Friday, November 23, 2018


   Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:
(Friday Church News Notes, November 23, 2018,,, 866-295-4143) - The following is excerpted from “The Facebook Dilemma,” part one, Frontline PBS, Oct. 29, 2018: “Zeynep Tufekci, of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, observes, ‘What Facebook does is profile you. If you are on Facebook, it is collecting everything you do. If you are off Facebook, it is using tracking pixels to collect what you are browsing. And for its micro-targeting to work, for its business model to work, it has to remain a surveillance machine.’ From 2012-2015, Rand Waltzman and his colleagues at the U.S. Department of Defense published more than 200 academic papers and reports about the threats they were seeing from social media. Waltzman says, ‘The concern was that social media could be used for really nefarious purposes. The opportunities for disinformation, for deception, for everything else, are enormous. Bad guys, or anyone else, could use this for any kind of purpose in a way that wasn’t possible before. That’s the concern. [The potential threat of people giving up their data] is that they are opening themselves up for being targets for manipulation. I can manipulate you to buy something. I can manipulate you to vote for somebody. It is like putting a big target on yourself and saying, “Here I am; come and manipulate me. I’ve given you everything you need. Have at it.” That’s the threat. What I saw over the years of the program was that the medium enables you to really take disinformation and turn it into a serious weapon. When you look at how it works, you see the opportunities for mass manipulation. People are easily misled, if you do it the right way. For example, when you see people forming into communities, I can exploit that to craft my message so that it resonates most exactly with that community. And I can do that for every single community. It would be pretty easy to set up a fake account, and large numbers of fake accounts, embedded in different communities, and use them to disseminate propaganda. It’s a serious weapon, because it is an enormous scale. It’s the scale that makes it a weapon.’ Dmytro Shymkiv, adviser to the president of Ukraine, 2014-2018, describes the propaganda center that was set up in St. Petersburg, Russia, called the Internet Research Agency, which has poured out disinformation to fight the anti-Russian government in Ukraine. ‘Russian propaganda against the Ukrainian government was massive on social media. There were so many stories that started emerging on Facebook. ... They scared people. ... They planted a story that Ukrainian soldiers had crucified a child, which is totally nonsense. It was proven that the people telling the story of the crucifixion were actually hired actors. So Facebook was weaponized. [Just as in the Arab Spring, Facebook was being used to flame division. But now by groups working in behalf of a foreign power, using Facebook’s tools built to help advertisers boost their content.] By that time in Facebook, you could pay money to promote these stories so your stories emerge on the top lines. You immediately get media response. You can test all kinds of nonsense and understand which nonsense people do not believe and to which nonsense people start believing which will influence the persons receptive to propaganda. And then provoking that person to certain action.’ [After Shymkiv met with Facebook executives and asked them to intervene, the response was,] ‘Sorry, we are an open platform; anyone can do anything within our policy, which is written on the website. We will think about this, but you know we have freedom of speech and we are a very pro-democracy platform; everybody can say anything.’” 
  Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational and research purposes:
(Friday Church News Notes, November 23, 2018,,, 866-295-4143) - The following is excerpted from Jay Richards, “What’s the Difference?” The Stream, Aug. 7, 2017: “Too many of us are still clueless about socialism and communism. I blame biased media and fuzzy thinking. ... Still, sometimes, the truth leaks out. Last year, The Washington Post published a long piece by Ilya Somin. It’s about the ‘greatest mass murderer’ in the world. ... Guess who wins that grim prize. ... It’s Mao Zedong, the leader of China’s communist revolution. ‘From 1958 to 1962,’ Somin notes, ‘his Great Leap Forward policy led to the deaths of up to 45 million people--easily making it the biggest episode of mass murder ever recorded.’ Let that sink in. In under five years, a government led by one man murdered 45 million of its own people. Scholars have long known the basic stats. But historian Frank Dik├Âtter has shown [Mao’s Great Famine, 2011] that the number is larger than previously thought. And many more of the deaths were deliberate, rather than ‘just’ the outcome of bad policies that led to famine. Millions were tortured to death, often for minor crimes like digging up a potato. ... Lots of people seem to think ‘communism’ just means ‘bad socialism.’ But that ignores the meanings of words and Marxist theory itself ... Here’s a brief primer: Marx and his disciples claimed that ‘capitalism’ must give way to ‘socialism,’ where private property would be abolished and an all-powerful state would own everything on behalf of the people. That’s what Marx meant by the word socialism, and that’s the main dictionary definition. This was only supposed to be a stage, though, not the end of all our strivings. At some point, under socialism, people would lose their silly fondness for property, family, religion, and other evils. A ‘new socialist man’ would emerge and then the state would ‘wither away.’ Everyone would enjoy peace, prosperity, and the brotherhood of man. Marx and his acolytes called that final, stateless paradise ‘communism.’ Here’s the point: Those regimes led by mass murderers with their gulags, death camps, man-made famines and killing fields were socialist. That’s not slander. It’s what these countries called themselves. USSR stood for the ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.’ You gotta break millions of eggs with socialism to make the communist omelet. ... That was sort of the theory anyway. In practice, socialism has just been evil. Unremitting evil, wherever it’s tried. Have a look at North Korea and now Venezuela. Socialism doesn’t lead to a higher plane of existence or a stateless utopia. It leads to a bottomless pit of immorality, poverty, and death. Why would we expect anything different? It’s based on a false view of human nature, history, labor, property, economic value, capital, and the role of prices.”