‘Facebook will NEVER sell your information without consent’: Mark Zuckerberg’s claim in a 2009 interview is revealed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden

‘Facebook will never sell your information without consent.’ That is the impression Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was keen to give during a 2009 interview, but events in recent weeks suggest that was not the whole story

By Tim Collins

 

  • Snowden shared the footage in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal

  • The consulting firm bought data from 50 million unsuspecting Facebook users

  • Zuckerberg is pressed on his firm’s handling of data during the interview

  • Asked if Facebook would sell data, Zuckerberg responded ‘No, of course not’ 

‘Facebook will never sell your information without consent.’

That is the impression Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was keen to give during a 2009 interview, but events in recent weeks suggest that was not the whole story.

Video footage of the conversation was posted to Twitter by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

It follows revelations that the Trump-affiliated consulting firm obtained data on at least 50 million unsuspecting Facebook users.

This information was used to target voters in the US, based on psychological profiling, with political adverts spreading disinformation.

Facebook is also facing criticism for collecting years of data on call and text histories from Android users.

Snowden sent a tweet yesterday containing a video that showed Zuckerberg addressing privacy concerns on his website.

In the tweet, the former CIA computer specialist implored his followers to spread the clip beyond the social media site, attaching a download link to the original file.

The interview was conducted by the BBC journalist Laura Trevelyan, who pressed Zuckerberg on his firm’s handling of data.

Their conversation ran as follows:

Ms Trevelyan: So who is going to own the Facebook content, the person who puts it there, or you?

Zuckerberg: The person who puts the content on Facebook always owns the information, and this is why Facebook is such a special service.

Ms Trevelyan: And you won’t sell it?

Zuckerberg: No, of course not.

Ms Trevelyan: Just to be clear, you’re not going to sell, or share, any of the information on Facebook?

Zuckerberg: We’re not going to share people’s information except for with the people that they’ve asked for it to be shared.

Zuckerberg’s public 2009 promise is in stark contrast to his private thoughts at the time of launching his Facebook.

Video footage of the conversation was posted to Twitter by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden. The former CIA computer specialist implored his followers to spread the clip beyond the social media site, including a download link to the original file

During an instant messenger conversation with a friend at the age of 19, he branded early users of his social network ‘dumb f***s’ for trusting him with their data.

First picked up on by the media in 2010, these comments have also re-surfaced in the wake of Cambridge Analytica.

The leaked conversation was published in a Medium blog post by journalist Maria Bustillos.

Ms Bustillos said it shows that Zuckerberg has a long history of disregarding the privacy expectations of users over handling of their data.

The conversation, which has since been discussed widely on social media, ran as follows:

Zuckerberg: Yea so if you ever need info about anyone at Harvard, just ask. ‘i have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns

Facebook is giving its privacy tools a makeover as it reels from criticisms over its data practices and faces tighter European regulations in the coming months.

The changes won’t affect Facebook’s privacy policies or the types of data it gathers about its users.

But the company hopes its 2.2 billion users will have an easier time navigating its complex and often confusing privacy and security settings.

Facebook is giving its privacy tools a makeover as it reels from criticisms over its data practices and faces tighter European regulations in the coming months. This image shows how the settings will appear before (left) and after (right) the redesign 

Facebook says it’s trying to make the controls easier to find and to give users a simpler way to access and download the data it collects on them.

The announcement follows revelations that Trump-affiliated consulting firm got data on millions of unsuspecting Facebook users.

Facebook is also facing criticism for collecting years of data on call and text histories from Android users.

In a written statement, Erin Egan, vice president and chief privacy officer, policy, and Ashlie Beringer, vice president and deputy general counsel, said: ‘Last week showed how much more work we need to do to enforce our policies and help people understand how Facebook works and the choices they have over their data.

This image shows a redesign of Facebook’s privacy tools. The changes won’t affect Facebook’s privacy policies or the types of data it gathers on users, but the company hopes users will have an easier time navigating its complex settings menus

Among the changes, Facebook is making data settings and tools easier to find, is introducing a new privacy shortcuts menu, and is adding tools to find, download and delete your Facebook data

 

‘We’ve heard loud and clear that privacy settings and other important tools are too hard to find and that we must do more to keep people informed.

‘We’re taking additional steps in the coming weeks to put people more in control of their privacy.

‘Most of these updates have been in the works for some time, but the events of the past several days underscore their importance.’

Among the changes, Facebook is making data settings and tools easier to find, is introducing a new privacy shortcuts menu, and is adding tools to find, download and delete your Facebook data.

Friend: what!? how’d you manage that one?

Zuckerberg: people just submitted it. i don’t know why. they “trust me”. dumb f***s.

Zuckerberg may have been saved from the current privacy backlash had he listened to his rival, the late Steve Jobs, it seems.

Footage of the former Apple boss warning over Facebook’s handling of private data dating from 2010 has also re-appeared in recent days.

Speaking at the time of a previous privacy row involving the social network, Jobs warned that privacy rules should be spelled out in ‘plain English and repeatedly.’ 

Footage of the late Apple boss Steve Jobs, pictured here in 2007, warning over Facebook’s handling of private data dating from 2010 has also re-appeared in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal

Jobs made the comments at The Wall Street Journal’s (WSJ) All Things Digital conference, held in Los Angeles, where Zuckerberg was in the audience, waiting to be interviewed.

Walt Mossberg, the WSJ’S principal technology columnist from 1991 to 2013, asked Jobs about his thoughts on recent privacy issues around Facebook and Google, as well as Silicon Valley’s stance on handling sensitive data.

Facebook was at the time in the process of updating its privacy controls, in light of criticism that it was forcing people to share their data.

Google, meanwhile, had been accused of secretly intercepting Americans’ data sent over unencrypted Wi-Fi routers during a two-year period.

In response, Jobs said: ‘Silicon Valley is not monolithic. We’ve always had a very different view of privacy than some of our colleagues in the Valley.

‘Privacy means people know what they’re signing up for, in plain English, and repeatedly.

‘I’m an optimist; I believe people are smart, and some people want to share more data than other people do.

‘Ask them. Ask them every time. Make them tell you to stop asking them if they get tired of your asking them. Let them know precisely what you’re going to do with their data.’ 

‘A lot of people in the Valley think we’re really old-fashioned about this, and maybe we are, but we worry about stuff like this.’ 

Zuckerberg took out full-page adverts in nine major US and British newspapers over the weekend to apologise for the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In the ads, the Facebook founder vowed to clamp down on allowing third parties access to data which can be sold on.

Mark Zuckerberg, pictured here in July 2017, took out full-page adverts in nine major US and British newspapers over the weekend to apologise for the data privacy scandal. The breach saw details from 50 million Facebook users leaked to political activists

The ads, done in simple black text against a plain white background, were headlined: ‘We have a responsibility to protect your information. If we can’t, we don’t deserve it.’

‘You may have heard about a quiz app built by a university researcher that leaked Facebook data of millions of people in 2014,’ the apology begins.

‘This was a breach of trust, and I’m sorry we didn’t do more at the time. We’re now taking steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.’ 

‘We’ve already stopped apps like this from getting so much information. Now we’re limiting the data apps get when you sign in using Facebook.’ 

‘We’re also investigating every single app that had access to large amounts of data before we fixed this. We expect there are others. And when we find them, we will ban them and tell everyone affected.’

‘Finally, we’ll remind you which apps you’ve given access to your information – so you can shut off the ones you don’t want anymore.’

‘Thank you for believing in this community. I promise to do better for you.’

The apology is formally signed off by the 33-year-old Facebook chief.

The Facebook data scandal deepened over the weekend after users found the social network had harvested information including call logs and text messages.

Some users discovered the Silicon Valley giant had been storing complete logs of incoming and outgoing calls and text messages.

Others reported that data such as contacts in their address books, social events in their calendars and even friends’ birthdays had been stored.

One user, Dylan McKay, reported that from October 2016 to July 2017 his logs contained ‘the data of every [mobile] call I’ve made, including time and duration’ and ‘data about every text message I’ve received or sent’.

Rather than delete an account entirely, the social media site encourages people to ‘deactivate’ their profile as this leaves all personal data on its servers.

However, when users request to permanently delete their accounts, the site suggests: ‘You may want to download a copy of your info from Facebook.’

Emma Kennedy tweeted that she had found that Facebook had recorded ‘every single phone number in my contacts.

Facebook is also facing criticism for collecting years of data on call and text histories from Android users. Facebook user Dylan McKay revealed Facebook logged every mobile call he’d ever made

‘They had every single social event I went to, a list of all my friends and their birthdays, and a list of every text I’ve sent’

‘They have plundered my phone. They have phone numbers of people who aren’t on Facebook. They have phone numbers of household names who, I’m sure, would be furious to know their phone numbers are accessible. I’m appalled.’

A Facebook spokesman said: ‘The first time you sign in on your phone to a messaging or social app, it’s a widely used practice to begin by uploading your phone contacts.

‘Contact uploading is optional. People are expressly asked if they want to give permission to upload their contacts from their phone – it’s explained right there in the apps when you get started.

‘People can delete previously uploaded information at any time and can find all the information available to them in their account and activity log from our Download Your Information tool.’

The company says an opt-out for uploading contacts is available and users can delete all uploaded contacts by turning off the continuous uploading setting in Facebook’s Messenger app.

All previously uploaded contacts are deleted when a user permanently removes their profile. Contacts will also no longer continue to be uploaded.

WHAT IS THE CAMBRIDGE ANALYTICA SCANDAL?

Communications firms Cambridge Analytica has offices in London, New York, Washington, as well as Brazil and Malaysia.

The company boasts it can ‘find your voters and move them to action’ through data-driven campaigns and a team that includes data scientists and behavioural psychologists.

‘Within the United States alone, we have played a pivotal role in winning presidential races as well as congressional and state elections,’ with data on more than 230 million American voters, Cambridge Analytica claims on its website.

The company profited from a feature that meant apps could ask for permission to access your own data as well as the data of all your Facebook friends.


This meant the company was able to mine the information of 55 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.

This was designed to help them create software that can predict and influence voters’ choices at the ballot box.

The data firm suspended its chief executive, Alexander Nix, after recordings emerged of him making a series of controversial claims, including boasts that Cambridge Analytica had a pivotal role in the election of Donald Trump and Barack Obama.

This information is said to have been used to help the Brexit campaign in the UK.
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Toxic nothingburger: Cambridge Analytica exposé is dangerous political attack posing as journalism

Seeing Donald Trump’s media and political critics, who for years feted “big data,” suddenly pretend it’s a crime, is hard to stomach. And the feigned outrage is being used as a weapon of establishment control over social media.

READ MORE: US Federal Trade Commission to probe Facebook for use of personal data – Bloomberg

Before being repackaged by two leading liberal-leaning outlets to produce a media firestorm that has wiped tens of billions off Facebook’s valuation and could usher in a new wave of investigations and regulation, the actual facts of Cambridge Analytica’s data collection had been known since 2015. What has changed is the language: what the Guardian called “psychological profiling” and “behavioral microtargeting” before Donald Trump was elected, in the latest reports from the same newspaper becomes “psyops,” the sinister-sounding “harvesting,” the alarming “data breach,” and most gloriously “Steve Bannon’s psychological warfare mindf**k tool.”

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Behind the grand claims, the germ of the story remains – by tech standards – almost disappointingly quotidian. In 2014, the upstart data analysis company Cambridge Analytica developed a psychological quiz app that over 270,000 users of the world’s biggest social network downloaded and completed. As well as passing their own data to the UK-headquartered firm, the test-takers agreed to share limited information about their friends – age, location and likes – as in line with Facebook’s policy at the time, producing the much-cited but unverified figure of 50 million users that were profiled.

Mark Zuckerberg © Stephen Lam / Reuters

Whether and to what extent this constituted legal wrongdoing or a violation of service terms is still to be ruled on. Facebook says that users “knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked” and that Cambridge Analytica merely used the data beyond its original purpose, and was told to delete it, and has suspended it from its platform. Cambridge Analytica counters that it was misled and got rid of the data as it was instructed. Facebook argues that it did not violate its users’ self-selected privacy settings when it gave away their data, though regulators may argue otherwise.

But despite the lengths of text expended, none of this is a “gotcha”moment. Thousands of apps, including those with a wider user base, such as Tinder or Farmville, also collected the same data from Facebook through the same consent protocols, until the company changed its policy in April 2015, and similar information is still being directly gathered from users who decide to download apps today, or even simply log into a website using Facebook. Just check your own list of apps on the network and see how many firms you are letting “scrape” your personal info – all voluntarily.

It is also unclear if the data swayed any key election. In the 2016 cycle it was first employed by Ted Cruz, whose campaign barely dented frontrunner Trump’s popularity, and then by Trump himself. The work it did for the winning candidate, as described by both their CEO Alexander Nix and the New York Times piece, also seems standard-issue rather than ingenious or devious – designing who to target with fund-raising and voting appeals, research modeling, and data-driven campaigning, such as deciding where Trump and Pence should canvass. The much-vaunted psychographics – which contentiously claim to be able to understand people through their personal preferences and other indirect data – were not even used in 2016, according to Nix, as there wasn’t enough time. In fact, while he says that Cambridge Analytica played a “pivotal” role in helping to get a lackadaisical campaign moving, the company insists it did not deploy the 2014 Facebook data at all in Trump’s march to the White House.

Cambridge Analytics CEO Alexander Nix / Reuters

It used to be cool once

The more interesting part of the story – and, ironically, the real “psychological warfare mindf**k tool” – is how the concerning but dry, old and not particularly secret revelations have been pitched up into a hysteria.

The secret ingredient is persistence – growing allegations delivered in an ever more shrill tone.

The Guardian, in particular, has repeatedly tried to pin down Cambridge Analytica, particularly with its piece in May last year, headlined“The great British Brexit robbery: how our democracy was hijacked,” which earned it a defamation lawsuit from the data company. Though Cambridge Analytica has been culpable itself, happy to play up to its shadowy all-powerful puppet master image, as long as it got them notoriety and clients, and now left furiously tweeting denials when it may be too late.

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Last month, the New York Times was wondering if firms like Cambridge Analytica made a difference; now it declares the “operation at the heart of Trump’s campaign was ethically nihilistic and quite possibly criminal in ways that even its harshest critics hadn’t suspected.”

“Has the rise of micro-targeting become a threat to democracy?”inquires the Guardian, adding in its claims against Facebook that “Frankenstein’s monster is not under any human’s control.”

The concern seems somewhat new-found.

Here is another article from the same newspaper, from 2012 under the headline “Obama, Facebook and the power of friendship” – which even social media fans would find a little Orwellian.

Enthusiastically, it describes as “consciously or otherwise, the individual [Obama campaign] volunteer will be injecting all the information they store publicly on their Facebook page – home location, date of birth, interests and, crucially, network of friends – directly into the central Obama database.” Sound familiar?

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There are dozens of perfectly accessible articles across most mainstream media, detailing with enthusiasm, Barack Obama becoming the first Twitter president, his campaign using people’s DVR histories to determine which voters to target (doesn’t seem to be much consent there) or his “audacious adventure in persuasion” that selected potentially pliable voters, who would then be persistently called and doorstepped by campaigners. Evidently, micro-targeting wasn’t as much of a threat to democracy from him (or Hillary Clinton).

Shadows of other recent partisan campaigns lurk everywhere.

The Guardian has published an article highlighting the links between Aleksandr Kogan, the data scientist at the heart of the to-and-fro between Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, and St. Petersburg University, Vladimir Putin’s alma mater.

Adam Schiff, the Democrat House representative, has asked Christopher Wylie, the former Cambridge Analytica employee who fleshed out the weekend’s exposés with his colorful personal tales, to testify in Congress as part of the Russia meddling allegations, though there appears to be no tangible link.

First they came for Cambridge Analytica

Yet, however sexed up the news value of the story, or murky its motivations, it has broken through. Theresa May is “very concerned,” UK MPs want Mark Zuckerberg to testify, Cambridge Analytica’s offices will be searched, the US Federal Trade Commission is investigating Facebook, the EU has labeled the allegations “horrifying.” Facebook security officer Alex Stamos is already the first head to roll, leaving the company, and Nix has also offered to resign.

Of course, many will relish a blow to Facebook, a platform vocally disliked even by many of its avid users, regardless of who is delivering it. The issues of data security and privacy still remain uncharted and important for the future, and the California giant has always skirted as close to the line as the law and its users have let it. As for Cambridge Analytica, no one will shed a tear, particularly after the Channel 4 hitpiece on the company, which even if it used entrapment, made its staff look criminal or amateur.

But schadenfreude comes at a price. US social media giants have been under increasing pressure to exert greater control over the content their users see. Whether it is through claims of Russian bots, excessive exposure to RT, pro-AFD groups on Facebook, or Steve Bannon’s banner ads, the establishment, both ruling and media, senses a loss of control over the narrative and the width of the political spectrum. With a single change in its algorithm – either enforced from above to stave off further regulation, and self-inflicted as it tries to save its skin – Facebook could cut off not just a post you don’t want to click, but those you also do. And media-fueled public outrage has always been as good a pathway to censorship as any.

 

Edward Snowden: Facebook is a surveillance company rebranded as ‘social media’

Edward Snowden blames Facebook and other social media companies for data harvesting gone awry.

By Daniel Chaitin

Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden ripped Facebook in a tweet Saturday after the social media giant suspended Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm which worked worked for President Trump’s campaign.

Facebook accused the firm on Friday of not deleting data it had improperly harvested from Facebook users, which number in the tens of millions, but Snowden pinned the blame squarely on Facebook and lumped in other social media companies for being just as reckless.

“Businesses that make money by collecting and selling detailed records of private lives were once plainly described as ‘surveillance companies,'” Snowden said. “Their rebranding as ‘social media’ is the most successful deception since the Department of War became the Department of Defense.”

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“Facebook makes their money by exploiting and selling intimate details about the private lives of millions, far beyond the scant details you voluntarily post,” Snowden said earlier in the day. “They are not victims. They are accomplices.”

Cambridge Analytica on Saturday denied any wrongdoing, issuing a statement that said the firm “fully complies” with Facebook’s terms of service,

The ensuing uproar has prompted at least one lawmaker, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to call on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, reportedly asked Cambridge Analytica last fall to surrender emails from any of its employees who worked for the Trump campaign. The firm complied to the request.

Facebook has already taken heat for spreading “fake news” during the election and promised changes.

Last year Facebook handed Mueller its findings regarding Russian Facebook ads, revealed when the company announced $100,000 was purchased for ads from June 2015 to May 2017 by a Russian “troll farm” called the Internet Research Agency, which has promoted pro-Russian propaganda. The money was connected to approximately 3,000 ads and 470 “inauthentic accounts and pages.”

Mueller later indicted 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities for meddling in the 2016 presidential election, those who were part of the Internet Research Agency.

Snowden was granted asylum in Russia back in 2013 after he leaked secret information from the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs and has been there ever since.

 

YouTube To Introduce Conspiracy Theory Debunking Information Boxes On Videos

By By Aaron Kesel

YouTube has announced a crackdown on conspiracy themed videos, which will soon feature informative debunking boxes linking back to Wikipedia and other sources, Yahoo News reported.

In light of the recent conspiracy driven narratives after shootings, with many claiming mere minutes after an event that a situation was a false flag attack, YouTube has taken measures into its own hands.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki detailed what the company has deemed a “potential solution.” YouTube will now begin displaying links to supposedly fact-based content to combat conspiracy videos.

Wojcicki announced the new feature, which she called “information cues,” during a talk with WIREDeditor-in-chief Nicholas Thompson at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas.

Here’s how the new information box will work according to WIRED: If a user searches and clicks on a conspiracy video about “insert topic,” YouTube will now link to a Wikipedia page that will aim to debunk the claim alongside the video.

A video calling into question whether humans have ever landed on the moon might be accompanied by the official Wikipedia page about the Apollo Moon landing in 1969. Wojcicki says the feature will only include conspiracy theories right now that have “significant debate” on the platform.

“Our goal is to start with a list of internet conspiracies listed on the internet where there is a lot of active discussion on YouTube,” Wojcicki said at SXSW.

YouTube made sure to clarify that it wasn’t banning the videos or becoming an arbiter of truth.

“People can still watch the videos, but then they have access to additional information,” said Wojcicki.

In regards to using Wikipedia, the website can also be edited by anyone and has had its own credibility issues in the past.

Ironically, Activist Post reported months ago that since Google was heading towards targeting critical thinkers demonized as “Conspiracy Theorists” who ask the difficult questions in its rating guidelines, YouTube wouldn’t be too long to follow behind those actions.

Considering that the origination of the word “Conspiracy Theorist” comes from the CIA, I would say using a derogatory word to discuss those who think is dangerous. More modernized, in fact, it is also straight out of the JTIRG playbook that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed.

Misinformation is plaguing the Internet, but who is to decide what is and isn’t misinformation?  The readers themselves need to, because policing thought and opinion opens a door to the avenue of a Truth Council and information oversight where admins (the purveyors of truth) decide what is and isn’t fact. What happens when one of these people doesn’t dig deep enough and just dismisses something without looking at the evidence, due to lack of information or understanding? Censorship of not only ideas but also people as a whole who are effectively removed from the discussion.

As discussed in this reporter’s last article entitled “YouTube Purge: The End Of Freedom Of Expression Or The Great Awakening For Alternatives?” – questioning is healthy; and as writer Naomi Wolf exposed, you should think before it’s illegal to do so. “It’s no longer crazy to assess news events to see if they are real or not real,” she stated in the video below. As history has shown through declassified documents (overthrow of Mossadegh), leaked diplomatic cables by WikiLeaks, and reporting by murdered journalist Michael Hastings who exposed propaganda used against the Senate and Congress, “all over the world, it’s well-established, the State Department intelligence agencies engage in theatre, and it’s what they do, it’s spycraft, to create spectacles and events that people may not realize are spectacles and events…,” Naomi says.

Hastings exposed the use of propaganda to get into Afghanistan in his report entitled: “The Afghanistan Report the Pentagon Doesn’t Want You to Read.” The article was surrounding a leaked unclassified Pentagon report.  The report took the shroud off the U.S. military’s psyops operation command revealing several techniques the group uses in psychological warfare to manipulate the public, including but not limited to fake intelligence information, lack of information and social media manipulation, according to Lt. Colonel Daniel Davis. The kicker is that not only were those tactics used against the American people but the tactics were used against senators.

It is an extremely worrying fact that the Military Industrial Complex would manipulate elected officials with fake news, especially considering that propaganda wasn’t legalized in America again until 2012. Previous legislation had been passed to protect citizens during the Church Committee hearings as part of a series of investigations into intelligence abuses during the mid-1970s, amended by the Smith-Mundt Act. Smith-Mundt was repealed in 2012 under Obama, as Business Insider reported, “The NDAA Legalizes The Use Of Propaganda On The US Public.”

As Arkansas Senator J. William Fulbright stated, VOA, Radio Free Europe, and many others ED Fulbright’s amendment to Smith-Mundt was bolstered in 1985 by Nebraska Senator Edward Zorinsky, who argued that such “propaganda” should be kept out of America as to distinguish the U.S. “from the Soviet Union where domestic propaganda is a principal government activity.”

This is extremely dangerous; one perspective might see things a different way because one person has acquired information, while the other lacks that information. For example, the U.S. government (specifically the CIA) used documented propaganda on the public and uses foreign propaganda against other countries. It’s not just the CIA, other nations’ intelligence services do it, too.

While one person might feel that is insane, (and it quite literally is) the other person might know of the previous existence of Operation Mockingbird,which used CIA-employed journalists to produce fake stories during the Cold War era 1950s through 1970s. They also funded student and cultural organizations and magazines as front organizations.  This CIA operation became known as Operation Mockingbird and was mentioned in the infamous CIA Family Jewels collection.

The U.K. equivalent to Operation Mockingbird was known as Operation Mass Appeal. It was allegedly run by MI6 during 1997–98 and exaggerated Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction according to former U.N. chief weapons inspector Scott Ritter. That claim was further exaggerated years later in 2003 when the U.K. government Downing St. produced a fake Iraq war memo  that was exposed as being based off academic papers. It is a claim that would never have seen the light of day if it wasn’t for a doctor named David  Kelly, one of the lead scientists who called the Iraq dossier a sham.  Kelly was later found in the woods, and his death remains a mystery to this day.

Another example is how the media as a whole portrayed a video that was claimed to be from Syria (known as the “Syrian boy hero”) as real, but was later revealed by Norwegian filmmakers to have been faked. As a result, the media had to backpedal their story issuing retractions.

Years later in an unrelated incident, five people were arrested for using children in staged Aleppo videos, showing how dangerous it is to report any information out of Syria, as well as how important it is to have independent free thinkers.

Perhaps a better example, and one that doesn’t involve propaganda, that more people can relate to is the situation in Flint, Michigan where water was poisoned due to negligence that was attempted to be covered up by the local government. YouTube as a medium allowed those citizens to have a voice and show the carelessness by their government officials. Further, the government even removed the citizens’ power to sue the state of Michigan over the lead contamination of its water supply.

For a moment imagine that this was called fake; these people would have been ignored far more than they were by the national mainstream media.

Then there is the spraying of carcinogenic chemicals on unknowing residents in the U.S. and Canada by the Army under Operation DEW and Operation Large Area Coverage (LAC) during the Cold War in testing linked to weaponry involving radioactive ingredients meant to attack the Soviet Union. Which, if I am being frank, sounds absolutely bonkers; but if you study history, you will see that this is the least that was done during that time frame, i.e. the infamous program known as Project MKUltra. During that covert program, people all over the place were tested with various experiments, many times against their own will.

So to say that YouTube will link to one source that can be edited by anyone and claim it as the moral high ground of “truth” is insanity.

For now, at the very least, we can be thankful that YouTube is stating that it will not outright ban all content it designates as conspiracy theory (yet), despite the recent purge of dozens upon dozens of accounts that are connected to free speech and free thought. There are also always alternatives such as DTube, BitChute, and many others for uploading content. We need to ask ourselves is the YouTube purge the end of freedom of expression or the great awakening for alternatives?

YouTube’s moves against free thinkers could backfire for the company quite severely because truth is stranger than fiction. Although this writer can agree with YouTube that the world is a spheroid, definitely not flat or completely round for that matter, it is important to have free independent thought and speech. Even if that means I have to share the planet with flat-Earthers or people who believe every crazed murder spree is a false flag attack (granted some might be because Operation Northwoods against Cuba and a memo suggested a false flag attack against Russia during the Cold War using civilians as cannon fodder, so it’s not that insane to suggest.)

The rapid changes we are witnessing with the main drivers of Internet perception has even drawn the attention of one of the inventors of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee. He noted in an open letter that “What was once a rich selection of blogs and websites has been compressed under the powerful weight of a few dominant platforms.” Do we really want those dominant platforms telling us their exclusive version of the truth?

Aaron Kesel writes for Activist Post. Support us at Patreon. Follow us on FacebookTwitterSteemit, andBitChute. Ready for solutions? Subscribe to our premium newsletter Counter Markets.

Ex-spook Clapper celebrates 5yrs since lying to Congress, as statute of limitations expires

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It’s been five years since former US spy chief James Clapper lied to Congress about the NSA‘s giant surveillance program, and the statute of limitations for his crime is coming to end, guaranteeing him a peaceful retirement.

On March 12, 2013, Clapper, then director of national intelligence, knowingly lied to the US Select Committee on Intelligence, when he was asked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) whether the National Security Agency collected “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

“No sir. Not willingly,” Clapper said.

The full extent of Clapper’s unabashed dishonesty was revealed to the world just three months later, when NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden leaked troves of documents detailing the agency’s vast, warrantless surveillance of American citizens.

In the years that followed, numerous lawmakers called for Clapper to be prosecuted for lying to Congress – but to no avail.

Prosecutions under the two criminal statutes that cover lying to Congress – relating to perjury and making false statements – must be brought within five years under the Statute of Limitations. This means that, as of Monday, March 12, 2018, Clapper can no longer be charged with perjury, even though he lied and everybody knows it.

Not everyone who fibs to Congress is blessed with such a curiously unresponsive Justice Department, though. Over the past 10 years, there have been at least two individuals charged with desecrating the halls of Congress with their democracy-damaging lies.
In 2007, second-ranking Interior Department official J. Steven Griles admitted to misleading the Senate about the criminal doings of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

But the US government’s insistence on the truth and nothing but the truth was best exemplified in 2009, when professional baseball player Miguel Tejada pleaded guilty to lying to Congress after giving false testimony about performance-enhancing drug use in Major League Baseball.

“He admitted to lying to Congress and was unremorseful and flippant about it,” Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) told the Washington Examiner. “The integrity of our federal government is at stake because his behavior sets the standard for the entire intelligence community.” Massie was referring to Clapper, not the baseball player. Just to be clear.

Characterizing Clapper as unremorseful is highly disingenuous, however. The former spy chief, who retired from public service in 2017 to pursue a career as a cable news guest who blames everything on Russia, has repeatedly sought atonement for his past dishonesty.

“I have thought long and hard to recreate what went through my mind at the time,” Clapper wrote in a 2013 apology letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), referring to his unbecoming testimony. Explaining the reasoning behind his admittedly “clearly erroneous” answer, Clapper insisted that he “simply didn’t think of” the NSA’s massive metadata collection operation when Senator Wyden asked him if the agency collects data on Americans. Because why would he?

But in a later interview with MSNBC, Clapper re-remembered “what went through his mind,” arguing that he gave the “least untruthful” answer because he was “asked a ‘When are you going to stop beating your wife?’ kind of question, meaning not answerable necessarily by a simple yes or no.”

Clapper “has been frankly fundamentally dishonest on more than one occasion, whether appearing before Congress or speaking to the American people,” political analyst Charles Ortel told RT. The ex-intelligence director’s “example cannot be let alone. If he’s not going to be prosecuted for this, there should be a deep investigation of this and of his role in the surveillance state and other abuses,” Ortel added.

Some party-poopers have expressed outrage that a top spook lying about a massive, secretive domestic surveillance program will now likely never face justice, but others have very responsibly pointed out that Clapper lied to the American people – not Congress. Which is perfectly legal, by the way.

“The incident is generally framed in terms of whether Clapper mislead Congress… But he couldn’t have misled members of the intelligence committee because they knew what was going on,” Bob Turner, associate director of the Center for National Security Law at the University of Virginia, told PolitiFact. “The people who were misled were the American public.”

At the very least, Americans can rest easy knowing that Clapper can no longer poison broadcast news with his non-sequiturs and painfully poor understanding of how analogies work.

Capture

In March 2017, Clapper stated unequivocally that he could deny Trump’s allegation that President Barack Obama had wiretapped his calls in Trump Tower. When asked on NBC’s Meet the Press if “anything at Trump Tower” had been wiretapped, Clapper said “No,” adding that he would certainly know if there was a FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) court order allowing such a sensitive surveillance operation.

When reports emerged that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who, since 2006, has owned a condo in Trump Tower, was wiretapped under secret surveillance court orders between 2014 and “some point”in 2016, Clapper stood by his previous statements.

“I stand on what I said on March 5,” Clapper said in response to reporting on the Manafort surveillance orders. “FISAs are classified, so even if I knew something about it, I couldn’t [comment], and I don’t.”

‘NSA-proof’ Tor actually funded by US govt agency, works with BBG, FBI & DOJ – FOIA docs

A woman holds up a sign at a support rally for Edward Snowden, a former contractor at the National Security Agency (NSA), in New York June 19, 2013. © Eric Thayer / Reuters

The Tor Project, hailed as a bulwark against the encroaching surveillance state, has received funding from US government agency the BBG and cooperates with intelligence agencies, newly released documents reveal.

Tor, free software which enables anonymous communication over the internet, is a “privatized extension of the very same government that it claimed to be fighting,” claims journalist Yasha Levine, who obtained 2,500 pages of correspondence about the project via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.

Hailed as “NSA-proof” and used by journalists and whistleblowers alike to protect themselves and their sources from government retribution, Tor is painted in an entirely new light in the FOIA documents, which reveal cooperation between the software’s developers and US government agencies.

The documents released by Levine mostly focus on how Tor received funding from the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which supervises Washington-funded media, including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. But they also tell a story of how employees of the non-profit met regularly with the Department of Justice, the FBI, and other three-letter agencies for training sessions and conferences, where the agencies pitched their software needs, the documents show.

Commenting on the potentially explosive contents, Levine wrote in a blog post published on his website: “Why would the US government fund a tool that limited its own power? The answer, as I discovered, was that Tor didn’t threaten American power. It enhanced it.”

According to Levine’s research, Tor received “almost 100 percent” of its funding from three US government agencies: the Navy, the State Department, and the BBG. In collaboration with government agencies, Tor even drew up plans to deploy their anonymity tool to countries that Washington was actively working to destabilize – including China, Iran and Russia.

Although Levine claims there was never any doubt that Washington had repurposed Tor as a “foreign policy weapons” – arming foreign dissidents with the power to communicate anonymously – he says that his document cache shows “collaboration between the federal government, the Tor Project and key members of the privacy and Internet Freedom movement on a level that was hard to believe.”

Crucially, the FOIA documents also cast doubt on Tor’s ability to shield its users from government spying. Although there’s no evidence of Tor employees providing the US government with a direct “backdoor” to the software, the documents do show that Tor has “no qualms with privately tipping off the federal government to security vulnerabilities before alerting the public, a move that would give the feds an opportunity to exploit the security weakness long before informing Tor users.”

Levine, who says he used many of the documents in his book on “how privacy technology evolved into a tool of military and corporate power,” now hopes that the released FOIA files will be analyzed by journalists and historians who “will make use of this information to explore the relationship between privacy technology, government power and Silicon Valley economic dominance.”

The alarming revelations from Levine’s data dump are not the first to have implicated Tor in plotting with the US government, however. In 2016, a Tor developer was caught creating malware for the FBI to help the agency spy on users of the supposed anonymity tool.

The Tor browser was launched in 2001, using the so-called “onion routing” technology to provide anonymity while communicating over a computer network. Onion routing was developed and patented by the US Navy back in 1998 and its code was later released as an open-source. It relies on sending an encrypted message through multiple network nodes, each of them “peels” off a layer of encryption, sending the data further. The technology is supposed to ensure that each single node of the network is not aware of where the encrypted message is from or going to.