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Why Worry About Political Ad Pinocchios With @Jack Dorsey’s Twitter BotNet Apps?

November 15, 2019 Comments off

Cancelling political ads that tread on (or even trample…or even incinerate) someone’s truth are all the rage.  Having skimmed the cream from political ad revenue, Twitter has announced it is banning political ads to great fanfare–after the cow escaped from the barn.  (What this “ban” actually means in practice remains to be seen.)  Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said he would announce the policy today, although I haven’t seen it yet as of this writing.  (Almost sounds like…a publisher…don’t it?)

This banning announcement came directly from Jack in a series of platitudinous Tweets, one of which was particularly eye catching:

Jack Dorsey Pol Ads

What Twitter did not tell you is that while they may take a hit on revenue from dropping political ads and they feel great about preserving democracy, bot farming is alive and well on Twitter.  Let’s take two examples of apps that permit bot nets based on rules established by Twitter for this purpose.

Phone2Action

Phone2Action is a private for-profit company that has raised millions in the private VC market.  The company creates “civic engagement” tools used by some progressive campaigns and nonprofits, but also used by Big Tech for “grass roots” organizing.  In fact, the head of the Consumer Technology Association (remember him?) is closely tied to Phone2Action.

phone2action gary shapiro

“Civic engagement” by a corporation is also called “lobbying” in some circles.  David Lowery has some excellent research on why this “civic engagement” looks fake (a la the European Copyright Directive debacle that backfired on Google’s use of similar tools), but suffice it to say there’s some oddities about how Phone2Action pulls off this “civic engagement,” and their Twitter app is one of them.

These campaigns center around sending messages to elected officials with the client messaging and also some call-in apps that allow anyone from anywhere in the world to call elected officials in their country or another country to lobby on the client’s message.

Boaty

The call-in app has some spooky implications highlighted by that sturdy Scot Boaty McBoatface when demonstrating a similar fake call-in campaign from Fight for the Future:

 

Note–if Boaty hadn’t told Rand Paul’s office he was calling from Scotland, Sen. Paul’s office could have gotten the misapprehension that Boaty was a constituent.  You get the idea.

Take a close look at the permissions that Phone2Action requires from users of its app on Twitter:

P2A TWITTTER annotated

Call me cynical, but when I read these permissions they seem far beyond tweeting something like “I called my Member of Congress”.  It’s more like someone gets the ability to manipulate your own Twitter account without your knowing it is happening.  We’ve seen things like this in the past produce results like this disproportionate number of likes (from the European Copyright Directive):

Bot 4 1-5-19

Bots 14-2-19 Edited

So even if Jack thinks that he will get lots of praise for cancelling political ads on Twitter, as long as he allows for-profit companies to create botnets to lobby for their interests, that ain’t nothing compared to twitter bots he allows to masquerade as true grassroots.

TikTok

Not only does Jack allow Phone2Action to monetize bot farms on Twitter, he let’s TikTok do the same.  This is another element of the national security investigation into TikTok or should be.  Here’s the identical Twitter permissions granted by everyone using the TikTok app for Twitter:

TikTok Twitter

Again, Twitter allows TikTok to have extraordinary access to your Twitter account, just like Phone2Action.  And if you think the Chinese government doesn’t have access to your data, ask Jack Ma who really owns Alibaba.

So here’s a few questions that immediately come to mind:  How much does Twitter charge for this level of access?  Who gets the data?  How much of the data scraped from users and the “look alikes” (who you follow and who follows you) is sold and resold and to whom?

And of course, which messages are they sending out in your Twitter account?  One that relates to the campaign you originally signed up for?  Or something completely unrelated?

We’re way past political ads now.

 

Google and Clear Channel Send Their Shills Out for IRFA Lobby Fest

October 25, 2012 Comments off

So we were wondering how long this would take, and it took no time at all.  Not only do you have Pandora’s Tim Westergren shilling for Clear Channel, you now have Google shills the Computer and Communications Industry Association (funders of several bizarre “studies”), the Digital Media Association and the Consumer Electronics Association, all coming to the party.

Yes, all these wankers have come together in the “Internet Radio Fairness Coalition” and why?  According to their press release, “Internet Radio Fairness Coalition Launches to Help Accelerate Growth and Innovation in Internet Radio To Benefit Artists, Consumers and the Recording Industry“.

Ah, of course.  Trickle down innovation, led by Mr. Million a Month, Tim Westergren.  Well–after what Pandora’s stock did today (trading was halted), not so much.  Tim probably won’t be clearing $1 million a month if that keeps up, bless his heart.

Let’s be clear about something:  Google hates the music business.  The Computer and Communications Industry Association hates the music business.  The Consumer Electronics Association hates the music business–especially the head of the CEA, Gary Shapiro who really loathes the music business.

And let’s also be clear about something else:  Tim Westergren is not your friend.  Maybe he was once, but he has sold his soul, he has picked his side and he is taking his stand.  And it’s not with you.

Westergren is with The Man 2.0 and on the side of the money.  And they want to take your money.

So heads up artists:  The fight is on.  All these people intend to make sure you are screwed, blued and tattooed if you let them. They are out to eat your lunch.  This is not a dog whistle, it is a battle cry.  They mean to run us over.

If you let them. Who will stand up to them?  And as the man said, if not now, then when?  If not here, then where?  If not us, then who?  Our cause is just and the time is now.

Who will take a stand?

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