Outliers Versus the Bigs

Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot      November 27, 2020

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Outliers Versus the Bigs
Photo courtesy of KPCC, 89.3 FM, Southern California Public Radio American journalist, author, and constitutional law and civil rights litigator, Glen Greenwald is best known for a series of reports for The Guardian and The Washington Post, partly based on top secret documents about global surveillance leaked by ex-NSA contractor Edward Snowden in
I have always had a soft spot for outliers. I have lived my life closely with people who think and act outside of the Bell Curve. As challenging as that location on the social scale can be for those individuals, they are, most often, the source of real innovation, accomplishment, and change. Hackers are high on the list of outliers that fascinate me. I think they are the hope we have in what I call “The Battle with Bigness,” a battle I hope we win. Futurists take a long view of events. Right now, half the country is living in a parallel reality with the other half. If we don’t get this straightened out, the world our young ones will inherit will be the undemocratic oligarchy the United States is becoming. Political discourse has lost its place among friends, family, and neighbors. It has become like zealously spewed religious dogma spread, purposely or innocently, through misleading tweets and posts. Whatever side of the aisle you support, you must see how dangerous the power of social media has become to the future of our republic. Pulling the strings of information flow in this country are now just a handful of oligarchs who happen to be outliers that got very, very rich very, very young. They are very, very smart, but not at all wise. These “entrepreneurs” have taken the early pristine internet, which was supposed to act as an open source public utility (It was so beautiful), and grown themselves into some of the most greedy, amoral, manipulative, and sinister industries in the history of the world. BRIEF HISTORY OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ELECTIONS What has happened to our elections began with Obama’s campaign. Instead, an international graduate business school reports, “In his bid to help Barack Obama become the 44th President of the United States, social activist Scott Goodstein spearheaded the use of new social networking and mobile media platforms that harnessed technological innovations to expand the audience base for the Obama campaign. To capture hearts and minds, Goodstein oversaw the development of the Obama campaign’s social networking platforms, including niche social networks that catered to different ethnic groups, and targeting popular mainstream platforms such as Google, Facebook, Hulu.com, Twitter, and YouTube.” Using Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” the Obama campaign targeted groups based on race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc., the basic Balkanization technique of getting people herded into groups to form a power base. Learning from the Obama campaign, Donald Trump’s team in 2016 upped the use of Facebook and Twitter. Trump was able to spend less money than his opponents and win, because he was a “master of social media.” He was able to engage the public directly, giving voice to what turned out to be disenfranchised millions of voters. Facebook sold fifty million profiles to the Trump campaign which were harvested for data. The users were then targeted for pro-Trump, anti-Clinton ads. Moreover, Trump’s legendary use of Twitter enabled him to go around the media and speak directly to the people and hear directly back from them, giving them a great feeling of empowerment. Without Zuckerberg’s or Dorsey’s companies, it would not have been possible. So, first the Democrats pioneered the use of social media in modern elections, then the Republicans caught up and passed them, and that brings us to now: A country at war with itself, which is stupid, because we are the luckiest people on earth, and we are letting companies who are richer than any companies in the history of the world screw us over for their obscene profits regardless of civil rights and human costs. FROM CHINA TO THE UNITED STATES What Facebook, Twitter and the rest do to capture market shares in China is to cooperate with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) by agreeing to censor news. They, also, as they do here in the U.S., harvest personal data from citizens and sell it. That information in China is used for surveillance and to establish “social credit.” People with low social credit scores are put on a blacklist. They cannot purchase “luxury” items like plane tickets, be hired by businesses, or be accepted in schools. Time magazine reports, “In certain areas of China, call a blacklisted person on the phone and you will hear a siren and recorded message saying: “Warning, this person is on the blacklist. Be careful and urge them to repay their debts.” When a blacklisted person crosses certain intersections in Beijing, facial-recognition technology projects their face and ID number on massive electronic billboards.” Pretty spooky. The 2020 election in the United States was the most dramatic turn in social media influence here yet. Civil rights activists like Leo Terrell and Allan Dershowitz had apoplexy. Even Bill Maher, who is uber left, said, “It seems to me the country has gotten itself into quite the pickle. We’ve allowed the national conversation to be hosted by private companies that have decided they should determine whose voices are heard. And it’s getting worse. If we remain on the same platforms, and they continue to pick and choose, we’re headed toward an America we should never want to be.” Glen Greenwald, an American journalist, author, and constitutional law and civil rights litigator, just left Intercept because they censored an article he had written on Joe Biden. Mr. Alternative himself! And, seriously, folks, trying to get information to write this article was not easy, because the search engines filtered the results in a way very biased against the spirit of this article. Kim Sengkupta, writing for Independent.co.uk, reports, “Industrial-scale spreading of disinformation; manipulating elections; undermining democratic institutions; and orchestrating racial and sectarian strife have become potent weapons of modern hybrid warfare.” Which all brings me back to my beloved hackers. These world-wide outliers have an honest love of freedom. An international Rebellion Force is emerging at this very moment. The “Elves” in Lithuania are a group of watchful volunteers who have recruited an international force of thousands to help stem disinformation. Help is on the way, from the outliers. Look here next time for more about the emerging warriors of “The Rebellion,” this great, growing citizen force. You’ll be hearing a lot about them in the coming months. Meanwhile, remember: before the puppet masters got so much power, we used to have elections and love each other. We still can. Vamos a ver!
Paula Labrot

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November 27, 2020

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