Thursday, November 15, 2018

Facebook's Hellmachine Playbook

Wow.

In a bombshell exposé in the New York Times, a team of journalists uncovered Facebook's campaign to avoid accountability the use of its platform. A sample:

While Mr. Zuckerberg has conducted a public apology tour in the last year, Ms. Sandberg has overseen an aggressive lobbying campaign to combat Facebook’s critics, shift public anger toward rival companies and ward off damaging regulation. Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros. It also tapped its business relationships, lobbying a Jewish civil rights group to cast some criticism of the company as anti-Semitic.
In all, the article, which relies on the anonymous testimony of over 50 people, shows how at every step of the way, Facebook was aware of the problems with their platform, and their dire consequences, well in advance of admitting them publicly. It also shows that Facebook has built a machine that might very well be beyond its control.

Wow.

Monday, November 12, 2018

All the Power, None of the Responsibility

In a move that's sure to please Michael Rectenwald, an international group of academics is launching a Journal of Controversial Ideas which promises to publish authors pseudonymously. The journal, one of its founders Jeff McMahon told the BBC, "would enable people whose ideas might get them in trouble either with the left or with the right or with their own university administration, to publish under a pseudonym."

Academic researchers are already looking askance at the journal, and for good reason. Part of academic research is being intimately familiar with who it is you are citing. A literature review, done well, gives a sense not only of what has been said in the literature, but the kinds of people saying it. With the advent of pseudonymous publication, this becomes difficult.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Tucker Carlson Is the Paragon of Crocodile Tears

A few weeks ago, my friend, who is actually in Smash Racism DC (I haven't been art of the organization for three years) send me a pastebin doxx of Tucker Carlson and a few other far right personalities, so I probably should have seen this coming. SRDC has really been on fire with the doxxes as of late. Anyway, last night my SRDC comrades engaged in what's known as 'grassroots lobbying' - showing up at a powerful person's doorstep, usually at night, and generally making as much noise as possible.

Now Tucker Carlson is crying. He is afraid for his family even! From USA Today:

“Here’s the problem, I have four children,” he told Fox. “I never thought twice about leaving them home alone, but this is the reaction because this group doesn’t like my TV show.

Now we're supposed to feel bad for Tucker Carlson's family. This same Tucker Carlson who literally advocated the separation of thousands of families at the US border. We're supposed to fear for his children. This is the same Tucker Carlson whose Daily Caller published white nationalist Scott Greer's callous rebuke of justice for black children slain by the police. Go ahead read it.

The fact is, Tucker has used his platform to strike fear into millions of people every night from the comfort of his own studio. His eliminationist politics of racial purity influences policy to bring ICE agents to the doorsteps of thousands. He influences policy to ensure that pigs who shoot children are let off the hook. Tucker can cry all he wants, this is just chickens coming home to roost.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Nazis Poisoning the Well: Digital Blackface

My friend had a rather unpleasant encounter on Twitter with what she assumed to be a Hotep. His avatar was that of the face of a Black man. His display name (Sofa King Woke), though campy, seemed a plausible play on words for such a person. She said the account attacked her for tweeting about the ACLU Election Protection Program with something about "illegal aliens." First clue: Nazis almost never stay on message. Next was the user's @: @MumiaDouche. An obvious swipe at Mumia Abu Jamal and his supporters.

Nazis really can't help but give themselves away. In fact, I think it's part of the game, to make it in some way obvious that their ruse is a hoax. This gives them the ability to claim humor, a prank.

Friday, November 2, 2018

It's Happened

So we've finally done it. We've broken the fourth wall of US politics. Touched the third rail. Antisemitism is back and it looks like 11 dead congregants at a synagogue in Pittsburgh. It looks like defaced temples and vandalized grave stones.

I'm at a loss.

Friday, October 26, 2018

How Mussolini Sealed His Regime

August 12, 1924. An Italian railway worker finds a clue to a prominent socialist minister of parliament’s murder. Giacomo Matteotti, the stirring voice of opposition to Mussolini’s Fascism, is exhumed from a hastily prepared shallow grave. In late summer, the gains the National Fascist Party had made over two years seemed ready to unravel.

As the party gained power, it sought also to separate itself officially from the black-shirted squadristi who roamed in trucks assaulting and murdering various designated undesirables. In an age of ascending eugenics, the social purpose of the blackshirts was variously regarded if not their methods. Fascist power was materially realized through the appointment of Mussolini to the Prime Ministership in 1922 and in April of 1924 through control of the legislature.

For four months from August 1924 to January 1925, Mussolini was in the hot seat. On the one hand, the blackshirts wanted an orgy of violence to cleanse Italy of their designated undesirables. On the other, the opposition, now a minority within the state apparatus because of the Acerbo law, wanted an end to the lawlessness of the blackshirts.

Mussolini sought to appease both sides. On January 3rd 1925, Mussolini delivered a speech to parliament taking responsibility for the blackshirt violence. In promising to resolve it, Mussolini embarked upon a campaign of restricting basic democratic freedoms, and by 1929, liquidating electoral representation altogether.

Government was replaced with the party apparatus which was unified under the capricious vision of Il Duce. Mussolini’s successful maneuvering allowed him to unify a party whose fractures became apparent in the Matteotti crisis. It also allowed him to complete his fascist revolution through reform and repeal of existing law. Elections were replaced with referenda on the party’s leader who won them handsomely with well over 90% of the vote.

In the end, the investigation into the murder of Matteotti and other actions of the blackshirts didn’t matter. Mussolini became the law in order to absolve himself of his transgression of it. When Trump finally accepts responsibility for the escalating violence committed in his name, let's not give him the same opportunity.