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Cyber Safety and Security In An Era Of Constant Social Media Surveillance

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Our generation is the first to have grown up with social media technology. Many individuals are accustomed to sharing everything about their days – from photos of food and family members to political opinions – on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr. All this data adds up over time, and the accumulated information allows both government and corporate entities to construct a highly detailed picture of what makes you, you.

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Unless you’re completely removed from the grid (and for those reading this article, the chances of that are slim), your life is an open book in this brave new world of total information. While a large portion of this data is public record, people also voluntarily post vast amounts of data about themselves to the Internet under the presumption that it will remain within their circle of ‘friends’ or followers.

However, according to Taha Yasseri, an Iranian computer scientist at the Oxford Internet Institute, social media is the perfect tool to monitor today’s societies. “The transparency and easy use of social media has made it a very good tool for social activists. But this makes it a very good opportunity for authoritarian states to monitor, and eventually even to predict behavior.” Corporations target Internet users to market goods and services more productively, while governments tune in to look for evidence of suspicious illegal activity. Some people may feel comfortable being monitored in this way, but for many, these actions go beyond courteous boundaries and begin to overstep the broader social contract.

The Long Arm of the Law

Local police departments track known criminals’ activities. One of the first to do so was the Cincinnati, Ohio, Police Department. They were able to stop a massive gang-related brawl following comments on social media about the location of the event and identifying key players. Many police departments are using real-time, location-based social listening software, like Snaptrends, so that they can more effectively monitor what is happening in communities across the U.S.  

Of course, the federal government also has interests in social media activity. The FBI has sought to buy the Geofeedia social media monitoring platform which lets them hone in on goings on in certain geographical locations. This platform also allows the FBI to insert comments into those feeds when they think it is useful. This document, from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance, further shows how the government contextualizes the use of social media tools in regards to mapping relationships, locating subjects, and proving or disproving alibis.

As some may already know, the Department of Homeland Security regularly monitors all conversations on social media for a list of keywords that they feel that terrorists may use. Recent activities have gone far beyond capturing terrorists, however, to watching the Black Lives Matter movement, a breast cancer fundraising walk, and the National Moment of Silence.

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How Corporations Capture Data

As the number of digital devices connected to the “Internet of Things” continues to increase at an ever-expanding rate, the cloud is providing a mind-boggling array of opportunities for businesses to gain new competitive advantages. As information is harvested from our digital lives, it is utilized to reveal important correlations that then translate into a more efficient use of advertising dollars.

Inside ‘Big Data’ is a collection of tools and techniques that make it possible to examine data at any scale. The rise of ‘smart home’ security systems and sophisticated sensor technologies have created a microcosmic example of this phenomenon, in which your home preferences are directly used to enhance your comfort via the data collected on your daily comings and goings. The embedded intelligent database in these systems is capable of empowering real-time analytics to delegate real-world results.

Even with data coming from billions of connected devices, an enterprise-grade database at the corporate level can infer meaningful results. A popular program that many corporations use to monitor what people are saying about their products is Brandwatch, which helps corporations keep tabs on over 800 different Internet sites for mentions of their business. While some consumers are receptive to the thought of businesses offering personalized discounts, more than 75 percent are uncomfortable with the thought of them analyzing their social media posts to make recommendations based on “likes” or visual uploads like photos or video.  

Chart Your Data Destiny

There are several steps that you can take to control who has access to what you post on the Internet. Start by creating a strong password and changing it often. If you have a school or work email address, avoid using those to sign up on social media, as they may appear on other pages and make it easier for someone to hack your account. Take control over your accounts to the best of your ability by monitoring what others are allowed to see. Install and keep antivirus and security software up to date on all your devices to protect them from malicious attacks which may make your information more vulnerable. 

But even with all technological precautions in place, you still need to manage your online risks. Consider who you connect with carefully, as their unsavory online behaviors could implicate you as well. Also, keep in mind that the HR departments of companies are very interested in what you’re posting too. If your friend was just fired, then you might want to avoid their social media sites because your employer may want to see who else might have been involved in an incident or just to learn who they may want to observe carefully at work. Keep in mind that you must not share corporate intellectual property online. Likewise, never assume that what you post online will not be read by your employer. Remember that whatever goes online is now out of your hands and therefore out of your control. Even in today’s digital world, it’s smart to keep some semblance of an analog persona intact. 

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Tulsi Gabbard Just Called Hillary Clinton The “Embodiment Of Corruption” And Much More

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Hillary Clinton just referred to Tulsi Gabbard as a Russian asset in an interview. Tulsi comes back at her on Twitter, exposing the true face of Clinton.

  • Reflect On:

    Is it not important we have more public conversations about the true nature of the politicians we vote for?

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has recently suggested that she thinks Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, is being “groomed” by Russia to run as a third-party candidate in 2020. Of course, she supplied no evidence of this, but using “Russia” in any sentence in the US is a sure-fire way of striking fear in people about someone.

In an interview with David Plouff, Obama’s former campaign manager, Clinton said:

“They’re also going to do third-party again, “I’m not making any predictions, but I think they’ve got their eye on someone who’s currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate. She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Again, step out of part politics for a second, are we really going to pretend this is about parties and not the global elite being upset at someone who’s ruining their show? Think about it, Clinton used Facebook, Google, YouTube and almost every media outlet in the US to manipulate the public into thinking she was a viable candidate. Trump was keen to use social media, and played the role of causing drama, but at least he was transparent about it. Clinton on the other hand, is precisely what Gabbard stated about her in a follow-up Tweet to Clinton’s remarks.

When it comes to the US’ involvement in war, which Gabbard has been rightly critical about, she has also said that Trump “has the blood of the Kurds on his hands” but explained that she holds both parties responsible for supporting what she described as a “regime-change war.” Accurately seeing that this is not about parties but about deep state agendas.

The Takeaway

As we often say in step 1 of The CE Protocol, we have to break the illusion of the world around us. Events like this indicate that there is a greater desire for people to speak up and expose what many people have known for a long time but has never received the attention it deserves. Gabbard in this case is helping the American public see more clearly the true nature of some of the politicians at play and the actions they take.

When we learn to see these actions more clearly we can call into question whether or not our voting processes or systems are truly representative of what people want or whether they are just there to tell a story to the people – one that isn’t true – so money and power can be made and maintained at the elite level.

Needing to have open and public conversations about this type of stuff, moving beyond the mainstream media created celebrity status of various candidates, is important so that people can begin to see the truth – see the person behind the mask. This is partly what people see with Trump, the truth of what politicians look like, act like and where their agendas lie. It’s all laid bare. Whether or not you agree or disagree with it is up to you to decide, because at least now it can be seen clearly. Especially if you avoid mainstream media’s coverage of it.

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This is Not A Movie, It’s October 1st, 2019 In Hong Kong

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    Protests in Hong Kong rose to many tense moments over the past few months. This video footage shows clashes between riot police and protesters on Kowloon’s Nathan Road.

  • Reflect On:

    Have people reached a breaking point when it comes to how often they are not heard by governments?

In the video below, what looks like a Hollywood movie is the reality just a couple of weeks ago in Hong Kong. Riot police and protesters have been clashing for months as the streets become filled with hundreds of tear gas canisters and Molotov cocktails. Having covered the G20 summit in Toronto, these scenes appear much more tense than what I saw during those protests, and even those were filled with vandalism, pepper spray, burning cars and rubber bullets.

We’ve covered the Hong Kong protests a couple of times here on CE, including a full segment on CETV here.

There are obviously two perspectives as to what is going on, the Mainland China perspective and that of the Hong Kong protesters who feel Mainland China is acting wrongly. From the perspective of Mainland China, the protests in Hong Kong are fundamentally the result of Western interference and attempts at a ‘soft recolonization’ of Hong Kong. Their arguments have some merit.

From the Hongkongers perspective,  tensions rose after the introduction of an extradition bill that threatened residents’ freedoms. Protesters are demanding Hong Kong’s chief executive Carrie Lam resigns. They are also calling for:

  • The complete withdrawal of the proposed extradition bill
  • The government to withdraw the use of the word “riot” in relation to protests
  • The unconditional release of arrested protesters and charges against them dropped
  • An independent inquiry into police behaviour
  • Implementation of genuine universal suffrage

As with many things people are feeling at the moment, big government has been overreaching for quite some time, and freedoms continue to be cut while quality of life in our fast-paced modern society diminishes. What we must remember when viewing these issues is we can’t singularly look at each one and determine whether it’s right or wrong so easily. People are exposed to ‘hits’ from every direction to their wallets, freedom, health, lifestyle and psyche and our world is reflecting the feeling that ‘enough is enough.’

Since much of the time we aren’t sure what else to do, people fight back, they do what they think will lead them to being heard and having a solution brought forth. is this the best way forward? Perhaps not, but when it becomes clear to people that their governments and the voting process do not work in their benefit nor favor, this is sometimes what they revert to.

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Video credit: Tom Grundy/HKFP

More at http://www.hongkongfp.com – Hong Kong’s only not-for-profit, independent English-language news source.

H/T: Twisted Sifter

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CNN’s Political Bias Exposed By Whistleblower’s Hidden Camera Footage

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    CNN Technician Cary Poarch went around CNN with a hidden video camera for months in order to provide the public with evidence that CNN is not at all practicing objective journalism.

  • Reflect On:

    What kind of media do you support? Do we get the truth when we have politically motivated media? Is it time for an evolution in media?

At CE we have long talked about political bias in mainstream media, and it has become even more prevalent since an already polarizing figure named Donald Trump took office. This isn’t about whether you support Trump or not, it’s about seeing the patterns at play. But to date, CNN and other mainstream networks have still tried to maintain the veneer of objectivity and independence in their journalism. New information coming out from Project Veritas is set to remove the last vestiges of this fantasy.

Based on footage from a hidden camera used over the course of months by a CNN technician, it was revealed that the pro-Liberal, anti-Trump bias that proliferated in the network seemed ‘unbecoming of a news organization’ to many people who worked there. But it took one brave man, Cary Poarch, to be willing to risk his career to expose it with hard evidence.

In our latest episode of The Collective Evolution Show on CETV, Joe Martino and I discuss the implications of Poarch’s revealing footage that will help paint a picture of an organization that is as partisan as it could get from the top down, where President Jeff Zucker clearly promotes a biased political agenda and expects the employees under him and the content they produce to fall in lock-step with that agenda. Of course, it’s not just CNN that operates this way, this can be seen across all mainstream left and right media.

Where is the Objectivity?

This is what mainstream media has become, a tool of political partisanship, not only in what they broadcast to the public but even within the organization. At CNN Poarch has observed a ‘groupthink’ Anti-Trump mentality, and this type of bias ultimately leads to mainstream outlets devolving into echo chambers because, as Poarch puts it, there is no tolerance for dissenting or even neutral views:

“It’s an Unwritten Rule That if You Are Center, Center Right, or Heaven Forbid, Full Right Republican Trump Supporter, Then You Are Not Welcome at CNN.”

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Ultimately, since this echo chamber known as the Cable News Network remains one of the prominent proliferators of information in our society, we can see how they have contributed to the large schisms of left/right polarity within our society, in which people with opposing views will only know one side of the story, since it would be impossible for them to endure the extreme bias of whichever network offered views that were opposed to theirs.

And this is by design—to limit the critical thinking process and hide the injustice that is inherent in our system of governance, by having people continue to endlessly fight only between the left and right extremities. The fabric of the country is getting ripped apart when people are goaded into hating the other side simply because the media told them to hate. How are people supposed have productive and civil discussions, and ultimately make educated, informed decisions? Isn’t that what the media is supposed to assist us with?

Is it for Ratings?

There has long been an argument that media puts out stories based on the ratings war, or as in the old days based on how many newspapers they will sell. But it seems we’ve gone beyond that point in terms of bias. It seems as though ‘ratings’ is an argument that top executives make to actually try to hide their bias.

Networks now simply concentrate on retaining viewers with a political bias, and don’t even try to reel back in a growing number of people who are seeing through the ruse and are looking for objectivity in media broadcasts. After all, mainstream media is owned by large conglomerates who use the media not so much to make advertising dollars, but much more lucratively to try to shape public opinion and public perception to serve their ultimate agendas.

In the case of CNN, much of it is coming from the man at the top of the pyramid: president Jeff Zucker. In the video, CNN Media Coordinator Nick Neville lays out Zucker’s undue influence in no uncertain terms:

Like, there are a lot of people who are out here trying to play like, just do what they think is the best journalistic integrity. Then you get on the 9am call and the big boss, Jeff Zucker, f**king tells what to do.”

And it’s like, you have to, like…to a certain extent, you have to follow his verdict.”

The Takeaway

We are in a time when the need for objective journalism is more critical than ever. This testimony from whistleblower Cary Poarch is all the more reason for us to stop looking at mainstream media for the facts and a neutral perspective. You can support CE’s efforts to bring that neutral perspective in our journalism and broadcasts by becoming a member of our censorship-free video platform, CETV.

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