cutting them off from the revenue stream. Also, lawsuits are public knowledge. Lawsuits about data mishandling are going to destroy more of the product that Facebook sells (the alleged billions of users). With every news story people choose to leave and others choose to never sign up. Competitors such as Mastodon gain a stronger beachhead with their open-source non-profit system.

So, because Facebook can’t know about data mishandling and there are few proximal motivators for Facebook to try to know, they can’t be trusted. Even if Facebook made all kinds of very nicely worded rules about how naughty app creators will be if they mishandle data, they can’t be trusted because there is literally zero reason to trust them.

I had already decided to walk away from Facebook a month ago and I feel better about it as each news cycle unwinds.


Facbook and Selling Data

Ah, Cambridge Analytica, the belly of this beast. At the very least, we know they were mining Facebook via “Free Personality Tests!” (bet you took one, didn’t you?), thereby learning useful things about you. Not the personality test, though if it was the Five Factor it probably helped. Nope, they wanted to know income, political leanings, things you most frequently posted about, stuff that suggested your greatest fears, anxieties, uncertainties, etc. Then, they would feed stuff to you to stoke those fears and make you think Donnie-boi would fix you up.

Cambridge Analytica even says they will supply sex workers and bribe officials to create fodder for use in blackmail and reputation destruction, according to UK’s Channel 4. They claim that their discussions of such matters were to discover if potential clients wanted to use such illicit methods. Of course, if that were the issue they could have simply asked the potential client if they wanted to use such methods directly. Example, “It’s possible, of course, to hire people who will offer bribes or send create sexual stings. Are you interested in such things being done?” Asking by acting like you have done it is just silly, watch the video. It’s towards the end. It’s worth it. Hoisted on their own stinging petard, eh?

The world is very messed up right now if these folks are creating our political landscape.

We need a national law, international law, that says that personally identifiable information cannot be sold to others, nor passed on through subsidiaries. If Facebook wants to use it, fine. But, Facebook can’t let others know anything about you nor use their ability to know stuff about you to tailor content to you. Oh, wait, does that mean their business model would get undercut. Yep. Facebook may have to get used to only making money on selling aggregated data. Reduced profits, oh my!

Facebook, 2 Billion, For Realz?

Of course, this kind of post will come off as me dissing that which I once did. It’s like the reformed alcoholic or former religious adherent laying on the negativity to resolve the cognitive dissonance between new behavior and old behavior. That’s valid. I do have cognitive dissonance to resolve, that’s for sure.

Facebook is alleged to have 2 billion persons. Besides the many people who have two accounts there (I did for a few weeks), there are many accounts that represent no living or formerly living person.

Facebook, and their ilk, create a kind of currency that is then exploited to manipulate our feelings about things. And, not just Facebook, but Amazon, comment sections of news sites, and so forth. The exploitation comes through creation of fake accounts, taking only a few minutes each, which then are sold to click farms and the like that use these fake personas to make it appear that a new product is awesome/horrible, an idea is brilliant/destructive, etc.

The Russians didn’t invent subverting social media to influence opinion, they just took it to its natural next step: influence an election. They’ve been doing it for years in smaller countries of the Baltic, maybe elsewhere. They’ve learned defensive measures. Practice makes perfect and they went for the big fish, the USA.

It starts here, probably not for Russians, but for the folks who use these methods for comparatively mundane purposes. A ‘onlining’ farm in Cebu City, Philippines, young women make money to go to college hoping to build a life that resembles the lives they create at the rate of one every 3 minutes.