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Monday, May 20, 2019

Fake Everything

Silverfiddle Rant!

Robocalls are a menace, and Caller ID spoofing is a sinister twist on this black art.  Remember the National No Call List?  It's a joke, brought to you by the same government apparatchiks who claim they can solve climate change if we just give them enough money.

Paul Starr rants about robocalls in his American Prospect article, The Robocall Deluge Is a Case of Government Failure.

And it's not just robocalls...
The robocall deluge is just one manifestation of a phenomenon I call “media degradation.” It goes along with spam email, spam text messages, fake news, deepfake videos, and much else.

Add to this a total loss of on-line privacy and "harmful content" in social media.  Mark Zuckerberg joins Paul Starr in calling for more government intervention.

I share their concerns, but not their calls for more Big Government.

Here's how I rank their concerns, #1 being the biggest:

1. On-line Privacy.  Government needs to pass a law. Now.  Stating no one may sell, buy, share or otherwise traffic my personal information without my explicit written consent.

2. On-Line Free Speech.  I want government to bust the on-line trusts.  Global corporations own the digital public square, so social media must be converted into a public utility that guarantees access for all who do not break the law. The Twitter Stasi banned the pro-life movie Unplanned's twitter account, un-banned it, and then erased all its followers.  King Twit Jack Dorsey needs to be dragged from his imperial palace by his hipster beard and publicly caned for all of the censorship he has engaged in.

3. Fake News. I do not want government intervening.  The situation is bad enough as it is.  The Infotainment News Media is going to have to police itself and clean up its act if it wants to up its approval rating, which is now lower than President Trump's.

4. Deepfake Videos. This is a biggie given how reliant as we are on video evidence and the unreflective credulity we invest in it. It's bad enough what the porn stuff can do to a person's reputation.  Think about deepfakes of "leaked conversations, etc" of world leaders, or deepfaked atrocities designed to propagandize us into one more rage mob or worse, another war.  What consoles me is the empirical fact that technology solutions solve technology problems.  Context, forensic examination, non-video corroborating evidence or lack thereof, etc will snuff most deepfakes, if the resulting hysteria doesn't get out of control first.

5.  Robocalls, Caller ID Spoofing, Spam E-Mails, Spam Texts.  These annoy me, but I don't see the need for government intervention, although I would like to see the tech industry try harder at deploying customizable apps to help us snuff this didgicrap.

6. On-line Trollery.  The Hill is rife with spam comments and obvious trolls, some flying false flags just to provoke. I would like to see some heuristic technology developed to eradicate such infestations.

7.  "Harmful Content" in social media.  If it doesn't break the law, Stop. Banning. It. I support some common sense community standards, but the Silicon Valley Archipelago has gone way overboard.  Turn them all into public utilities and regulate them as such.

What say you?


  1. I resent not being able to post links to my blog on FB.
    A couple other bloggers are in the same boat.
    It seems someone complained to FB about me and there is no recourse.
    They are a non-governmental concern. They are not a monopoly.
    There is talk that they are a publisher and thus responsible for what they publish. If so, I understand. I have had to edit a columnist in my paper because of what I perceive as community standards.
    If they are a platform (are there tax concerns here?), not responsible for content, then they should let it all fly.
    Either way, they should have an ombudsman and transparency.
    But they don't.
    So I will continue to use them to see family pix and communicate with fellow conservatives (and Lonestar Boat Owners) until something better comes along.
    MySpace failed for a reason.

  2. Ed,
    You can't post links to my blog on FB?

    When did that happen?

    I've never really cross-posted to FB from my blog, but I remember doing so a few times quite a while ago.

    1. both greybeard and I were prohibited from posting links to our blogs starting about 2 months ago.
      And all previous links that I had successfully posted are now broken.

    2. Anyone who reads my blog or at least a 90 or so people who do, knows what vile despicable post I put up.

    3. Ed,
      Could you give us a link to that vile despicable post?

  3. SF,
    About 5. Robocalls, Caller ID Spoofing, Spam E-Mails, Spam Texts....

    I think that the government should do something because my inboxes are occasionally stuffed to capacity, thereby forbidding real people to leave a message.

    I spend at least one hour every day deleting the records of incoming calls on my landlines and on my mobile phone.

    And I'm beyond weary of trying to talk to the disembodied voices of robocalls.

  4. "The Infotainment News Media is going to have to police itself..."

    Odd, you are normally pretty rational, even logical. Rarely do you take side trips such as this one into fantasyland.

    1. Do you really want the federal government to step in and tell us what's "fake" and what's "legitimate" news? Really? Do you agree with what Obama hinted at, that government should "curate" the news?

    2. I'm not suggesting the government should do it. I'm just commenting on the liklihood of the media "policing itself." That's much like asking Congress to "reform itself" and stop taking bribes. It would be lovely if they did that, but it's not going to happen.

  5. Silver... I'm confused. First you decry the government apparachuks when they try to do something, via the Do Not Call List, that did work for awhile until business figured out a way around it.

    Then regarding on line privacy, on line free speech and "harmful content" you advocate for their involvement.

    Are you for, or against government action in these areas?

    1. I am not an anarchist. I am all for the government setting the rules and policing the marketplace. Regulation should be as light as possible while still getting the job done.

      The law can address some areas better than others.

      Prohibiting legitimate businesses, organizations and government entities from trafficking our personal information is pretty straightforward and enforceable under the law.

      The corporate-owned public squares shall not infringe on our rights of free speech. That is also straightforward and legal disagreements surrounding the issue can be adjudicated in a court of law.

      Still confused? I can't break it down any simpler than that.

  6. This is the White House Response

  7. I say news is all clickbait, ignore it all.

    Social media? Delete your accounts and never look back.

    1. PS, Never answer a call that isn't in your contact list or that you don't recognize the number.

    2. Kid has the right answer as usual.

      We have to learn to police ourselves, by learning from experiene how to DISCRIMINATE between true-false, good-evil, significant-trivial, constructive-destructive, etc. then act accordlngly.

      I have caller ID, and I've long made it a practice NEVER to answer calls from people I don't know. PERIOD!

      As for FACEBOOK: I wouldn't go near it with the proverbial TEN-FOOT POLE

  8. The internet should be shut down.

  9. Social media is unnecessary. Weve2lived quite successfully without it.....thus, in no way should it be converted into a public utility and regulated as such by the State. Don't like how SM companies operate?

    Don't use them.

    1. CI,
      I think that problem with ignoring social media is they have such political impact. Progressives have "weaponized" the SM to the point that I can't even begin to describe the impact thereof. Perhaps the best way to describe the impact is to think of gazettes, which had significant impact back in the ay.

      You know, blogs can also be considered social media, too. Just sayin'.

    2. Everything has been weaponized.
      Corporate Media, social media, government agencies (IRS, FBI, CIA, et al), church.

    3. Agree with CI ... the one positive thing about social media seems to be that no matter how bizarre your opinion, you'll always be able to find someone on social media who agrees with you. We have the capacity to ignore social media in the same way that we can ignore the speech we disagree with. It is dangerous to a free society to control speech in whatever form it takes.

  10. I make this very un-libertarian proposal because corporations own the digital public square. They can silence you, and if you create your own website, they can de-platform you, putting you back to mimeographing paper propaganda sheets.

    That is anti-liberty and un-American, and it is also very dangerous. corporations have the ability to silence not just people, but ideas and information they disagree with.

    Like it or not, the internet is crucial to getting your word out. Having that controlled by a narrow-minded and dictatorial oligopoly accountable to no one is unacceptable.

    My libertarianism ends where your ability and willingness to arbitrarialy censor begins.

    1. Point taken. What I wonder about, given the profit in something as simple as Twitter, is why a filthy rich conservative hasn't started a competitive social media platform founded on the principle of not silencing any point of view no matter how obnoxious it is. Isn't it better to fight the fight without having to rely on government to monitor our conversations? I've wondered why Trump (with all his money) hasn't taken this on.

    2. Mustang (and CI),

      I respect your point of view on this, but I stand by my comment above. Our rights do not come from government, but government is the guarantor of them, and when someone has been de facto and de jure silenced, it is legitimate to appeal to the government.

      This isn't asking government for some kind of carveout or special treatment; this is a petition for everyone's free speech to not be infringed.

    3. The 1st Amendment protects the Right of free speech from censorship by the State. Facebook censoring any of it's members is not a violation of that Right.

    4. CI, You make an obvious and pedantic point. When you consider social media plus Youtube represent almost the entirety of the public square, can you see where I'm coming from? Add in global corporations deciding who can and cannot even have their own on-line platform (website), and it is even more alarming.

      Silencing me is zero, but silencing a Jordan Peterson, or people arguing against immigration in Europe, and you can see how this not just tips the debate in favor of those who control the means of communication, it shuts the debate down.

    5. Calling my valid point pedantic is something I would expect from a Leftist, not a Conservative/Libertarian The point is factual and stands on its own merit. In fact, you haven't been silenced....you may not be able to ply your words on every platform you desire, but you never had a guarantee of getting your letter to the editor published either.

      I'm not certain what exactly your after [an ironic, online Fairness Doctrine?]....but you can also surely see the ramifications of the State pronouncing a convenience to be a necessity, with the requisite nationalisation/regulation that comes with it?

    6. No pejorative intended, but you made an obvious statement. Obviously, we are beyond that realm, and I am exploring an extreme of theoretical libertarian private property rights:

      If every last digital inch of the internet is owned by private corporations, de facto, nobody has free speech rights on the internet.

    7. I didn't take it as such, nor was my response intended likewise, just surprised to see it come from you, regarding a fundamental Constitutional question.

      I would however, be interested in what your solution would look like. I can't envision State regulation of the internet being anything resembling fair or free, in the end.

  11. I rank with your #1. Robocalls have zoomed way beyond annoyance for us. I used to just ignore them. But when you have dementia in the household you race to get every call first - another useless waste of energy I desperately don't need. I never know the outcome if I don't. And I've been accused of nefarious carryings on simply because an unwanted stranger called into a household filled with suspicion and agitation. It is a tremendous energy suck out.

    No to public trusts of online social media. I agree with Mustang: where are the alternates?

    Ed, YOU were banned on FB? The left has weaponized hysteria and uses SM platforms to carry out the assault on our culture. No wonder they banned you.

    1. Baysider,
      I've been accused of nefarious carryings on simply because an unwanted stranger called into a household filled with suspicion and agitation.

      So, the robocalls are actually threatening your personal safety! I'm sure that you are not alone in this.

      It's an unacceptable situation that these strangers invade our homes time after time.

    2. Baysider, if I am right in assuming you still have a land line that enables all and sundry to make calls to your entire household, may I suggest that you switc to a personal cellphone you can carry with you at all times?

      These may be programmed to "ring" in any number of ways. You could choose a soft humming sound or a gentle buzz to which your husband suffering with dementia would find it all-but-impossible to respond.

      That might not eliminate the problem altogether, but I believe it would go a lng way towards alleviating it.

      I don't have a cellphone, but I've been told that the JITTERBUG is designed specifically with senior citizens in mind. It, apparently, has features more user-friendly than some of the other super-sophisticated models.

      You might want to look into it.

      Meawhile, I wish you the best of luck.


    3. Have both. So does Mr. B. Scammers call both. We got calls from Slovenia, Armenia and Greece in the last 2 weeks. They want you to call back and run up a huge bill that channels part of the cost back to the originator. Ugh!!

    4. Baysider,
      We have both here, too. And I make the following comment with gentleness.

      Here's what I do with my cell phone and our home line...

      I block calls.

      My iPhone allows me to block calls. And I recently bought a new set of landline phones with multiple handsets which allow me to block calls -- up to 100, I believe. Unfortunately, Mr. AOW's cell phone doesn't have that feature.

      Do I still get "spam" calls? Yes, but not nearly as many.

      Now, my situation here is vastly different from yours: no dementia here. So far. Mr. AOW is high risk for developing dementia.

      I'd have gone CRAZY if I'd had this problem back when I was taking care of Dad in his later years. God only know what kind of bill he would have run up by talking to phishers and scammers!

      PS: Whatever happened to the effectiveness of the Do Not Call Registry? That used to work for me!

    5. B. S. Blastitoffnow said

      Don't you think it's time you took your husband's cell phone away from him, since he's no capable of acting responsibly anymore? I would if I were you. It might not solve the problem, but I'm sure it would help.

  12. You don't think there needs to be any government intervention with robocalls??? I sure as shit do. As I was writing this, I just received my 9th robocall within 7 hours!!! That is completely Un-sat.

  13. B.S. Blastitoffnow said

    Nobody wants to solve problems they just wants to bitch about em. Effen they dint have nothing to bitch about, them poor things wooden have no life at all. An dats de Gawds honess troop

    1. How would YOU solve it, Mr. Smarty Pants?


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