August 23, 2017
A popular weather app known for precise forecasts and storm warnings has been caught tracking users and sharing the location data with a third-party monetizing firm. RT America’s Marina Portnaya brings us the details.
August 23, 2017
A popular weather app known for precise forecasts and storm warnings has been caught tracking users and sharing the location data with a third-party monetizing firm. RT America’s Marina Portnaya brings us the details.
August 23, 2017
“Facebook is for old people,” I was told by a 17-year-old last week in San Francisco at the Startup Societies Summit.
He doesn’t use the social media platform. He’s right too. About half a million fewer teens aged 12-17 will use Facebook this year compared to last year.
Facebook depends on older people for its advertising revenue. But it needs to get users while they are young in order to keep them coming back to the social media website when they are older.
Facebook may be busy cooking up ways to attract the younger crowd, but they will inevitably fail at doing so. It is too late. If I am being told by a teenager that Facebook is for old people, the company probably suffers from an insurmountable branding problem among teens.
If parents are on Facebook, kids aren’t interested.
It’s not time to dig Facebook’s grave just yet.
Instagram is the preferred alternative to Facebook among youngsters. And Facebook owns Instagram.
But Facebook and Instagram are totally different platforms. On Instagram, you share pictures. Sure, you can write a caption and use some hashtags. And plenty of people still share memes. But it is not the personal information clearinghouse that Facebook is… or was.
Facebook is struggling with how to get people to share more personal things on their website. That was the main feature for a while, and probably what made Facebook popular. But now people are moving towards sharing more images, memes, and videos… things you can do on Instagram, Youtube, and Snapchat.
Ironically Facebook’s attempts to compete with other platforms helped depersonalize it. The engagement which made it popular is in the process of evaporating.
…sharing of original, personal content on Facebook declined by 21% between mid-2014 and mid-2015, and by 15% between April 2015 and April 2016, according to the Information.
Facebook addressed this decline in the sharing of personal content as “context collapse.” As users’ networks ballooned and their feeds became crowded with an ever growing pool of links and multimedia content from brands, who could blame them for not sharing? What’s the point of writing on a friend’s Timeline or posting a status update when it won’t be seen?
For me, Facebook is basically just a directory. People I have met and want to network with are added as friends, and then if I need to contact them, I can always send them a Facebook message.
It is also considered necessary to have Facebook pages for businesses or websites. This just adds to the impersonal feeling. People are seeing Facebook as more of an advertising machine, and less as an online social club. They are seeing more news–sure sometimes with their friends’ terrible opinions thrown in–and less about how their friends are feeling.
Facebook needs to know how you are feeling… it is how they advertise to you.
And this highlights why owning Instagram might not be enough for Facebook’s business model. Yes, they will still be alive as a company. But being alive isn’t the same as being an advertising powerhouse.
The reason Facebook is such a good way to advertise is because of the data. They know your “likes” and dislikes. They know what time you are most likely to click, and when you just want to be shown a cute cat video.
In Zuckerberg’s quest for world domination, Instagram just cannot deliver.
Facebook is in the power game by manupulating emotions, and making you feel a certain way. Facebook actually performed a study which manipulated the emotions of over 600,000 users in January 2012. For a week, they showed some people only negative news and status updates, and others only positive stories.
What the targetted users went on to post corresponded with whether or not they were being shown negative or positive things. They even were more likely to post emotional status updates when shown friends’ emotional updates. When they were shown mundane, boring posts, they were more likely to refrain from posting at all.
Facebook basically demonstrated that they can shape your worldview based on the information they throw into your feed.
But Instagram is different. On Instagram, you don’t have “friends.” You can follow someone, and they can follow you back. But they don’t have to. You can have one way follows. And it isn’t that easy for the other person to tell if you follow them, except at the very beginning, or by tediously looking through their follow list.
Sure, Instagram could serve up, or withhold certain images. But it is easy to unfollow friends who are posting stupid political memes without them ever knowing. People want to see beautiful places, architecture, animals, and pictures of friends.
It is a photo platform. Most of the time I don’t even read the description. Most of the time I scroll right past an image with words on it. Yes, they are still going to advertise to me, but my brain immediately recognizes it as an advertisement. They can only go so far without taking me out of the experience. In Facebook, that is all part of the experience, and it is relatively seamless.
So is Facebook going the way of the dinosaurs?
Probably not anytime soon. But I would be surprised if their influence didn’t shrink significantly over the next decade. They are not immune to industry disruption.
Even mighty behemoths of companies are not as safe as they might think. Remember MySpace?
August 17, 2017
July 22, 2017
In a statement provided to Ars Technica, Verizon claimed users were experiencing lower speeds due to a temporary test they were conducting on a new video optimization system.
“We’ve been doing network testing over the past few days to optimize the performance of video applications on our network,” a Verizon spokesperson told Ars. “The testing should be completed shortly.”
Customers who tested their data speeds on fast.com, which runs from Netflix’s servers, found Verizon’s LTE network was capped at around 10 Mbps.
A representative from the company said that caps were applied across the board to all video applications on the Verizon Wireless network.
“We are constantly testing the network,” a representative told the Verge. “It’s what we do, to optimize performance for our customers. The test was across the board, and did not target any individual applications.”
However, when users compared fast.com with other speed tests, they found drastic differences in speed while using the same Verizon network.
Users who tested their speed using a virtual private network (VPN), which hides which sites they were visiting, also noticed that they had much higher speeds.
The Verizon representative also said, “The consumer video experience should have been unaffected by the test, since 1080p video is HD quality and looks great at 10 [Mpbs].”
While it is true that many users would not be able to notice a difference, those who tether their phones to other devices could experience lower quality video. Netflix also said that Ultra HD quality video may require 25 Mbps, but only for non-mobile devices.
In the past, Netflix has throttled their own video stream in order to help users stay under their data caps. However, they recently changed their policy to allow users to choose different quality settings on mobile devices. Now, Netflix allows users to adjust data usage settings, which includes an “unlimited” option that “may use 1 GB per 20 minutes or more depending on your device and network speeds.”
When Verizon first announced its unlimited streaming plan in February, they told Ars Technica that they “deliver whatever the content provider gives us,” adding that they “don’t manipulate the data.”
According to Verizon’s website, those with an unlimited plan should not be throttled until they reach 22BG of data in a month, and even then, they should only experience throttling if their network is congested.
Internet service providers (ISP) like Verizon are subject to Title II regulations under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which requires them to treat all traffic equally. The current head of the FCC has called for net neutrality rules to be rolled back, which would allow Verizon to prioritize or manipulate traffic to any site or application.
Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.
June 27, 2017
Over the years I’ve become increasingly wary of the various markets that are now run almost exclusively by computers and have occasionally commented about it in blogs. I’ve even entertained the possibility, in my high octane speculation mode, that various “flash crash” events seem to have features that suggest that the algorithm “took over” and drove a market event with no connection to human market realities; in this respect, I continue to be unconvinced, for example, by the various explanations of the May 2010 flash crash; call it a suspicion, or a hunch, nothing more. Yes, in short, I’ve entertained the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) is not “coming” but already “here”, and may be infesting the “dark pools” and high frequency trading (HFT) algorithms.
Well, now I’m not the only one, according to these stories shared by Ms. K.M.:
From the first article, I want to draw your attention to the following statements:
Listen Luddites, for the stock market, too, it’s a thing about the machines.
Throw away your fundamental analysis, your price charts, interest rates and economic growth forecasts, as the market has lost its moorings.
It is no longer a pyramid of fundamental and technical analysis nor is it a response to changing investor sentiment.
The ongoing multiyear changes in the market structure and dominant investor strategies in which quants, algos and other passive strategies (e.g., ETFs) have replaced active managers raise the same risks that Finchley faced 57 years ago.
And the overwhelming impact of central bankers’ largesse is the cherry on the market’s non-fundamentally influenced sundae.
As I have written:
“The combination of central bankers’ unprecedented largesse (and liquidity) when combined with mindless quant strategies and the enormous popularity of ETFs will, as night follows day, become a toxic cocktail for the equity markets. While we live in an imperfect world, we face (with valuations at a 95% decile on a number of metrics) a stock market that views the world almost perfectly.”
Back to JPMorgan’s Marko Kalonovic, who is quoted at the top of this piece and again here:
“… some striking facts: to understand this market transformation, note that Passive and Quantitative investors now account for ~60% of equity assets (vs. less than 30% a decade ago). We estimate that only ~10% of trading volumes originates from fundamental discretionary traders. This means that while fundamental narratives explaining the price action abound, the majority of equity investors today don’t buy or sell stocks based on stock-specific fundamentals. (Bold emphasis added)
Let that last statement sink in for a moment, for if you, like I, have been wondering just why the heck markets don’t make sense any more, it’s because they are utterly unconnected to humanity and human decision-making. That “less than ten percent” of trading volume that “originates from fundamental discretionary traders” means that actual human consideration of stock performance, or even equities in a certain specific sector of industry – say, film-making or farm implement manufacture – are based on actual human consideration of the performance, risk, and returns of a particular stock.
I don’t know about you, but I find this development more than disturbing.
But before we move on to the second article, pause and consider something else: it is often a criticism or critique that centralized solutions, the “one size fits all” political solutions of the political left are unworkable, precisely because no human being can calculate for all possible circumstances for all human beings: one cannot, as it were, create a bureaucratic policy or algorithm to stick in “guideline notebooks” for every possible situation.
And that raises the thorny philosophical question that no one seems to want to address:
How then, can we expect human creators of computer algorithms to do for markets, what cannot be done for other segments of human interaction by bureaucrats?
With that philosophical point in mind, turn to the second article, and consider these very cogent points made for our friends at Zero Hedge:
Most people think of artificial intelligence and algos as simply executing logical rules programmed into them by humans — the same rules that the programming humans would follow if they were presented with the same data and data analysis. The algos and AIs are doing it in the same way humans have always done and would do, but at a much slower speed or perhaps not at all because of the very weak and distant relationship of some data items to other data items.
The general belief is that algos and AIs are just “faster humans able to do a lot more calculations in a meaningful time frame”. That may NOT be a correct characterization of some of the more powerful AIs that may be working in the markets. Of course, we don’t know what AIs are working because there are no regulations requiring that machine decision-making accounts disclose and register as such … a very, very big gap in regulation.
True, AI and the related “machine learning” developments at the leading edge of such technology do NOT simply duplicate human rules and logic. Instead, while they may perform simple repetitive correlations initially on data as humans currently formulate that data, the more advanced machines go on to program themselves at successive layers, where the data being analyzed and correlated is no longer what we think of as data. Rather, it is often data artifacts created by the first layers in a form that no human would ever consider or has ever seen. To put in a more street-level way, the first level creates ghosts and apparitions and shadows that the second layer treats as real data on which it assesses correlation and predictability in the service of some decision asked of it. AND … a third and fourth and on and on are doing the same thing with output from each layer below it.
The result of this procedure is striking and terrifying when the the leading experts in AI and machine learning are interviewed. They admit that they have no way of determining what rules AI and machine- learning powered machines are following in making their decisions AND we cannot even know what inputs are being used in making those decisions.
Think about that. The creators have no knowledge of what their creations are thinking or what kind of inputs the machines are thinking about and how decisions about that are being made. The machines are inscrutable and, most terrifyingly important, UNPREDICTABLE.
We are not telling these AIs how to make decisions. The machines are figuring out how to decide to “make a profit” on their own and subject to no enforceable constraint.
The resulting risk of “flash crashes” — to lump all sudden and unexpected behaviors into a catchphrase — is unknowable but probably much greater than anyone even dreams. The machines have no fear of flash crashes or any other kind of crash. Such crashes might even serve their purpose of “making a profit.”
Note what is really being said:
(2) is processing and making trading decisions based on those artifacts;
(3) none of these processes are transparent, and thus, we do not even know why the markets are behaving as they are behaving, we only know they are not reflective of human market realities; and finally,
(4) all this can lead to the risk of flash crashes.
Lest one think that this sounds too incredible to be true, consider the final closing paragraph of this article, which is the biggest jaw-dropper of them all:
Everyone should read this important note from JPMorgan’s head quant (hat tip to Zero Hedge) in order to understand how risk parity, volatility trending, stat arb and other quant strategies that are agnostic to balance sheets, income statements and private market value artificially are impacting the capital markets and, temporarily at least, are checking volatility. (Bold and italics emphasis added)
Let that sink in for a moment: because algorithms trade at such extraordinary speed, and execute trades in blocks of equities, little or no correlation is being with actual specific equity performance, such as a human “discretionary investor” would make, looking at “old fashioned analogue sorts of things” like balance sheets, income, profit/loss statements, company indebtedness, cost-earnings ratios, exposure, assets &c… in other words, the algorithms have little to no connection to markets and their realities, much less to human decision-making processes that are normally involved in the investment process.
The bottom line? Well, over the long term, obvious a huge rethink of computer-based trading is in order. Frankly, I’m old fashioned enough to want to see a Wall Street trading floor of shouting traders, piles of paper, and bundles of stock certificates being mailed out every day. But beyond this, there’s a short term necessity, perhaps one can call it a strategy, and that’s “keep it local”, and in “keeping it local” I mean, even for local investments, finding out about their exposure to national and international markets: how much of that local bank’s stock is traded on the big markets, and who are the major shareholders? And so on… because, for right now, these machines are at the root of market unreality.
This should, and I hope will, prompt a discussion, and it will have to be a deep one, for the problem of the quants and their algorithms is highlighting the limitations of technology for a human world. The disconnection of markets from real human market activity is a case in point of how technologies have been adapted to a normal human activity – investing and trading – in an inhuman way. And the problem is, if the markets are that far removed from human realities, what will happen if, suddenly, someone pulls the plug? How many would remember how to conduct trades on the floor, the “old fashioned way”?
See you on the flip side…
Read More At: GizaDeathStar.com
Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and “strange stuff”. His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into “alternative history and science”.
June 20, 2017
The Environmental Health Trust published “Cell Phone Radiation Scandal: More Exposure Than Manufacturers Claim ‘PhoneGate’ In France, government data release reveals 9 out of 10 phones tested exceed regulatory limits” .
The French ANFR published online on June 1, 2017, a listing of cell phone data “details of make, model and test results for each cell phone that was tested, after months of legal action by French physician Dr. Marc Arazi.”
According to Environmental Health Trust,
Popular brands such as Apple, Motorola, Samsung and Nokia were among the cell phone models tested. When tested in contact with the body, some phones have test results as high as triple the manufacturer’s previously reported radiation levels.  [CJF emphasis]
Here’s something that for the life of me, I cannot understand parents permitting or allowing their toddlers to play with!
Dr. Arazi replied with the following statement as a result of a French court order to publish the results of cell phone radiation exposure when used next to the human body, as most cell phones are handled, even worn “live” in women’s bras, men’s trouser pants pockets, on belts, or anywhere on the body:
As a physician, I am deeply concerned about what this means for our health and especially the health of our children. People have a right to know that when cell phones are tested in ways people commonly use phones – such as in direct contact with their body – the values exceed current regulatory limits. This is a first victory for transparency in this industry scandal.
Here are Dr. Arazi’s less than 2 minute comments about the French court’s decision on cell phone radiation dangers.
This article recounts key events along a time line that stretches from 1986 to the present. Follow the bouncing ball.
Since Facebook went public with an IPO (Initial Public Offering) of stock in 2012, I’ve been following the trail of its stock price.
In 2012, I wrote:
“But now the Facebook stock has tanked. On Friday, August 17 , it weighed in at half its initial IPO price. For the first time since the IPO, venture-capital backers were legally permitted to sell off their shares, and some did, at a loss.”
“Articles have begun appearing that question Zuckerberg’s ability to manage his company. ‘Experts’ are saying he should import a professional team to run the business side of things and step away.”
“This has the earmarks of classic shakeout and squeeze play… First, [insiders] drive down the price of the stock, then they trade it at low levels that discourage and demoralize public investors, who sell their shares…As the stock continues to tank, the insiders quietly buy up as much of it as they can. Finally, when the price hits a designated rock bottom, they shoot it up all the way to new highs and win big.”
In 2013, I followed up and wrote: “Facebook launched its IPO and went public on May 18, 2012. The opening stock price was 42 dollars a share.”
“In September 2012, the collapsing stock hit a low of 17.55.”
“On October 17, 2013, a year later, after a long climb, the stock reached an all-time high: 52.21.”
“So…Facebook, a company with CIA-front connections, a company that encourages people to offer up surveillance data on themselves [and censors politically incorrect news], goes through a financial transformation. Its IPO price collapses like ice in a heat wave. It keeps trading at its new low prices, scaring lots of investors.”
“They sell their shares. Insiders buy up those shares at delicious discounts.”
“Then, when the insiders have scooped up enough, they begin to move the price. Up. The long climb begins.”
Now, in June of 2017, it’s time to check in again. What’s happened to Facebook’s stock price since the high of $54 a share in 2013?
From October 2016 to December 2016, there was another shakeout that convinced many shareholders to dump their stocks—and of course, insiders gobbled up those shares for themselves. The shakeout took the stock price down from an all-time high of $127.88 a share to $115.05.
Then, once again, the relentless climb resumed. On June 2nd of this year, the stock reached a new all-time high of $153.61.
All in all, quite a ride. From the IPO price of $42, down to $17…and now $150.
Are some of the insiders who have been engineering Facebook’s long-term stock-rise front-men for the CIA?
I ask that question because of Facebook’s CIA connections:
The big infusion of cash that sent Mark Zuckerberg and his fledgling college enterprise on their way came from Accel Partners, in 2004.
Jim Breyer, head of Accel, attached a $13 million rocket to Facebook, and nothing has ever been the same.
Earlier that same year, a man named Gilman Louie joined the board of the National Venture Capital Association of America (NVCA). The chairman of NVCA? Jim Breyer. Gilman Louie happened to be the first CEO of the important CIA start-up, In-Q-Tel.
In-Q-Tel was founded in 1999, with the express purpose of funding companies that could develop technology the CIA would use to “gather data.”
That’s not the only connection between Facebook funder Jim Breyer and the CIA’s man, Gilman Louie. In 2004, Louie went to work for BBN Technologies, headed up by Breyer. Dr. Anita Jones also joined BBN at that time. Jones had worked for In-Q-Tel and was an adviser to DARPA, the Pentagon’s technology department that helped develop the Internet.
With these CIA/DARPA connections, it’s no surprise that Jim Breyer’s jackpot investment in Facebook is not part of the popular mythology of Mark Zuckerberg. Better to omit it. Who can fail to realize that Facebook, with its endless stream of personal data, and its tracking capability, is an ideal CIA asset?
From the time Mark Zuckerberg was a child and attended the summer camp for “exceptional children,” CTY (Center for Talented Youth), run by Johns Hopkins University, he, like other CTY students, Sergey Brin (co-founder of Google), and Lady Gaga, have been easy to track.
CTY and similar camps filter applications and pick the best and brightest for their accelerated learning programs. Tracing the later progress of these children in school and life would be a walk in the park for agencies like the CIA.
When Zuckerberg founded an interesting little social network at Harvard, and then sought to turn it into a business, the data-mining possibilities were obvious to CIA personnel. Through their cutouts, as described above, they stepped in and lent a helping hand.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Facebook/CIA presented an anti-Trump stance, which meant a pro-Hillary stance. Is that a pro-CIA stance? Let’s look at a fascinating piece of history involving the CIA and the other Clinton: Bill.
The source here is the explosive 1995 book, Compromised, by Terry Reed and John Cummings.
According to the authors, Bill Clinton, way back in the 1980s, was involved with the CIA in some very dirty dealings in Arkansas—and I’m not just talking about the cocaine flights landing at the Mena airport.
It seems Bill had agreed to set up CIA weapons-making factories in his home state, under the radar. But because Arkansas, when it comes to money, is all cronies all the time, everybody and his brother found out about the operation and wanted in. Also, Bill was looking for a bigger cut of the action.
This security breach infuriated the CIA, and a meeting was held to dress down Bill and make him see the error of his ways. His CIA handlers told him they were going to shut down the whole weapons operation, because Bill had screwed up royally. A screaming match ensued—but the CIA people backed off a bit and told Bill HE WAS STILL THEIR MAN FOR AN EVENTUAL RUN FOR THE PRESIDENCY.
Of course, there are people who think Reed and Cumming’s book contains fiction, but John Cummings was a top-notch reporter for Newsday. He co-authored the 1990 book, Goombata, about the rise and fall of John Gotti. He exposed US operations to destroy Cuban agriculture with bio-weapons. It’s highly doubtful he would have put his name on Compromised without a deep conviction he was correctly adding up the facts.
Here, from Compromised, is an account of the extraordinary meeting, in Arkansas, between Bill Clinton and his CIA handlers, in March of 1986, six years before Clinton would run for the Presidency. Author Terry Reed, himself a CIA asset at the time, was there. So was Oliver North, and a man named “Robert Johnson,” who was representing CIA head Bill Casey.
Johnson said to Bill Clinton:
“Calm down and listen….We are all in this together. We all have our personal agendas…but let’s not forget, both the Vice President and Mr. Casey want this operation to be a success. We need to get these assets and resources in place and get them self-sustaining and prospering on their own while we have the chance. This is a golden opportunity. The timing is right. We have communists taking over a country in this hemisphere. We must all pull together and play as a team. This is no time for lone wolves…
“I’m not here to threaten you [Bill Clinton]. But there have been mistakes. The Mena operation survived undetected and unexposed only because Mr. [Barry] Seal carried with him a falsely created, high-level profile of a drug runner. All the cops in the country were trying to investigate a drug operation. That put the police in a position where we could control them. We fed them what we wanted to feed them, when we wanted to feed them; it was our restaurant and our menu…now we have to shut it down….
“Bill, you are Mr. Casey’s fair-haired boy. But you do have competition for the job you seek. We would never put all eggs in one basket. You and your state have been our greatest asset. The beauty of this, as you know, is that you’re a Democrat, and with our ability to influence both parties, this country can get beyond partisan gridlock. Mr. Casey wanted me to pass on to you that unless you fuck up and do something stupid, you’re No. 1 on the short list for a shot at the job you’ve always wanted.
“That’s pretty heady stuff, Bill. So why don’t you help us keep a lid on this and we’ll all be promoted together. You and guys like us are the fathers of the new government. Hell, we are the new covenant.”
By this account, Bill Clinton was the CIA’s boy back in 1986, long before he launched himself into his first 1992 Presidential campaign.
That speaks of major planning. In 1992, an obscure governor from a rather obscure state suddenly gains national prominence and vaults to the head of the line in the race for the White House.
Now, consider the role of the CIA-connected Facebook in the 2016 presidential election. Did Facebook’s strategy of cutting off pro-Trump postings/information and instead supporting ANOTHER CLINTON, HILLARY, signal the continuation of a long-running covert CIA op to put and keep the Clintons in power?
Since 1986, have the Clintons been a package deal for the CIA?
Was the most recent incarnation of that deal the Facebook op to put Hillary in the White House?
Most people have a problem looking at log-term ops. They conceive of covert actions taking place along severely limited time lines. That’s exactly what major operatives count on. They can plan in the dark for two or three decades ahead (or longer) and feel they’re in the clear.
And when a little social networking company comes along and needs an infusion of cash, they can step in, help, and, seeing the possibilities, they can help push the stock to new highs and accomplish elite surveillance and censor true information and support their favored presidential candidate—all during the same dozen years.
It’s an easy program.
All sorts of cards can be played from the bottom of the deck.
Read More At: JonRappoport.wordpress.com
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free NoMoreFakeNews emails here or his free OutsideTheRealityMachine emails here.