#vigilante

Zucker feasted on your consent to be a sucker

Whatever the outcome of this hearing, much of the data collected was willingly offered by Facebook users. It was they who told people where they took vacation, the restaurant they ate or birthday they celebrated. It was they who adorned their avatar with a transparent French or rainbow flag as a back drop after another terrorist attack or to show support for same sex marriage. It was they who clicked the check box to agree to the “terms and conditions” immediately without reading it. Is that Zuckerberg’s fault? Questions however must be asked with respect to the ability to access microphones and cameras unbeknownst to users. How flagrantly was privacy law violated beyond that agreed by users?

For as much as Zuckerberg might look an evil violator of privacy laws (he may yet be proved to be so), if one wants real anonymity, social media is the last place to find it. It is doubtful anyone posts happy snaps on social media as a pure storage back up device. Many people crave attention and more than ever their self-actualisation stage in the ‘hierarchy of needs’ is driven by likes and shares rather than the Abraham Maslow’s original theorem of 75 years ago. The higher the ratio of “selfies” would probably be highly correlated to attention deficit disorder. Protesting the use of the data provided is a grossly naive assumption if not borderline negligent. Tucked away in the fine print of the words and conditions would surely have FB gaining their complete consent.

Ted Cruz took it to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on whether the social media giant ‘censors conservative’ news. He replied, “Silicon Valley is an extremely left-leaning place.While denying that he knows the political affiliations of the 15~20,000 staff who police content he said the group does its best to remove things that are considered hateful (e.g.hate speech, terrorism), hurtful or distasteful (e.g. nudity). It was brought to Zuckerberg’s attention that black conservatives (and Trump supporters) Diamond & Silk had their page blocked with 1.2 million followers on grounds of  “being unsafe to the community”. In any event, Zuckerberg deflected many of the questions in his testimony on grounds of the size of the organization but admitted not enough was done to police itself. Power corrupts…? Absolutely…?

Which brings the whole argument surrounding ‘free speech’ and social media sites exercising subjective political bias. It was only several years back that openly gay shock-jock Milo Yiannopoulos was banned from Twitter for causing ‘offence’ to a Ghostbusters actress. Yet what is offence? Where is the line drawn? What offends one might not offend another. However the censor would seemingly be able to use his or her subjective opinions, values and biases which makes it pretty clear what the outcome will be. President Trump learned that when a disgruntled Twitter employee temporarily suspended his account. Do not be surprised when we’re simply told to “get with the times” and accept the party line. Resistance is futile. It is the simplest way to shut down sensible debate.

Anyone active on social media is well aware of the risks of being targeted, trolled or attacked for expressing differing views. However do users require, much less want to submit to the machinations of the thought police? Shouldn’t they be free to choose what they view or pages they subscribe to? Indeed hate speech (not to be confused with difference of opinion) has no place but the majority of users are likely to be able to make that assessment without it having been arbitrarily made for them.

Then again, surely as a publicly listed corporation Facebook can decide what it wants to do with its site and let participants in the free market (who use it for no charge) decide for themselves that the obvious bias forces them to seek social media platforms elsewhere. Twitter share price was badly thumped for its blocking of certain groups and its share price is around 1/3rd the peak. It’s overall followers have fluctuated in the 316-330mn range since Q4 2016. The market works. It is taking Facebook’s shareprice to task on the grounds it will suffer for treating its users as mugs. Perhaps a look at activity post the hearings will show just how many mugs are still as active as before despite the threats to abandon the evil Zuck. The share price will respond accordingly.

It begs the question as to why a more conservative outfit hasn’t decided to make a Facebook equivalent which does not censor outside of clear violations of hate speech. Surely offering a replicated platform that didn’t censor free speech would be a massive winner. Users would also sign up to a simple (and SHORT) legal agreement that there is a risk of being offended and to commit to accepting it. Where clear violations of hate speech (e.g. threats of murder, terrorism etc.) are found such things can be reported to the authorities (with terms and conditions EXPLICITLY warning of such repucussions for violating easy to understand rules). Then again maybe Zuckerberg is right. Silicon Valley is indeed an extremely left-leaning [alt-left?] place! So this is why conservatives are behind the 8-ball on a free speech social media platform.

The sad reality is that social media is policed by the left and authorities seem keen to exploit the powers that provides. The examples are too many. Controversial conservatives have been blocked, banned and restricted for the most spurious of reasons. Diamond & Silk are hardly a danger to society. It is almost comical to think that.  Yet aren’t the subscription rates/followers of particular sites indicative of the ‘moods’ of people? Could it be that black, conservative and Trump supporter must be mutually exclusive terms in the eyes of the left’s identikit forcing the Facebook apparatchiks to enforce a subjective shutdown? If a public explanation was provided it would probably just say, “trust our objectivity’. Whaaaat?

At some stage if enough people feel they are being played around with they will choose of their own volition to leave and seek their social media thrills on other platforms. Or will they? It maybe too late. Blatant exploitation of social media by governments looks like an obvious trend. If we are only too willing to give up our data and cede any visibility of the inner circle’s terms of use of it we are on a slippery slope of our own making. Think about how your mobile device allows you to be tracked whenever and however. It can turn your camera or microphone on. It can triangulate your whereabouts anywhere across the world. What you’ve read, listened to and watched. Where are the privacy laws surrounding this? Is your local rep fighting in your corner? Probably not.

Could private conversations with a lawyer (client-attorney privilege) be bugged and used as evidence? Don’t laugh. As an aerospace analyst many moons ago, teams of specialists with anti-bugging devices trawled through the suites of the aircraft manufacturers’ chalets to ensure the opposition didn’t get wind of negotiations with airlines they were both competing to win large orders from. Illegal in the extreme but seemingly exercised by all parties. It was an unwritten rule.

However social media censorship hides deeper problems. It is also increasingly a tool to shut down debate and people like London Mayor Sadiq Khan has met with social media execs to collude on cracking down on ‘hate speech’. Surely policing spurious claims of hate speech is a lesser issue to the immediate threat faced by a capitol which saw its murder rate surpass that of New York. Not so. This is the dangerous turn in social media. Not whether our data is used for targeted advertising for cheap flights but used to pillory, interrogate and shut down innocents. After all social media has a half-life of infinity.

Take the controversial figure Tommy Robinson in England. The UK authorities and media wish us to believe he is an unhinged far right wing bigoted racist thug. Yet despite all of the times he has been jailed (for mostly trumped up charges), silenced and muzzled for publicising what he sees as a major problem in his community (i.e. radical Islam), the growth in followers continues to rise on his Facebook page (706,000). Maybe the authorities should keep tabs on them? Arrest them on suspicion of potentially causing hate crimes. Surely they are cut from the same cloth as Tommy? Afterall it is better to arrest a comedian for teaching a dog to do a Nazi salute to annoy his partner as it is less controversial to the state than tackling real issues. Perhaps authorities should pay attention to why Robinson’s following is so large? It is irrelevant whether one finds his viewpoints offensive or not, a majority of over half a million clearly don’t. He is no saint and would be the first to admit it. Still the authorities are trying everything to shut him down. Social media is being used as a watchdog.

Robinson has two best selling books –  ‘Enemy of the State’ and ‘Mohammad’s Koran: Why Muslims kill for Islam’. Is that not evidence that there are more people than the authorities would care to admit to that actually concur with his assessment? Maybe some want to read it out of curiosity? However when many of those same people see an undercover scoop done by the left leaning publicly funded Channel 4 on the inner workings of one of England’s most conservative mosques, praised by politicians as they true face of a peaceful religion. Even though the mosque had promised to clamp down on radical imams, the documentary revealed that despite assurances to government authorities, teachers still encourage students to believe that the only remedy for gays and apostates is to be killed. So maybe Robinson’s followers aren’t as fringe or minor in number as we would be made to believe? With the widespread outing of child grooming gangs across the UK, maybe Brits have had enough of the political hand wringing over politically correct discourse. The more the movement is pushed underground the harder it will be to stop vigilantism. We’ve already seen signs of it emerging. Think of the Guardian Angels in NY during the crime waves in the 1979.

What the Zuckerberg testimony brings to the surface is yet another example made clear to the public of the two tier dispensing of free speech. What worries the public more is that justice seems to be operating under the exact same framework. What the Channel 4 programme exposed with respect to blatant hate speech is incontrovertible. Yet will authorities arrest, charge and jail them as they would a Tommy Robinson? Not a chance. To encourage the murder of people that aren’t part of an ideology can’t be viewed as anything other than a willful threat.  Will the judiciary demand that scholars have their pages scrubbed from social media?

The shoes are on the wrong foot. Earlier this year, Austrian conservative Martin Sellner and his girlfriend Brittany Pettibone were arrested on arrival in the UK, detained and deported. Sellner for wanting to deliver a speech at Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park (later delivered by Robinson) and Pettibone for wanting to interview Tommy Robinson (which he later conducted in Vienna). Neither look in the least bit dangerous. In this case, social media backfired on the state. In both cases, the public once again saw the double standards and the pervasive political posturing to beat the ‘controllable’ element into submission. Just as it is easier for the police to fine speeding motorists than actively pursue solid leads on catching grooming gangs the public rightly grows increasingly livid. Social media is being used more widely as a policing tool, with negative connotations. It isn’t just being used to foil terror plots but stomp on the rights of the average citizen.

Still there is some sympathy for Zuckerberg in that many people volunteered their information. If it was used in ways that violated ethical and more importantly legal rights it only goes to prove that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. To that end, can we really expect lawmakers to cramp their own style when Zuckerberg has only highlighted how powerful the information he possesses can be used to sucker us more than they already do. That is the real crime we are seemingly becoming powerless to stop. Talk about the real Big Brother!

What Australia’s authorities can learn from Germany’s extremist boom

8169EDE1-EFF5-4112-8799-2CAF43D3EB02.jpeg

Of course the easiest thing to do is label the Melbourne-based True Blue Crew (TBC) a bunch of racist bigots. It’s members view themselves as patriotic vigilantes. TBC is a group filling the void left wide open by the politically correct who in its mind are glossing over the things that matter to everyday Australians. One can debate their motives til the cows come home but growing numbers suggest that the political class is not responding. Germany is seeing a similar wave of vigilante behavior. Is it any wonder that Merkel is struggling to form a coalition with the surge in the AfD party to 14% of the vote. One Nation is at 10%. Notice a trend?

TBC, according to its Facebook page is planning to meet and then march through the streets of Melbourne to protest a “lack of action by the courts”  They have a point. An opinion piece in The Australian this week highlighted this leniency:

When it comes to sentencing, the courts take a sensitive approach. Ibrahim Kamara, from Sierra Leone, received a suspended sentence of just over one year, with an 18-month good ­behaviour order, after admitting to five counts, including grooming and having sex with a minor. The ACT Supreme Court judge said “(Kamara) has tried to make a good start on his life in Australia”.

In NSW, an Islamic sect leader was the first person in Australia to be imprisoned over the genital mutilation of two sisters aged six and seven. Notwithstanding a 21 years maximum, the leader ­received 11 months’ jail, while his two accessories will serve a minimum of 11 months’ home detention. This sets a derisory bench­mark for future sentencing….Judges have become politicians in robes and, like the police and other unelected authorities, selectively administer the law according to their prejudices.

Ironically, as much as the police and political class downplay the extent of  “African crime gangs”, “radical Islamic terrorism” or “FGM” the hardware suggests otherwise. We have “Public Order & Riot Squad” emblazoned across police cars in NSW and police officers are decked out in full para-military kit including M-4 automatic assault rifles, a superior weapon to that used by the Australian Infantry. These riot cars and machine guns didn’t exist 10 years ago. While we’re told all is well, the preventative materiel speaks volumes of the concerns within. The only problem is that the voting public is not that stupid that it doesn’t notice the hardware.

TBC also plans in the 2nd part [of the meeting] to take a stand on the streets which it claims “isn’t for the PC (politically correct) so keep that in mind. PC is not going to stop people’s houses being invaded, innocent people being attacked etc.”

Why are we surprised at such groups springing up? Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Interior (BfV) updated its factbook on the explosion in left and right wing groups and the rise of Salafists at home. To summarize:

In 2016, the BKA (Federal Criminal Police Office) registered 41,549 offences in the category of politically motivated crime, an increase of 29% over the 2014 figure.

Right wing extremist party membership has risen from 22,600 in 2015 to 23,100 in 2016.

1,600 (2015: 1,408) registered cases, the number of violent criminal offences with a right-wing extremist background increased by 13.6%. At 1,190, the number of violent crimes directed at foreigners (2015: 918) was the highest since the current definition of politically motivated crime was introduced in 2001. The number of violent crimes against actual or supposed left-wing extremists (250; 2015: 252) remained about the same. The number of violent offences against other political opponents fell significantly (34; 2015: 82).

Left wing extremist party membership has risen from 26,700 in 2015 to 28,500 in 2016.

In 2016, 5,230 criminal offences were classified as left-wing politically motivated crimes with an extremist background (2015: 5,620), of which 1,201 were violent crimes (2015: 1,608). The number of violent criminal offences with a left-wing extremist background that were directed against the police and security authorities significantly decreased to 687 (2015: 1,032) and is gradually returning to the level of 2014. The number of violent criminal offences against actual or supposed right-wing extremists also decreased to 542 (2015: 833). The number of violent crimes in the context of campaigns against restructuring more than tripled in 2016 (2015: 54, 2016: 188).

Islamic Extremists

Salafist movements in Germany have risen from 8,350 in 2015 to 9,700 in 2016 with the BfV noting on the whole, that all Islamist following in 2016 amounted to approximately 24,400 individuals, slightly down over 2015. BfV did note

Although this total number is smaller than in the previous years, the threat situation has not at all eased. On the contrary: the shift towards a violence-oriented/terrorist spectrum has revealed a new dimension of the Islamist scene, which was also illustrated by the attacks carried out in Germany in 2016However, Salafism in Germany enjoys undiminished popularity. Its continuous attractiveness shows the importance of Salafism being subject to a debate in society as a whole and of intelligence collection carried out by the community of the German domestic intelligence services. This is even more significant as adherents of the jihadist tendency of Salafism not only reject the West – symbolised by the free democratic basic order – but also actively fight against it: either by travelling to so-called jihad areas or by mounting attacks in the West.”

In the area of politically motivated crime by foreigners, 2,566 offences with an extremist background were registered (2015: 1,524), including 427 violent offences (2015: 235). The total number of criminal offences in this category thus increased by 68.4%, the number of violent crimes even by 81.7%. In 2016, there were two homicides and 13 attempted homicides by foreigners with an extremist background (2015: three).

Limp wristed rhetoric and responses (this town hall meeting in Germany is a good example) by officials is a large part of the problem for the rise of such groups. When people feel marginalized and ignored for long enough they will take matters into their own hands. It is not a question of whether groups like TBC are right or wrong in their approach to street justice but law enforcement risks having the problem blow up in their face because few in the political class are willing to tell it how it is.

Is Tommy Robinson in the minority with a #2 rank book on Amazon?

IMG_0711.PNG

There is no moral equivalence to be drawn here with this latest attack outside Finsbury mosque in London. Innocent people were mown down by a van driven by someone filled with rage and hate. Social media is already screaming “bigot, racist, terrorist, anti-Muslim, radical” but there is a much bigger point not being addressed. The social boiling point is being reached much more rapidly than the media will admit.  Tommy Robinson was accused across social media for inspiring anti-Muslim rhetoric and fueling this person to commit the crime. His tweets matched his long standing convictions and predictions. Perhaps everyone who has bought Tommy’s book “Enemy of the State”  (ranked #2 book on Amazon UK, #131 in Canada and #2375 in America & now $350 on paperback) could be a risk of commiting such acts if that is the generalization. Of course it is nonsense. By the measure of the sales success perhaps his views maybe more mainstream than the negative ‘extreme’ moniker that is often hurled at him.

Could it be argued that a growing number of people are growing sick and tired of random jihadi attacks and see this book as a guide on how the government isn’t  handling the problem? That was not a intended to be a fact checking laced comment rather pointing out that many people potentially share his supposed ‘patriotic’ view as demonstrated by the commerciality of his writing. This is no longer a pure jihadi problem but one that is now likely to become tit-for-tat terrorism which carries far more negative connotations.

Think beyond the all too common propensity to push prejudices by lashing out on social media with little thought to trying to understand the full arguments of alternative views. Do we take a book review from apologists as fact when most of those have probably never read his book cover to cover? I am reading it because I want to form my own judgement rather than rely on others’ bias. He has strong views but no better way than self vetting. I’ve read Mein Kampf in what must be the most appalling book ever written – grammatically and content-wise. For one whose family escaped the deaths camps of Poland, trying to understand the ravings of Hitler brought added perspective to the horror although some might conclude reading it is an endorsement. It is not.

Innocents are dead or injured in this attack on Fisnbury Park Mosque. If indeed Tommy has a minority view, most people wouldn’t buy his book. Are all the people that buy it racist? Even if one thinks they are then even more reason to say that the government’s current pandering to political correctness won’t solve these hate fueled events whether radical jihadis or right (left?) wing nutters. Do violent video games incite massacres? Are all ‘Brexiters’ a carbon copy of the man who murdered Labour politician Jo Cox days before the referendum?  Do we need to bring in Islamophobic legislation like Canada (Bill M-103) to shut down people expressing concern? No, No and No. Current policy approaches are having the opposite effect as this attack proves.

At the time of the Manchester bombing I warned that vigilantism would be an ugly side effect of endless political correctness. Coincidentally Robinson suggested similar views about the rise of vigilantes after that post in a vlog. Wasting a lot of time on what  motivated the driver to commit such a terrible crime is not necessary. It is obvious. It is a revenge attack. This is highly likely to be a person screaming out for something to be done about a problem he obviously doesn’t think is being handled properly by elected officials. He probably viewed himself as a vigilante even if that title might be an overreach in this instance.  This in no way defends his despicable actions. One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter was often used by IRA sympathisers. Still it doesn’t in anyway condone killing or maiming innocents, no matter what ideology, faith, race or background they come from. It is plain awful. The majority of people would agree with that view.

Revenge attacks and reprisals only exacerbate a rapidly deteriorating relationship. However trying to say the perpetrator proves that not all such attacks are driven by radical Islam doesn’t address the core of the problem. The majority of good people (note a deliberate statement not to go down the identity politics line) want an end to innocent deaths at the hands of extremists but if free speech and the ability to tackle radicalism (wherever it lies) aren’t openly addressed these events will sadly continue. It should be totally in the interests of the majority of ‘good’ Muslims (I detest that phraseology) to want to stop radicals from collectivising their faith with what they perceive is the wrong interpretation. Common sense would say they are the most important link in the chain to weed out those who want to kill in the name of Allah. They need to be front and centre of the debate.

What the UK government (and other governments) have created is a monster of their own making. Candles, flowers, lit monuments, avatars, expressions of sympathy and ‘love conquers hate’ posts dodge the need to have a serious debate on the problem. Now we have seen first hand a real openly targeted revenge attack in the UK, people need less sanctimonious posturing on social media and focus their energies on truly understanding what is at stake. That is to ditch the liberal hand-wringing and have an open debate on the problem. Robinson’s book isn’t selling in the volumes it is by chance. Politicians should pay attention to this trend. It is not about arguing about whether he is right or wrong but noting the simmering underbelly of a growing number of people fed up with inaction. This is the end of the beginning not the beginning of the end.