Tag Archives: Facebook

Divide And Conquer?

First, Mark Zuckerberg, under pressure from the Feds, announced that he was forming an umbrella company called “Meta” to oversee Facebook and his other holdings. Then, it was General Electric, “33rd largest firm in the U.S. by gross revenues,” according to Wikipedia, which announced it was breaking up into several smaller companies. And now comes news that Johnson & Johnson, on the heels of huge Covid profits, “$502 million in global sales (from) its COVID-19 vaccine in the most recent quarter” says the NY Post – is splitting into two companies to “separate its pharmaceutical side from its consumer products.” I thought pharmaceuticals are consumer products, but they’d know better than I do.

These companies all making similar moves to split up can’t be coincidental, it must be because it’s to their advantage to do so, right? So what’s the advantage? Is it just a tax advantage, or does it go beyond that and into the territory of the federal government being less likely to go after a company that’s smaller on paper, even though it’s part of a much bigger corporation? Image, is everything? Merger madness in reverse without anybody really reversing anything? It just might work?

The fact than a handful of “too big to fail” banks haven’t already done this is a testimonial to just how powerful those same giant banks actually are.

My prediction is that it won’t stop with J&J. There will quite probably be more to follow as the United States, the world for that matter, continues veering toward a future that looks more and more like a real-world version of the movie “Rollerball,” begging for a big, bad trust-buster to come along and restore competition to the marketplace.

Facebook Hysteria

With social networking hearings taking place on the hill and pundits repeating the same information to the point that it becomes almost comical, the question must be asked, “Is Facebook inherently evil?” The answer, I suspect, is probably not. Not if you block all those you want nothing to do with, unfollow all those others you don’t want to hear from, and then have the smarts and the stomach to ignore the ads and political nonsense that might come your way.

Thing is, these are some really smart people, and with all those alogarhythms they’re using, you have to wonder if any of us can really determine the degree to which we’re being played? I’m not even sure what an alogarhythm is despite a year of algebra in high school. I can’t remember a bit of it. I had to google the word to get its spelling.

For several years now, going back to the Arab Spring, some have warned that technology is rapidly outstripping our ability to control what’s going on. The geeks, some used to downplay, are taking over and it’s no small matter. It’s not Mark Zuckerberg’s fault that he stumbled onto something that caused him to fall backwards into a mountain of cash which continues to grow. Nor is he immune to the same attraction to power and money that attracts us all. He’s just a kid who saw a good thing, took advantage of it, and then watched it grow. No different from Bill Gates, or so many other highly successful American entrepreneurs really. Some might say he got lucky. If he hadn’t done what he did, the Winklevoss twins, or somebody else, probably would have.

Whether Facebook and Twitter brought about the Arab Spring, or simply served to assist something that was inevitable, with or without social media, is still being argued. One of the best arguments I’ve read, is that the uprising would have happened even without the Internet, that people have been getting together to change the course of world history for thousands of years. But did social media help facilitate it? Undoubtedly so, but it’s no sure bet there wouldn’t have been an Arab Spring without Facebook.

Events that have followed, from the madness in Charlottesville to dozens of flash mobs, marches and protests generated online, demonstrate the power of social media. As does the election of 2016 and the attempted coup four years later, making most of us understand that this has gone beyond being serious. It is now threatening.

The angst and gnashing of teeth on Capitol Hill, demonstrates how far behind hi-tech our politicians are and how much needs to be done to try and catch up. They should have been discussing the regulation of social media before some of them even knew what it was, which means they are years late in understanding what it is capable of. Not sure even the geeks can answer that question

Nobody knows where all of this is going, and that’s what makes it so frightening and difficult to understand. At least they’re now trying and that’s a start. That said, it should also be noted that Facebook and some of the other hi-tech behemoths have purchased their own opinion factory, the American Edge Project. According to their website, they are a coalition “dedicated to the proposition that American innovators are an essential part of U.S. economic health, national security and individual freedoms.” Critics charge that the 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization, which may allow secret money to influence our elections” is just a front for Zuckerberg and Facebook. A “political advocacy group” they call it.

I saw an ad sponsored by the American Edge Project on one of the news shows just last night urging viewers to tell their representatives to give hi-tech the freedom to do what it wants to do, unfettered by cumbersome regulations. Free to continue growing its bottom line.

Facebook, is expected to have sales of more than $34 billion in the fourth quarter of this year, even with the whistleblower document dump and near-hysteria on the Hill, as our elected representatives try and understand what it is they are dealing with so that they can try and develop a plan to deal with it. And what is it?

I can tell you what it is. It’s all about alogarhythms and billionaire geeks who want to build their power base by increasing their profits. And they want government regulators to leave them alone. Simple, right? Yeah, simple as the simplest alogarhythm. And sales of more than $34 billion in the fourth quarter. For just one company.

Our elected representatives are gonna need some serious help.

It’s The Russians, Stupid

While CNN and MSNBC continue hammering away with their Covid/Cuomo obsession to the exclusion of almost all else, I had to go to the BBC, to find out that the Russians have (again) been targeting us with disinformation about Covid-19 vaccines on Facebook.

“Facebook Removes Anti-Vax Influencer Campaign,” the headline reads on the BBC. Their reporting explains further, that Facebook, “…has removed hundreds of accounts which it says were involved in anti-vax disinformation campaigns operated from Russia.” The campaigns, according to the article, targeted “India, Latin America and the U.S.” with the express purpose of undermining pubic confidence in Covid vaccines.

Why is Vladimir Putin trying to sew chaos around the world? Could it be because he wants us diverted from his big picture efforts aimed at destroying democracies and extending the power of oligarchs? American broadcast journalists have taken their eye off the ball, because they don’t know what the ball even is. At their urging, the American public spend their time debating the insidiousness of a politician making women “feel uncomfortable” and the value of wearing a mask as the Delta Variant storms across the United States.

Not that none of that matters, but at the same time, the unforgivable “Citizens United” decision is all but forgotten with a river of dark money influencing our public officials and oversight of the media all but non-existent, the Fairness Doctrine now long-forgotten and ratings-driven profits being all that really matters to tv and cable execs in front offices and boardrooms across the country.

Welcome to the U.S.A. The best government money can buy while the media watchdog takes a snooze in the corner. Isn’t this what we should be most worried about? The loss of our freedom of choice? Our liberty?

For their part, the Democrats, are trumpeting their great accomplishment with their infrastructure bill, an issue that will have faded from view as the Republicans, assisted by the Russians, pump so much smoke into the air that millions of us won’t be able to find our way to the polls, much less know who we should vote for, the Republicans, the new whiter than white party of the right, or the Democrats, who have seemingly been overtaken by a new inclusive diversity frenzy of the far-left that appears to view straight white men as the enemy as their numerous alphabetized categories of sexual definition grow ever longer, with “his” and “hers” all but eliminated in favor of “theirs.” No men, no women, just unisexual democrats. Whatever you do, don’t tell a woman she looks good or pat anybody on the back. Just don’t touch anybody. Ever. Even if you’re culturally predisposed to do so and the people you come from have been for thousands of years.

The Republicans increase their influence through fear-based KGB-like disinformation tactics and race-baiting, while the Dems, once again prove to be their own worst enemy, as they tear themselves to shreds from the inside-out, with their far-left attacking their more moderate base, leaving millions out in the cold, wondering if the Democratic Party’s really for them, or if its left-leaning faction has strayed too far to the left to suit their moderate sensibilities.

It occurred to me the other day, that what we need is another Ross Perot. For a time, it looked like he might provide an answer, the dawn of a new political day for America with his “Reform Party.” He appeared to be a true moderate. But it wasn’t to be. In 1992, he pulled in 18.9% of the popular vote, but got not even one electoral vote. Such is our system, with the winners taking it all and the losers being invited to “get lost.”

Then, at least, there were limits on funding campaigns. Now there are no limits as to how much money anybody, even a foreign power, can pump into the process to influence a campaign or an issue and we the people have to rely upon the BBC to tell us what’s really going on?

But who listens to the BBC? Exactly.

You can be sure Mr. Putin, finds all of this most amusing while others among us, fear for the worst.

Somewhere, Putin Is Smiling

The uprising in Catalan may have a nexus with Russia.  Or, it may not.  Shouldn’t somebody be trying to figure it out?   The Spanish Government maybe?  Or the CIA?

Looking back on the way the Russian Government usurped the government of Ukraine,  followed by its criminal taking of Crimea through the use of military force,  one must conclude that Putin’s Russia has a well-laid plan for interfering in other countries businesses, territories and general well-being.   Well, of course they do.    They’ve been in the expansion through espionage business big-time since Nikita Khrushchev threatened to bury us while banging his size ten Soviet-made wingtip on the Russian ambassador’s desk at the UN.

The introduction of our current information age and the  technological highway of the Internet make it all the easier for Putin and his “bot farms” to interfere, be it turning Brits to favor the “Brexit” through disinformation or American voters to favor Donald Trump because of a whole lot of fabricated nonsense many of them were led to believe was true.

It’s important to remember the role played by Paul Manafort in Ukraine and then in the U.S. election.   In 2005, Manafort acted as an adviser to Ukranian billionaire, Rinat Akhmetov, an ally of Vladimir Putin.   Manafort, who is said to be a protege of Russian billionaire Oleg Deripraska,  eventually became a principle adviser to Ukraine’s former President,  Russian-backed Viktor Yanukovych (another ally of Vladimir Putin), who escaped to (guess where?) Russia, following the Orange Revolution.    With Manafort, there appears to be another Russian billionaire with ties to the Kremlin around every corner.

So when Donald Trump needed someone to run his presidential campaign, who appeared like magic from out of nowhere?  Paul Manafort, who slipped effortlessly into the role of Trump’s campaign manager, even while many were scratching their heads wondering who the hell he was.

Even now, Donald Trump steadfastly refuses to say anything negative about Putin or the Russians and is currently stalling on levying sanctions against the Russians for interfering with American elections.  Really?  And there are those among us who still haven’t been able to connect the dots?

When fake news is real, and real news is fake, who ya gonna believe?  Very clever, these Russians.

There’s an interesting piece in today’s Guardian, entitled, “Our pain for their gain’:  The American activists manipulated by Russian trolls.”   The piece points out that what Russia has been up to goes far beyond simply placing phony ads on Facebook or creating fake news.    According to the newspaper, “This week, a Moscow-based news outlet called RBC uncovered the work of a troll factory that infiltrated US social networks, with Russians posing as Americans and making payments to legitimate activists in the US, directly funding protest movements. The revelations suggest that the Russian operation went beyond spamming online comment sections and spreading false news – and that a sophisticated interference campaign manipulated, controlled and created real-world events.”

So we’re up to that.   Putin and his people are now using disinformation, misinformation and cash funding to create “real-world events.”  And the victims don’t even know they are being victimized.   Possibly like what happened to the Brits with their Brexit and maybe even the uprising in Catalonia?   Oh sure, the Catalans have had a beef with Spain for decades, but why such a big blowout right now, with Brexit, Korea, Venezuela, Iraq and Iran all in the international mix?  Might not Russia be a least partially responsible?

The United States would normally be taking the lead in trying to ferret out precisely what the Russians are up to.  To what degree they influenced our last election and are now attempting to throw the world’s democracies into chaos, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.  Not to the degree to which it should.

Alarm bells should be going off all over Capitol Hill, and in the White House.  And they would be, were it not for our Putin-loving president who looks more and more Manchurian as the days and months roll agonizingly by and much of America remains in denial about it all, either because they have been mesmerized by Donald Trump and an endless stream of Russian propaganda or they simply can’t begin to grasp what’s happening because it is just too complicated.

Somewhere within the bowels of the Kremlin, Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly smiling that snarky little smile of his, as he contemplates the international chaos he has created.

Shouldn’t somebody be trying to figure it out?   How much of the current chaos is Russian based?   To what degree are we all being played for suckers by Vladimir Putin?    How far will Trump go to cover this charade?   Will he take the nation to war?   Who will stop him?

Robert Muller and his investigation could be the only thing standing between the United States and a Russian threat some don’t want to believe is real.   We can only hope there are those who can still feel the fire of patriotism.  Those with the strength of what America truly is, to force the Muller investigation forward to a legitimate conclusion.   If not, our great American experiment could be finished.  A thought too terrible for many to even consider, making it all the more important for all of us to get our heads up out of the sand and demand the truth.