Oh, shut up, Trumps

Lara and Eric Trump didn’t do a single damn thing about social media censorship when Milo and I were being kicked off Twitter back in 2015. They paid no attention when people and businesses were systematically deplatformed from Paypal, Patreon, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, and pretty much every other Big Tech platform for the entirety of President Trump’s first term from 2016 through 2020.

But now that it is affecting them, it’s suddenly 1984 in 2021!

Facebook tonight removed an interview Lara Trump conducted with President Trump on The Right View. “We removed content from Lara Trump’s Facebook page that featured President Trump speaking,” the message from Facebook stated. “In line with the block we placed on Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, further content posted in the voice of Donald Trump will be removed and result in additional limitations on the accounts.”

Lara Trump posted the message on her Instagram page. It was also shared on Twitter by her husband, Eric.

A second message from the social media platform stressed that “content posted on Facebook and Instagram in the voice of President Trump is not currently allowed. The guidance applies to all campaign accounts and pages, including Team Trump, other campaign messaging vehicles on our platforms and former surrogates,” Facebook wrote.

The Trumps were stunned by the blatant censorship.

“We are one step closer to Orwell’s 1984,” Lara wrote on Instagram.

“What an absolute slap in the face to 75 million Americans,” Eric wrote on Twitter.

I think I speak for every American who has been deplatformed over the last six years when I say: “shut the fuck up, Lara and Eric. Now you’re stunned? If you notice or give a fraction of a damn about anyone else being censored, why the Hell do you think 75 million Americans care about yours?” 

This should be a warning for those of you who are “sympathetic” and “on our side” but refuse to get involved in the conflict for one reason or another. If you weren’t there for us, don’t expect us to be there for you when they come for you. And they will come for you, sooner or later.

Personally, I consider the failure of President Trump – who I will remind you is nevertheless the greatest US President of the last 184 years – to address the thought policing of Americans to be his greatest failure in office, because unlike many of the other challenges he faced, it was such an easy one to address and successfully resolve in a short period of time.

UPDATE: It’s a good thing Lara Trump complained about it on Instagram. That clearly accomplished… so much:

As big tech companies continue their bid to cancel the ex-commander-in-chief, audio from the podcast “The Right View With Lara Trump,” was yanked from Facebook Tuesday night and reportedly later removed by Instagram.

President Greenscreen

Actually, forget green screens. I’ve seen Skyrim mods with more realistic 3D animations than these recent Biden videos. This doesn’t looks like deepfaked video to me, it looks more like a 3D animated model with video genlock. At this point, if you still unironically believe Joe Biden is the President of the United States, you’re simply not paying attention.

Gab is hacked and down

It appears that the security breach reported last week by Wired was genuine, as Gab is currently down as a consequence of the hack:

The social media site Gab blamed “oligarch tyrants” who keep the US “under occupation” for being forced offline, after they refused to pay a ransom in Bitcoin to a hacker who had pilfered gigabytes of user data through an exploit.

“We took the site down to investigate a security breach,” Gab announced on Monday afternoon via their Twitter account. Users trying to log into Gab were greeted with an “internal error” message and told to try again. 

“Banks are banning us. Hackers are attacking us. Journalists are libeling us. Why?” Gab tweeted, calling the US “a totally subverted nation under the occupation of a handful of oligarch tyrants who use their power to destroy dissenters.”

Gab went offline after several verified accounts on the social media platform displayed a ransom note signed “cApTaIn JaXpArO,” claiming the credit for the hack and accusing CEO Andrew Torba of lying to his “despicable users” and not caring about their privacy.

The hacker, whose name is a reference to Captain Jack Sparrow of Disney’s ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ franchise, claimed that last week’s hack “fully compromised” Gab, including 35 million public and three million private posts, 50,000 emails, 7,000 passwords. 

More importantly, they claimed to have obtained 831 verification documents – “which the ransom was about” – but Gab refused to pay 8 Bitcoin for them.

Unfortunately, Torba is still trying to convince Republican politicians to help him rather than taking the necessary steps to relocate outside of a US system that has repeatedly demonstrated that it is actively opposed to his operation.

Gab is an American business run by law-abiding American citizens that can’t get a business checking account, can’t process credit and debit cards online, and can’t access basic online services run by tech monopolies. Where are our leaders? Where is the GOP?

What part of “bifactional ruling party” does he still not understand? 

This is why it’s necessary to break free of the cult of free, and to wisely utilize whatever resources can be mustered. In not-at-all-unrelated news, UATV is about to pass the 2,000-video mark and SG is averaging nearly 80k posts per month. If you’re not subscribing yet, this is the right time to do so.


Retreat means more retreat

One of these days, Gab is going to have to seriously consider testing whether these banks actually have the legal right to politically discriminate against them. Because running from one converged bank to the next doesn’t appear to be working very well.

Last month, Gab CEO Andrew Torba revealed that the New Tech site had been banned from three different banks in the space of three weeks. On Friday in a statement posted online, Torba confirmed that yet another bank had banned the site from its services. “It’s getting to the point where we are seriously considering buying our own bank,” Torba said. “Funny how this started happening right when Biden got into office,” he added.  Two of the four banks were identified as NBT Bank, which mostly operates in the northeast of the country, and City National Bank of Florida.

Another option is foreign banks and foreign payment processing systems, both of which are usually more than happy to establish footholds in the US market. For example, the new Chinese peer-to-peer direct pay system not only avoids the converged banks, but the US dollar as well. If they’re going to kick you out of the system, then you shouldn’t hesitate to utilize the existing alternatives to that system, even those that threaten the system.

Anyhow, all this is going to accomplish is to speed up the development timeline of the peer-to-peer payment alternatives. If it’s happening to Gab today, it will happen to everyone who votes, speaks, or thinks against the imperial establishment tomorrow.

There is a simple solution

It’s time for people to start holding the corpocracy responsible for its incessant attempts to strip all privacy from everyone:

Microsoft has teamed up with a number of tech and media companies to create a system of tracing content around the internet that could destroy online privacy and anonymity, radically transforming the nature of the web.

Against stiff competition, the alliance of tech and media giants has devised a plan that may constitute Big Tech’s most brazen power-grab yet.

According to Microsoft’s press release, it has partnered with several other organizations to form the Coalition for Content Provenance and Authenticity (C2PA).

Put simply, the purpose of this organization is to devise a system whereby all content on the internet can be traced back to its author.

The press release states that it will develop these specifications for “common asset types and formats,” meaning videos, documents, audio, and images.

Whether it’s a meme, an audio remix, or a written article, the goal is to ensure that when content reaches the internet, it will come attached with a set of signals allowing its provenance — meaning authorship — can be detected.

Consider the companies that have signed on to this initiative. Leading the pack is Microsoft, which operates Word, Paint, Notepad, Edge, and the Office Suite. If you create a .doc or a .jpg, a Microsoft service is probably involved in some capacity. Then there’s Adobe, the company behind Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, and Premiere Pro, as well as several other market-leading applications for publishing photos, videos, and documents. There’s also Truepic, a company that has developed technology to track the provenance of photos from the very moment they are captured on a smartphone.

Finally, there’s Intel, which dominates the market in laptop and desktop central processing units (CPUs). The CPU is responsible for processing virtually all information on computers. Whether you’re typing a sentence or taking a screenshot, it’s the CPU that is processing that data. Accessing the CPU is the ultimate form of digital surveillance. Even if you’re disconnected from the internet, the CPU still sees what your computer is doing.

The combination of these forces creates the potential to track and de-anonymize information from the moment it is created on a computer. Signals could be attached to information to ensure it is censored and suppressed wherever it travels online. Even if someone else is sharing the information, it could be suppressed simply because of its point of origin. And, of course, the signals could be used to identify the creators of dissident content.

It would also be useful to pass laws requiring artificial persons to be subject to the same responsibilities and penalties as natural persons, considering that they have many of the same rights. If a person who commits a crime that requires jail time cannot earn an income, why are corporations permitted to continue earning revenue if they are guilty of similar felonies and misdemeanors? 

Social media hacks

This is just one of the many reasons SocialGalactic has a Clean Speech policy. Because if it’s on the Internet, you have to assume it will be made public sooner or later:

The Gab accounts of Donald Trump and Gab’s own CEO are among those “compromised” by a hack of the microblogging service popular among US conservatives and right-wingers. The data is being offered to researchers and journalists.

A 70-gigabyte trove of data dubbed “Gableaks” includes public posts on the platform, but also “private posts, user profiles, hashed passwords for users, DMs, and plaintext passwords for groups,”according to an entity called DDoSecrets. The information was allegedly stolen by a third party and leaked to the group, which operates similarly to WikiLeaks. The leak was described in detail by Wired, which was given access to a sample of the dataset.

Gab is a competitor of Twitter that caters to users who feel their freedom of speech is being unduly restricted by Big Tech. Critics call it a hotbed of far-right extremism that is flourishing thanks to the company policies encouraging user anonymity and a lack of content moderation.

Like it’s better-known counterpart Parler, Gab saw an influx of new users after Silicon Valley launched a crackdown on undesirable voices in the wake of the January 6 riot at the Capitol. When Parler was effectively deplatformed shortly afterwards, some of its users went to Gab.

The Gableaks trove “contains pretty much everything on Gab, including user data and private posts, everything someone needs to run a nearly complete analysis on Gab users and content,” DDoSecrets cofounder Emma Best told the tech news website. “It’s another gold mine of research for people looking at militias, neo-Nazis, the far right, QAnon and everything surrounding January 6.”

According to Wired, the data in DDoSecrets’ possession was obtained through a technique called “SQL injection,” which tricks a website into executing malicious code sent as user input. In a Friday statement, Gab said it was “aware of a vulnerability in this area and patched it last week.” DDoSecrets says the hacking was done by “JaXpArO (they/them) & My Little Anonymous Revival Project.”

There isn’t any point in complaining about the media utilizing black hat hackers. They are, by their own admission, the enemy, and as such they are going to engage in enemy action. And all the so-called privacy policies will be denied and deemed to be irrelevant by the companies no matter what they say; if there is one thing we have learned from the Bears’ battle with Patreon, it is that the tech companies will assert, at every single point, that their behavior is not restricted in any way by their own contracts no matter what those contracts clearly say.

The only thing that actually restricts them is the intersection of those contracts with the law, to the extent that judges and arbitrators are actually willing to apply the latter. And that is very, very far from a sure thing.

The answer is very simple. Never post or comment anything that you would be hesitant to state in a courtroom before a judge under oath. And if the post or comment could cost you your job if it comes to light, then keep it to yourself. You simply cannot reasonably expect privacy in the Global Panopticon.

Google locking down Chromium

It looks as if Google is attempting to expand its domination of the browser market:

At this moment, Google Chrome is responsible for over 60{3549d4179a0cbfd35266a886b325f66920645bb4445f165578a9e086cbc22d08} of browser usage. (The exact number differs based on what graph you look at.) If you look at the numbers, Chromium-based browsers like Edge, Brave, Opera, and Vivaldi are starting to eat into Chrome’s number. Take Microsoft Edge for example. The first preview builds were released in April of 2020. By October of that year, it had reached 10{3549d4179a0cbfd35266a886b325f66920645bb4445f165578a9e086cbc22d08} market share and pushed Firefox to number 3. (Part of that market share, undoubtedly was caused by Microsoft pushing an update to replace Internet Explorer 11 and Edge Legacy with the new Chromium-based version.) If we learned one thing through the years, it’s that Google likes to dominate.

While it’s true that most of Google’s browser competitors use their own servers to store user bookmarks and passwords, they still use the same extensions as Chrome. For many people, it’s important to have access to certain extensions for work or fun. To borrow a familiar metaphor, the browser is the platform and the extensions are the applications that the user needs or wants to use.

What would happen to these Chromium-based browsers if Google blocked their access to the Google Chrome Store? Without access to their familiar tools, would they stay with Brave or Edge? I think many would switch back to Chrome because people tend to choose the path of least resistance.

The inherent problem with creating a new browser/platform is getting people to create addons/extensions for it. Case in point: before Microsoft switched to Chromium, it only had a few add-ons available. The majority of browser extensions are created by people as a hobby and maintaining two or more codebases seems more like a job than a hobby. The bottom line is that people would be less likely to create extensions, thus reducing the usability of the browser and leading to a loss of market share.

If you don’t think Google could do this, think again. Google has an iron grip on the Chromium project. As Steven Vaughan-Nichols points out “whatever Google wants to do with Chromium, Google can do it and it doesn’t matter what anyone else wants. This is not how open source is supposed to work. I think it’s time for all those Chromium developers out there to have a serious talk with Google. The vast majority of open-source projects don’t have a single company calling all the shots. Why should Chromium?”

Google Only Supports Open Source when It Benefits Them

Keep in mind that Google has a history of using open source to gain market share and then abandoning it. Android is the biggest example. From the beginning of its time with Google, Android was touted as THE open-source phone operating system. The Android Open Source Project was used by several projects to create their own version of Android. This helped make Android popular.

Then at a certain point, Google introduced an app called Google Play Services. This app is not open source and contains all of the stuff you need to access Google’s services. I’m sure that there is a workaround, but most people don’t want the added responsibility of tinkering with their phone to get it to work. (There is a minority who enjoys doing that and you know who you are.)

Another example is the Metastream saga. Back in 2019, a guy named Samuel Maddock created a side project named Metastream. It was going to be an Electron-based browser that would allow users across the web to watch videos at the same time. The videos would be synced up so that the users would enjoy the experience together. The only problem was that Samuel needed access to a DRM provider so that his users could watch videos on services like Netflix or Hulu.

For Electron/Chromium-based browsers, there is only one option Google Widevine. So, Samuel attempted to get a license for Widevine. Four months later, he got a response stating that “I’m sorry but we’re not supporting an open source solution like this”. In a follow up post, Samual listed other projects that ran into issues with Widevine and were left in the cold by Google. He also quoted Brian Bondy, Co-founder and CTO of Brave, who said, “This is a prime example for why free as in beer is not enough. Small share browsers are at the mercy of Google, and Google is stalling us for no communicated-to-us reason.”

Thought-policing the nations

Facebook arrogates a nonexistent authority unto itself:

Facebook announced in a blog post on Thursday that it has removed Instagram and Facebook accounts used by Myanmar’s military to communicate with the public in the wake of a coup by the armed forces in the Asian nation.

The social media company said it was left with no choice but to ban the accounts following the “deadly violence” in the country after the coup, believing that it was too risky to allow the Myanmar military, known as the Tatmadaw, to remain on its platforms.

Facebook will also remove and prevent all Tatmadaw-linked commercial entities from advertising on its platforms.

The tech company had previously removed 20 military-linked individuals – including Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing – and organizations from the site in 2019 over “severe human rights violations,” and taken down six “Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior networks” run by the Tatmadaw in the last two years.

Given its recent conflict with Australia and Canada, I don’t think it will be too terribly long before some nation’s military demonstrates to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook the difference between power and influence. Of course, it’s understandable why Facebook would believe otherwise given how easy it has been for them to buy off politicians in order to avoid legal consequences:

Australian lawmakers have passed a law that forces tech giants like Facebook and Google fork out money for the media content. Critics argue the bill was watered down after Facebook imposed a week-long ban on Australian news. The much-anticipated bill, which is widely expected to serve as a precedent other nations such as Canada might soon follow, seemingly puts an end to the heated row between Facebook and the Australian government that forced last-minute changes to the bill. The changes provided the tech firms with extra time to thrash out the deals with publishers to avoid being subjected to the new rules. The tech companies can potentially skirt the new media bargaining code if they make “significant financial contributions to the sustainability of the Australian news industry.”

I have to admit, I imagined that living in William Gibson’s Sprawl future where global corporations act like nations would be an awful lot cooler than it is.

Solving the F35 problem

Will no longer be answered by the F35:

The U.S. Air Force’s top officer wants the service to develop an affordable, lightweight fighter to replace hundreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and complement a small fleet of sophisticated—but costly and unreliable—stealth fighters.

The result would be a high-low mix of expensive “fifth-generation” F-22s and F-35s and inexpensive “fifth-generation-minus” jets, explained Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown Jr.

If that plan sounds familiar, it’s because the Air Force a generation ago launched development of an affordable, lightweight fighter to replace hundreds of Cold War-vintage F-16s and complement a small future fleet of sophisticated—but costly and unreliable—stealth fighters.

But over 20 years of R&D, that lightweight replacement fighter got heavier and more expensive as the Air Force and lead contractor Lockheed Martin packed it with more and more new technology.

Yes, we’re talking about the F-35. The 25-ton stealth warplane has become the very problem it was supposed to solve. And now America needs a new fighter to solve that F-35 problem, officials said.

Yes, Virginia, the USA is most certainly losing this unrestricted and undeclared war. To be honest, they’d be much better off simply switching to a drone-based air doctrine.

And how is that a bad thing, exactly?

U.S. States are beginning to follow the lead of foreign governments like Australia in breaking the power of Big Tech:

Last month, a lobbyist approached Kyle Davison, a North Dakota state senator, with an unusual proposal: a law to stop Apple and Google from forcing companies in the state to hand over a share of their app sales.

Mr. Davison, a Republican, was focused on bills related to a $200,000 literacy program and birth records for the homeless. But he was intrigued by the lobbyist’s arguments that the tech giants were hurting small businesses, and he thought such a law could attract tech companies to North Dakota. So he introduced it.

“She said to me that this could be big. But to me, that means the local newspaper is going to come with a camera,” Mr. Davison, 60, said. “I would not be truthful if I said I expected the reaction.”

At the Capitol in Bismarck, a 21-story Art Deco tower that’s the state’s tallest building, a hearing on the bill last week drew Washington lawyers, North Dakota newspapers and Silicon Valley executives. Siding with Apple and Google was Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group funded by the Koch family. On the other side was the Fargo Chamber of Commerce. One person called in from Alaska.

Supporters of the bill said it would help smaller companies and only hurt Apple and Google’s revenues. Apple’s chief privacy engineer, Erik Neuenschwander, testified that the bill “threatens to destroy iPhone as you know it.”

Siding with Apple and Google was the conservative group funded by the Koch family. And you wonder why conservatives always lose? They literally side with their enemies. 

And destroying iPhone as we know it is a feature, not a bug.