Posts Tagged ‘social-media’

Police Want Cop-Tracking App Banned, While They Use Technology To Monitor You

January 27, 2015 Leave a comment
One rule for them, another for us

Police Want Cop-Tracking App Banned, While They Use Technology To Monitor You

Source: Steve Watson |

As police are vehemently lobbying Google to disable a function within a popular app that allows real time tracking of officers’ whereabouts, officers themselves are relying heavily on social media to surveil citizens and even assign ‘threat ratings’.

A popular GPS based app called Waze has come under fire from police groups as it allows drivers to pinpoint the location of cops and report police sightings to others on the road.

The app was purchased by Google in 2013, at a cost of $966 million. It can be used to alert drivers when they are about to encounter speed cameras and police vehicles, in order that they can avoid what many have described as revenue generating harassment at the hands of the authorities.

Police unions are now arguing that the technology is putting their officers at risk, particularly in the wake of increased attacks on officers following heightened publicity concerning cases of police brutality.

Bedford County, Virginia Sheriff Mike Brown spoke out against the app recently, dubbing it a “police stalker,” and claiming that “The police community needs to coordinate an effort to have the owner, Google, act like the responsible corporate citizen they have always been and remove this feature from the application even before any litigation or statutory action.”

Despite these claims, there is no evidence to suggest that the Waze app has been used in any attacks upon police whatsoever.

Waze spokesperson Julie Mossler has responded to the police backlash by urging that the cop-tracking feature in the app makes the roads more safe.

“These relationships keep citizens safe, promote faster emergency response and help alleviate traffic congestion,” Mossler said.

Of course, when it comes to police using similar technology to track and monitor citizens, it’s an entirely different matter. Safety and privacy go out the window in such cases.

Most recently, it was revealed that police departments across the United States are now using a program that mines Internet comments and social media posts to determine the “threat score” of a suspect before cops arrive on the scene.

Reuters reports that law enforcement authorities have utilized an application called Beware since 2012 that takes just seconds to crawl billions of records in commercial and public databases to assign a threat rating to an individual – green, yellow or red.

“Yet it does far more — scanning the residents’ online comments, social media and recent purchases for warning signs. Commercial, criminal and social media information, including, as Intrado vice president Steve Reed said in an interview with, “any comments that could be construed as offensive,” all contribute to the threat score.”

In addition, it was revealed this week that The United States government, in the form of the Drug Enforcement Agency, is tracking the movement of millions of vehicles around the country in a clandestine intelligence-gathering program.

The program relies on license plate tracking technology, which has been used by police to monitor Americans for years.

Police have also recently complained about GPS technology being installed in their own vehicles to track their driving behavior. Again when police are the target of such surveillance technology, it seems to be a problem, but not when they are using it target Americans.


New ‘Cyberbullying’ Law Will Force Illinois Students to Give Up Social Media Passwords

January 21, 2015 Leave a comment

Students who refuse could face criminal charges according to school superintendent

Students suspected of “cyberbullying” could face criminal charges under a new Illinois state law if they refuse to reveal their social media passwords to school administrators.

According to the new rule, all forms of “digital harassment,” whether done on or off campus, will now be investigated as a violation of school disciplinary rules and procedures.

Parents and students in several districts were informed of the new policy, which began at the start of the year, after receiving letters from school officials earlier this month.

One such letter obtained by Motherboard states that administrators may demand passwords from any student deemed to have “evidence” relating to suspected cyberbullying.

“If your child has an account on a social networking website, e.g., Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,, etc., please be aware that State law requires school authorities to notify you that your child may be asked to provide his or her password for these accounts to school officials in certain circumstances,” a letter to parents in the Triad Community Unit School District states.

“School authorities may require a student or his or her parent/guardian to provide a password or other related account information in order to gain access to his/her account or profile on a social networking website if school authorities have reasonable cause to believe that a student’s account on a social networking website contains evidence that a student has violated a school disciplinary rule or procedure.”

According to Triad District Superintendent Leigh Lewis, refusal from students and even parents could lead to criminal charges.

“If we’re investigating any discipline having to do with social media, then we have the right to ask for those passwords,” Lewis told Motherboard. “If they didn’t turn over the password, we would call our district attorneys because they would be in violation of the law.”

Parents speaking with KTVI News argued that the law went too far and violated not only the rights of students, but of parents as well.

“It’s one thing for me to take my child’s social media account and open it up, or for the teacher to look or even a child to pull up their social media account, but to have to hand over your password and personal information is not acceptable to me,” said Sara Bozarth.

The new policy, which will likely be challenged by civil liberties advocates, clearly represents yet another brazen attack on the rights of both students and parents alike.

The new law also highlights the fact that the surveillance of students has become a major priority for many schools across the country.

Just last August school officials in Washington County, Maryland announced the activation of a new software program that actively monitors students’ social media accounts for illegal activity on and off campus.

“If the algorithm catches a phrase or a word then it will automatically generate a text message or an email,” District superintendent Clayton Wilcox said. “That email or text message will go either to the principal or to our director of school security or perhaps both.

Last August a former U.S. Army colonel turned school superintendent in Huntsville, Alabama created a secret surveillance program to monitor students’ social media accounts as well after reportedly receiving a phone call from the National Security Agency.



#FireBoehner: Backlash Against Boehner Explodes On Social Media

January 6, 2015 Leave a comment
House speaker owns millions in stocks profiting from Obamacare

#FireBoehner: Backlash Against Boehner Explodes On Social Media

Social media has exploded in opposition to Rep. John Boehner, who faces re-election as House Speaker and has profited from owning millions in stocks benefiting from Obamacare.

On Twitter, the number of tweets tagged #FireBoehner surged from 2,200 to 7,600 in only two hours last night as voters demanded a new House Speaker to replace Boehner.


“Why hasn’t Obama’s agenda been stopped the past four years? Two words: John Boehner,” @GovtsTheProblem tweeted.

He and thousands of others have completely flooded the social media accounts of Republican representatives, who find themselves wedged between the angry constituents who voted them into office and the Republican establishment who support Boehner.

For one thing, voters are angry at Boehner for his lack of opposition to Obamacare, which could be explained by his heavy investment in medical and insurance stocks, as Jerome Corsi of World Net Daily pointed out.

“Boehner has continued to profit from health-industry investments tracing back to 2009 [before Obamacare was enacted into law]: Wellpoint Inc, which he bought at $56 a share, is now trading at $124.37. Cardinal Health, which he bought when it was trading at approximately $30 a share in 2011, is now trading at $80.44; and Pfizer which was trading at under $20 a share in 2010, is now at $31.06,” Corsi reported. “In addition to the health-care stocks, Boehner’s investment portfolio includes several large insurance companies, including shares in John Hancock (bonds and notes), Travelers (stock), Prudential Financial (bonds and notes), Allstate (stock), AFLAC (bonds and notes) and MetLife (bonds and notes).”

Overall, Boehner’s portfolio of stocks prospering from Obamacare are worth $3.5 and $5 million, Corsi added.

Boehner is also profiting from businesses benefiting from President Obama’s executive amnesty, political commentator Pat Buchanan revealed.

“Boehner and those folks up on the Hill are going to follow the people who pay their room and board and tuition,” he told The Steve Malzberg Show. “The business community doesn’t want anything done.”

“They would like to have the amnesty just go forward.”


Police Using Social Media Posts to Determine “Threat Score” of Suspects

December 16, 2014 2 comments
“Offensive” online comments could earn you a “red rating”

Police Using Social Media Posts to Determine "Threat Score" of SuspectsSource: Paul Joseph Watson |


Police departments across the United States are now using a program that mines Internet comments and social media posts to determine the “threat score” of a suspect before cops arrive on the scene.

Reuters reports that law enforcement authorities have utilized an application called Beware since 2012 that takes just seconds to crawl billions of records in commercial and public databases to assign a threat rating to an individual – green, yellow or red.

“Yet it does far more — scanning the residents’ online comments, social media and recent purchases for warning signs. Commercial, criminal and social media information, including, as Intrado vice president Steve Reed said in an interview with, “any comments that could be construed as offensive,” all contribute to the threat score.”

The program also “allows the routine code enforcement of a nanny state,” allowing homeowners who have failed to trim their trees to be targeted, as well as being used for fishing expeditions and revenue generation.

An annual subscription to Beware costs police departments around $36,000 dollars a year, the majority of which is covered by federal grants. The program represents another step towards “predictive policing,” with the report noting that one recent speaker at a national law enforcement conference “compared future police work to Minority Report, the Tom Cruise film set in 2054 Washington, where a “PreCrime” unit has been set up to stop murders before they happen.”

The report notes that the program could also produce any number of false positives if the system has failed to update who lives at a particular residence, potentially transforming, “a green rating into a red rating — turning a midday knock on the front door into a nighttime SWAT raid.”

Given that any number of different comments made online in the heat of the moment could be “construed as offensive” to someone yet not indicate that a person is violent at all, this program should alarm civil liberties advocates.

There are innumerable stories of police overreacting to social media posts, while the most shocking stories revolve around people being harassed for sharing strong political opinions.

In 2012, former Marine Brandon Raub was kidnapped from his home by police, FBI and Secret Service agents and forcibly incarcerated in a psychiatric ward by authorities in Virginia in response to Facebook posts which the FBI deemed “terrorist” in nature.

In reality, Raub’s posts, which included rhetoric about ‘taking the Republic back’, were tame in comparison to actual instances of terrorist propaganda and referenced figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.

‘Anti-Facebook’ social network gets viral surge

September 28, 2014 Leave a comment


In a matter of days, the new social network Ello, described as the “anti-Facebook” for its …

Washington (AFP) - In a matter of days, the new social network Ello, described as the “anti-Facebook” for its stand on privacy and advertising, has become perhaps the hottest ticket on the Internet.

Created last year as a “private” social network, Ello ( recently opened its doors on an invitation-only basis.

Because of the limited supply and strong demand, the invitations have been selling on eBay at prices up to $500. Some reports said Ello is getting up to 35,000 requests per hour as a result of a viral surge in the past week.

Ello appears to have caught on with its simple message which seems to take aim at frustrations of Facebook users.

“Ello doesn’t sell ads. Nor do we sell data about you to third parties,” the company says.

Its “manifesto” states: “We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life. You are not a product.”

Ello’s policy states that the practice of collecting and selling personal data and mapping your social connections for profit “is both creepy and unethical.”

“Under the guise of offering a ‘free’ service, users pay a high price in intrusive advertising and lack of privacy.”

Based in Vermont, Ello was launched by a group of artists and programmers led by Paul Budnitz, whose previous experience include designing bicycles and robots.

Budnitz says on his page that Ello was designed to be “simple, beautiful and ad-free.”

- ‘Different politics’ -


Nathan Jurgenson, a social media researcher at the University of Maryland, welcomed Ello’s fresh approach.

“I love these moments of new social media when conversation explodes, moved to imagine how social media can be different, questioning core assumptions instead of just fretting and complaining — all before this paint even dries,” he said on his Ello page.

“Ello is getting so much attention precisely because it promises social media of a different politics. We’ve collectively come to the realization that the rise of social media has been accompanied by handing far too much power to far too few people, and there’s energy to shake things up, even if just a bit.”

Ello’s rise also comes amid complaints against Facebook from the gay community that the world’s biggest social network began disabling accounts using stage names instead of real names.

A San Francisco protest is planned against Facebook supporting “drag queens” who lost their Facebook accounts. Ello does not require real names.

– Business plan? –

It remains unclear if Ello will end up being a flash in the pan, or if it will develop a profitable business plan.

Ello states it plans to remain “completely free to use,” but that it could start offering some premium features for a fee.

Some question if Ello can succeed on this kind of model and keep its principles.

But former Ello collaborator Aral Balkan said Ello has already been compromised by taking $435,000 in venture capital funding.

A designer and founder of, a privacy advocacy group, Balkan said he worked briefly for Ello but left when he learned of the venture investments.

“When you take venture capital, it is not a matter of if you’re going to sell your users, you already have,” says a blog post from Balkan.

“It’s called an exit plan. And no investor will give you venture capital without one. In the myopic and upside-down world of venture capital, exits precede the building of the actual thing itself. It would be a comedy if the repercussions of this toxic system were not so tragic.”

The Truth Behind Social Media-Driven Donation Campaigns

August 29, 2014 1 comment

The Truth Behind Social Media-Driven Donation Campaigns

Source: Anthony Gucciardi & Mikael Thalen | |

While hospitality and charity remain a cornerstone of American society, a recent history of social media-driven donation campaigns show the tactic has often been used to scam well-meaning people.

Although more than $94 million in donations have been raised through the viral “ice bucket” social media campaign, the actual amount going towards the non-profit ALS Association’s research is strikingly different.

According to the ALS Association’s own 2014 financial breakdown, only 27 percent of funds make their way to researching a cure for the disease. Despite its non-profit status, six figure salaries are bestowed upon the group’s top 11 executives.

As Sayer Ji of GreenMedInfo points out in his breakdown of the ice bucket phenomenon, even the smaller portions spent on research for ALS are actually going towards pharmaceutical interventions and the pharmaceutical industry at large.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation, known for its pink ribbon breast cancer campaign, has received similar condemnation as well after the company’s expenditures were found to be less than charitable. According to Charity Navigator, the company’s 2010 revenue reached nearly $312 million. Of that, only 20 percent was used for research, with former CEO and president Hala G. Moddelmog making as much $550,000 per year.

“Komen receives over $55 million in annual revenue from corporate sponsorships, from such health-minded companies as Coca Cola, General Mills, and KFC,” noted AlterNet’s Emily Michelle. “Buy a bucket of junk food, and pretend as though you’re helping to save lives while you slowly take your own.”

Following the devastating 7.0 earthquake in Haiti in 2010, the “Hope for Haiti” telethon brought countless celebrities out to raise awareness and funds for those hit hardest in the country. Shortly after, it was learned that much of the cash would be given to several foundations such as one run by former presidents Bush and Clinton. Donations were also funneled to United Nations operations as well as foundations with absurdly high administrative costs.

Most famously, the Kony 2012 campaign ran by the Invisible Children organization, was allegedly used to gather funds for children affected by Joseph Kony, war lord and leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

Called ”misleading” and “dangerous” by former Yale political science professor Chris Blattman, Invisible Children only used $2.8 million of $8.8 million raised to directly help Ugandan children according to a 2010-2011 expenditure report.

Beyond the financial aspect, further research revealed the campaign to be part of an undeniable attempt to create support for military intervention into Africa.

Although Kony 2012 did eventually experience a major backlash from the public, the attempt to push war through social media campaigns has only continued. A video published earlier this year entitled “I am a Ukrainian” attempted to push the American public into supporting US policy in the region after so called “grass roots” protests arose in the country.

“The origins of the video are not quite as ‘grass roots’ as is portrayed. The clip was produced by the team behind A Whisper to a Roar, a documentary about the ‘fight for democracy’ all over the world, which was funded by Prince Moulay Hicham of Morocco,” Infowars writer Paul Joseph Watson noted. “The ‘inspiration’ behind the documentary was none other than Larry Diamond, a Council on Foreign Relations member. The Council on Foreign Relations is considered to be America’s ‘most influential foreign-policy think tank’ and has deep connections with the U.S. State Department.”

Evidence indicating that protesters were being paid and armed by the US as they called for deeper involvement with the European Union only raised suspicions over the group’s legitimacy.

Amid all of the social media madness when it comes to charitable organizations like Susan G. Komen and now the ALS Association, it remains true that the key element necessary for real change is the spread of information. And when financial abilities allow for it, supporting real charities with a proven track record of directly supporting its stated goals with the bulk of its financial power.

Former CBS Reporter Agrees: Mainstream Media Manipulated, Controlled by Establishment

June 4, 2014 1 comment

Former CBS Reporter Agrees: Mainstream Media Manipulated, Controlled by Establishment

Growing movement to sway public opinion through social media and even Wikipedia
Speaking from direct experience, and with refreshing honesty, a former CBS correspondent openly confirmed that the mainstream media is being covertly manipulated by well-financed political forces who are also trying to sway public opinion through social media and by editing Wikipedia articles.

Sharyl Attkisson, who also served as a correspondent with CNN, suggested that real investigative journalism is disappearing in mainstream media due to the current editorial trend to push stories in an unnatural direction in order to serve establishment agendas.

“What I hope to do with ‘Stonewalled’ [her book], is explain to the public how images that they see every day – not just on the news, but including in the news – but on social media; on television; on billboards – how these images are manipulated in covert and surreptitious ways by political forces and financially-backed forces that they have no idea about,” she told The Daily Signal. “If you can become savvy to this manipulation, and sometimes, outright propaganda, you can learn to recognize it and, sort of, filter through it – which, I think, helps people make up their own mind about what’s really going on in the world.”

Attkisson also indicated that there’s a growing movement inside Washington D.C. to affect public opinion outside of direct lobbying.

“Now, there’s a whole industry set up around manipulating public opinion or swaying public opinion in other ways – through social media; maybe, setting up blind accounts or accounts through pseudonyms; through editing Wikipedia in certain ways; through posting on Twitter and Facebook,” she stated. “There all kinds of ways that people’s opinions are being shaped through forces that they don’t know are behind the shaping of those opinions, and I really think it’s important that people know who’s behind the efforts.”

And this movement is expanding at a breakneck speed. Just a few months ago, for example, social media giant Facebook began offering “public education ad space” with content written by anti-gun groups targeted at users interested in firearm-related content.

Fortunately, in contrast to this rising propaganda, an increasing number of former mainstream journalists such as Attkisson are now heading to alternative media where investigative stories, such as how the federal government used extremely premature babies in a dangerous study, won’t be buried in favor of false narratives intended to paint the Obama administration – and the over 500 federal bureaucracies which operate with little oversight – in a positive light.

Although it’s been well-documented that the mainstream media has practically been a government mouthpiece since at least the early 1950s, when the CIA’s Operation Mockingbird began, it is refreshing and revealing to see that a former network correspondent is not only openly talking about media control, but she also views the alternative media as the solution to the controlled press that is rapidly losing influence.

“More Americans than ever are losing faith in the establishment-controlled media and are seeking out alternative sources of information,” Michael Snyder of the Economic Collapse Blog wrote. “Is this a trend that the big media companies are going to be able to reverse at some point?”

Not likely.


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