HOW TO WIN AN EPIC ANTI-CORRUPTION BATTLE ON BEHALF OF AMERICAN CITIZENS
A group of domestic citizens filed FBI complaints and lawsuits against White House and government agency senior staff and their Silicon Valley oligarch financiers including a lawsuit against a rogue, dirty tricks, off-shoot of the CIA called "In-Q-Tel".
These citizens instigated Congressional corruption investigations and hearings against the most senior members of the State and Federal government. These actions resulted in the termination of very famous public officials including the Secretary of Energy, his staff, White House Executives and more. The case broke-up some of their crony criminal embezzlement scams. It nearly resulted in the President being forced to leave office, mid-term, based on revelations of a massive crony stock market kick-back scheme which began to be exposed after the FBI raid of Solyndra. The director of the FBI was fired for assisting in cover-ups related to this matter because the matter was reported directly to him.
This natural-born, American, domestic group of engineers was attacked with a $30 million dollar+ (per uncovered billing notices) retribution/political reprisal program contracted by White House political operatives, and their appointees, who were also the business competitors of the engineers.
The attackers used Fusion GPS-type character assassination smear campaigns (operated by their cronies at Google, Gawker, Gizmodo, Jalopnik and Facebook), NVCA black-listing, Solyndra-laundering, stone-walling, Lois Lerner-class agency manipulation and search engine rigging. In-Q-Tel turns out to be the only federally financed "charity" whose staff are also employed by each of the suspects in this case and who financed the suspects in this case. It was revealed that White House executives ordered government agencies to harm members of the public and to reprisal with-hold public resources from the public. This was a violation of tort, RICO and anti-trust laws.
The citizens had previously been awarded federal commendations, state and federal innovation grants, government R&D contracts and knew White House and Congressional executives personally. They know "where the bodies are buried".
The citizen-victims fought back.
With the encouragement of members of Congress they used 100% legal tools to interdict the corruption.
Essentially; they helped the United States government sue itself!
First, with a unique new kind of pioneering federal lawsuit, victims established — FOR THE FIRST TIME IN LEGAL HISTORY — that political cronyism is a valid basis for a claim of arbitrary-and-capricious agency action under the Administrative Procedure Act. See: Federal Case One, (D.D.C. 2015).
Second, they prevailed in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on their appeal of the district court’s ruling that an agency may escape judicial review of its action by requesting a voluntary remand but refusing to reconsider its initial denial of an application. See: Case Federal Two, (D.C. Cir. 2017). The Washington DC Circuit agreed with the victims that an agency may only seek a remand if it promises to reconsider its initial decision. It is because of that victory that the government, under court order is now re-doing the victims applications and GAO, FBI, IG's and Congressional oversight offices are watching to assure effective ethics and transparency.
Third, these cases placed, on permanent public record, one of the most detailed documentation sets, ever assembled, about how modern political "Dark Money" conduits operate. The legal team hired ex-FBI, CIA and SEC experts to track down covert bank accounts, revolving door bribes, insider stock trades and other payola between the victim's competitors and public officials. This documentation now prevents the use of those kinds of criminal efforts, in the future, by exposing their tactics to the public.
Fourth, the victim's team engaged in the interdiction and termination of corrupt agency executives, contractors and their financiers. This included some of the most well-known names in Washington, DC, at the time. Many of them were, and are still being, investigated and surveilled by the FBI, GAO, SEC and Congress.
Fifth, and most important, the effort put every corrupt political scheme on notice that they WILL be found out and interdicted!
The bottom line?
The victims group WON on every single aspect of their public-interest goals but still have yet to be recompensed for their damages! They continue to fight for their Constitutional rights and the payment of their damages and benefits fro the government.
They have won over and over while the opposition keeps getting fired, arrested, investigated and exposed in national news documentaries!
Now the "bad guys" have less options to engage in the corruption of our Democracy!
You're Welcome, America!
These co-workers witnessed politicians and Silicon Valley oligarchs (sometimes called "The Deep State") stealing money from both: 1.) Their company and 2.) the US Government Treasury and handing it to Elon Musk and their other insider friends. They reported it to the authorities.
The crime turned out to be part of one of the biggest embezzlement crimes ever exposed. Major political figures and tech "bosses" turned out to be running a "PayPal Tech Mafia". The bad guys then began hunting them down and attacking them in reprisal "for the rest of our lives" per their threats and their ongoing retribution vendettas.
It was found that famous senators, their Silicon Valley oligarch financiers and their associates run an organized crime insider trading scam that abuses taxpayers and sabotages competing businesses. The terminations of the heads of the FBI, The Department of Energy and other famous people in politics is because of their operation, and cover-ups, of this case. The cover-ups are still going on. The Wenstein, Epstein and related cases show, though, that cover-ups never last.
Now, over 300 million potential voters can "crowd-source" join the forensic efforts to expose, shame, dox, bankrupt, boycott and 100% legally exterminate the corrupt entities who did these illicit things by using our Democracy as their billionaire's plaything.
Hundreds of the perpetrators have already been fired, placed under permanent public surveillance, financially tracked through every asset, reported to federal agencies and targeted for investigation. The goal is to interdict every single person, company and political operative group who is engaging in these crimes using crowd-sourced investigation and intelligence tools.
This is a large part of all of that "political corruption" and "dirty Dark Money" politics you read about in the newspaper every day.
If you thought that Mossack Fonseca and the Panama Papers was "The Story": IT WAS ONLY THE BEGINNING!
A key part of one of the testimony statements reads: "...SILICON VALLEY'S POLITICIANS MAKE POLICY THAT, BOTH, RUINS TAXPAYERS WHILE MAKING THE POLITICIANS RICH BY ARTIFICIALLY INFLATING THE VALUE OF THE POLITICIANS SECRET STOCK MARKET HOLDINGS. NOW WE ARE EXPOSING THEIR ENTIRE SCAM!
THIS IS ABOUT THE U.S. SENATORS AND THEIR CRONY DARK MONEY POLITICAL BRIBES AND CRIMINAL KICK-BACKS, THE TECH OLIGARCHS WHO DEPLOYED THE BRIBES AND THE VICTIMS OF THESE CRIMES.
IMAGINE LIVING IN A WORLD WHERE ALMOST EVERY ONE OF THE PUBLIC OFFICIALS THAT WERE SUPPOSED TO HELP YOU TURNED OUT TO BE YOUR BUSINESS COMPETITORS. IMAGINE HAVING THEM USE GOVERNMENT RESOURCES TO PROFIT AT YOUR EXPENSE, BLOCKADE YOU AND TREAT DEMOCRACY LIKE A GARAGE SALE! THIS IS THAT STORY!..."
Google, Tesla, Facebook, Linkedin and their VC's (and deeply bribed Senators) operated hit-jobs on the public and their competitors, supported by the Obama White House and U.S. Dept. of Energy.
This is about a group of tech oligarchs, and their corrupt Senators, who commit crimes in order to manipulate over a trillion tax dollars (YOUR MONEY) into their, and their friends pockets.
They are felons yet they control some of the offices of the agencies who are supposed to arrest them. Silicon Valley bought K Street and U.S. Senators, gave them more Dark Money than history has ever seen and then had giant tech-law firms bribe, hit-job and blockade any attempts to solve the problem.
Some of the largest bribes in American history were paid via billions of dollars of pre-IPO cleantech stock, insider trading, real estate, Google search engine rigging and shadow-banning, sex workers, revolving door jobs, nepotism, state-supported black-listing of competitors and under-the-table cash. Why are these Silicon Valley Oligarchs and their K-Street law firms and lobbyists immune from the law?
U.S. Senators, Agency Heads and Congress were bribed with:
- Billions of dollars of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix and Sony Pictures stock and stock warrants which is never reported to the FEC
- Billions of dollars of Google, Twitter, Facebook, Tesla, Netflix and Sony Pictures search engine rigging including shadow-banning, de-boosting, DNS re-routing, directed search suggestion, subliminal messaging bias, and hundreds of other psychological manipulation tricks; the value of which is never reported to the FEC but proven by invoices and bank payments between Google and Gawker, Gizmodo, DNC, Fusion GPS, Black Cube, etc.
- Free rent
- Prostitutes and Rent Boys
- Party Financing
- Sports Event Tickets
- Campaign Services "Donations"
- Secret PAC Financing
- Jobs in Corporations in Silicon Valley For The Family Members of Those Who Take Bribes And Those Who Take Bribes, Themselves
- "Consulting" contracts from McKinsey as fronted pay-off gigs
- Overpriced "Speaking Engagements" which are really just pay-offs conduited for donors
- Private jet rides and use of Government fuel depots (ie: Google handed out NASA jet fuel to staff)
- Real Estate
- The use of Cayman, Boca Des Tores, Swiss and related laundering accounts
- The use of HSBC, Wells Fargo and Deustche Bank money laundering accounts
- Free spam and bulk mailing services owned by corporations
- Use of high tech law firms such as Perkins Coie, Wilson Sonsini, MoFo, Covington & Burling, etc. to conduit bribes to officials
Investigators were able to get a law produced that made insider trading
less attractive for Congress, nothing has been done to stop stock warrant
bribes and revolving door payola. Additionally, even with the new law, 60%
of the U.S. Congress (including their associates and families) STILL
engage in insider trading because law enforcement has not prosecuted many
This is about a group of U.S. Senators, Silicon Valley Oligarchs, Crooked Law Firms and Lobbyists who commit crimes in order to manipulate over a trillion tax dollars into their, and their friends pockets. They use media monopoly tricks to try to shut out any other viewpoints. They push pretend issues that they believe will get more tax money allocated to "issue solutions" that they, and their friends, happen to already own the monopolies for. They are felons yet they control some of the offices of the agencies who are supposed to arrest them. Silicon Valley bought K Street lobby firms and U.S. Senators, gave them more Dark Money than history has ever seen and then had giant tech-law firms bribe, hit-job and blockade any attempts to arrest them.
You can verify the facts yourself at these links:
Associated FBI, SEC, FTC, GAO, And Congressional Ethics Committee Case Files Database Search Keywords For Their Criminal Case Files On This Case: “Elon Musk”, “Solyndra”, “Rare Earth Mining Scam”, Tesla Motors”, “Steven Chu”, “Afghan Mining”, “Jeffrey Epstein”, “Flashboy Aglorithms”, “Silicon Valley Anti-Trust”, “UraniumOne”, “The Silicon Valley No Poaching Lawsuit”, “AngelGate”,“frank guistra”, “Raj Gupta”, “Nicholas Guido Denton”, “Larry Page Tax Evasion”, “Fusion GPS” and other case file database search keywords to be provided...
Links To Third-Party Evidence Files Proving Each And Every Assertion:
Said one victim: "They had the U.S. Government hire us, paid us part of our money, then asked us to spend our life savings and years of our time on their federal project based on their lies and false-promises. Then they took the assets we were asked to invest, plus the money they owed us, and gave it to their friends. When we complained to the FBI, Congress and the SEC, they hired Fusion GPS-like companies to run "hit-jobs" on us and threaten our lives. WE WERE LIED TO AND DEFRAUDED BY GOVERNMENT AGENCIES. THEY TOOK OUR MONEY AND USED US, AND OUR PEERS, AS A SMOKE-SCREEN TO HIDE THEIR CRONY PAYOLA CRIME THAT PUT TAXPAYER CASH IN THEIR FRIEND'S POCKETS...We have received ZERO justice and ZERO compensation for our damages!"
There are no "conspiracy theories" here. These are all hard forensic facts that will stand-up in any court!
"...They did this to anybody who they thought might expose the White House use of agencies as "slush-funds" and "Dark Money" campaign finance laundering conduits. They were afraid that exposure of these schemes would cause the President of the United States to be forced to resign in the middle of his term!..."
Years of archived news videos provide evidence, by thousands of reporters and investigators, that the suspects are: A.) Based around Silicon Valley and Washington DC; B.) Operating as a RICO-violating cartel; C.) Deeply sociopath and sexually disturbed; D.) Money laundering via large law firms and investment banks; E.) Using Google, Reddit, Facebook, etc. as mass political behavior-manipulation programs; F.) Paying for and operating character assassination programs against those who defy them; G.) Using "green energy" as one of their facades to steer tax dollars to the companies that they, and their friends, already own and work for; H.) Willing to resort to the most extreme things to protect their scheme; I). Living in an ideological "echo-chamber" in their tech bubbles; J.) Empowered entirely by the public's lack of willingness to boycott them and demand their arrests.
A vast number of individuals and companies, who are willing to testify about these crimes have NEVER BEEN ALLOWED into a Congressional hearing, court-room, FBI 302 interview reports, etc., because crooked Senators are terrified of the confirming testimony they can all provide.
Investigators placed autonomous monitoring applications on a vast number of co-location servers, shared hosting ISPs, stand-alone servers and sites around the world over ten years ago and monitored: 1.) Google search results compared to other search engines, 2.) Google DNS and spoofing activities, 3.) Google results on 100 key search terms including search terms of assets, candidates and business associates connected to Google, 4.) Where Google sends data from users clicking on Google supplied links, 5.) Where fabricated mole data that was injected as user data ultimately ended up later, and other metrics. The results prove that Google abuses the market, the public, politics and human rights.
Said another witness: "...ELON MUSK BOYFRIENDS: LARRY PAGE, ERIC
SCHMIDT, JARED COHEN AND SERGY BRIN AT GOOGLE AND MARK ZUCKERBERG AT
FACEBOOK ORDER THEIR COMPANY STAFF TO HIDE, DOWN-RANK, HOLE-PUNCH THE
NET, SHADOW-BAN, STOCK MARKET VALUATION MANIPULATE AND EXCLUDE THIS
WEBSITE ON THE INTERNET. WE TRACK EVERY TECHNICAL TRICK THEY USE AND
REPORT IT TO CONGRESS AND ANTI-TRUST AGENCIES. THE MORE THEY DO IT, THE
MORE THEY CREATE EVIDENCE THAT WILL PUT THEM OUT OF BUSINESS!..."
The Google empire controls most of the media on Earth, via many front corporations, and indoctrinates everyone in it's organization using 'cult' methodologies. Google owner's believe in "our-ideology-at-any-cost" and "the-ends-justify-the-means" scenarios. What could possibly go wrong?
Regarding The CleanTech Crash: Every single Dept of Energy executive, and related Senator, owns stock market assets in Tesla, Fisker, Solyndra, Ener1, etc. so they blockaded and sabotaged every applicant who competed with their holdings in a RICO-violating, felony organized crime, using taxpayer funds.
Many of those character assassinated, sabotaged, black-listed, poisoned and shadow-banned are still waiting for justice!
The Silicon Valley Mafia is The Sandhill Road Venture Capital frat boy company bosses in Palo Alto, their National Venture Capital Association (NVCA) partners and the tech companies (Google, Tesla, Facebook, Amazon, Twitter, Linkedin, etc.) they control. They are sometimes referred to as The Deep State. They have purchased California, New York and Washington, DC politicians (mostly Senators) who they also control.
They hire rogue ex-intelligence agents to operate attacks via Fusion GPS, The Gawker/Gizmodo/Jalopnik/Univision Hatchet-Job Fake Tabloid Facade (ie: Obama had White House staff: Robert Gibbs and John Podesta hire them, in association with Obama financier Elon Musk, to attack XP Vehicles, Bright Automotive and ZAP Vehicles as retribution in violation of anti-trust laws), Black Cube, ShareBlue, New America, In-Q-Tel, Podesta Group, Media Matters, etc. . They spend over $30M on each massive media attack program against competitors, reporters and outsiders.
They collude on black-lists, valuation controls, election manipulation, search engine rigging, domestic spying for political manipulation, stock rigging, insider trading, executive prostitute clubs, trophy wife assignments, the bribery of politicians and worse. They are felons who pay politicians to halt investigations and interdiction efforts. They are widely covered in news media articles as: sex abusers, cult enthusiasts, elitists, rapists, woman beaters, sexual work extortion operators, extremists, arrogant clones of each other, tone deaf, echo-chamber reinforcing, misogynist, racist, manipulative, insecure, covertly gay, corrupt, thieves' and other anti-social revelations.
The divorce and sex abuse court filings against the #PaloAltoMafia men of Silicon Valley are some of the most disturbing and sexually twisted court records you will ever read and they demonstrate a clear and decades-long pattern of collusion and depravity. From Google's "Sex Slaves" to "Sex Penthouses" to "Deaths by Prostitute"; the list is endless.
They are not limited to California and also operate out of New York and Washington DC. They use their monopolistic control of the internet to massively and exclusively scale services that only they control and use to abuse public privacy, human rights, invention rights and information. They run their cartel like the old Italian Mafia once did.
Silicon Valley's Corrupt Palo Alto Mafia Network "Scaled Monopolies"
Dr. ROBERT EPSTEIN describes how Defendant and political financier Google (In-Q-Tel's business partner) rigs elections to try to maintain Google's monopoly.
Authorities in the UK have finally figured out that fake news stories and Russian-placed ads are not the real problem. The UK Parliament is about to impose stiff penalties—not on the people who place the ads or write the stories, but on the Big Tech platforms that determine which ads and stories people actually see.
Parliament’s plans will almost surely be energized by the latest leak of damning material from inside Google’s fortress of secrecy: The Wall Street Journal recently reported on emails exchanged among Google employees in January 2017 in which they strategized about how to alter Google search results and other “ephemeral experiences” to counter President Donald Trump’s newly imposed travel ban. The company claims that none of these plans was ever implemented, but who knows?
While U.S. authorities have merely held hearings, EU authorities have taken dramatic steps in recent years to limit the powers of Big Tech, most recently with a comprehensive law that protects user privacy—the General Data Protection Regulation—and a whopping $5.1 billion fine against Google for monopolistic practices in the mobile device market. Last year, the European Union also levied a $2.7 billion fine against Google for filtering and ordering search results in a way that favored their own products and services. That filtering and ordering, it turns out, is of crucial importance.
As years of research I’ve been conducting on online influence has shown, content per se is not the real threat these days; what really matters is (a) which content is selected for users to see, and (b) the way that content is ordered in search results, search suggestions, news feeds, message feeds, comment lists, and so on. That’s where the power lies to shift opinions, purchases, and votes, and that power is held by a disturbingly small group of people.
I say “these days” because the explosive growth of a handful of massive platforms on the internet—the largest, by far, being Google and the next largest being Facebook—has changed everything. Millions of people and organizations are constantly trying to get their content in front of our eyes, but for more than 2.5 billion people around the world—soon to be more than 4 billion—the responsibility for what algorithms do should always lie with the people who wrote the algorithms and the companies that deployed them.
In randomized, controlled, peer-reviewed research I’ve conducted with thousands of people, I’ve shown repeatedly that when people are undecided, I can shift their opinions on just about any topic just by changing how I filter and order the information I show them. I’ve also shown that when, in multiple searches, I show people more and more information that favors one candidate, I can shift opinions even farther. Even more disturbing, I can do these things in ways that are completely invisible to people and in ways that don’t leave paper trails for authorities to trace.
Worse still, these new forms of influence often rely on ephemeral content—information that is generated on the fly by an algorithm and then disappears forever, which means that it would be difficult, if not impossible, for authorities to reconstruct. If, on Election Day this coming November, Mark Zuckerberg decides to broadcast go-out-and-vote reminders mainly to members of one political party, how would we be able to detect such a manipulation? If we can’t detect it, how would we be able to reduce its impact? And how, days or weeks later, would we be able to turn back the clock to see what happened?
Of course, companies like Google and Facebook emphatically reject the idea that their search and newsfeed algorithms are being tweaked in ways that could meddle in elections. Doing so would undermine the public’s trust in their companies, spokespeople have said. They insist that their algorithms are complicated, constantly changing, and subject to the “organic” activity of users.
This is, of course, sheer nonsense. Google can adjust its algorithms to favor any candidate it chooses no matter what the activity of users might be, just as easily as I do in my experiments. As legal scholar Frank Pasquale noted in his recent book “The Black Box Society,” blaming algorithms just doesn’t cut it; the responsibility for what an algorithm does should always lie with the people who wrote the algorithm and the companies that deployed the algorithm. Alan Murray, president of Fortune, recently framed the issue this way: “Rule one in the Age of AI: Humans remain accountable for decisions, even when made by machines.”
Given that 95 percent of donations from Silicon Valley generally go to Democrats, it’s hard to imagine that the algorithms of companies like Facebook and Google don’t favor their favorite candidates. A newly leaked video of a 2016 meeting at Google shows without doubt that high-ranking Google executives share a strong political preference, which could easily be expressed in algorithms. The favoritism might be deliberately programmed or occur simply because of unconscious bias. Either way, votes and opinions shift.
It’s also hard to imagine how, in any election in the world, with or without intention on the part of company employees, Google search results would fail to tilt toward one candidate. Google’s search algorithm certainly has no equal-time rule built into it; we wouldn’t want it to! We want it to tell us what’s best, and the algorithm will indeed always favor one dog food over another, one music service over another, and one political candidate over another. When the latter happens … votes and opinions shift.
Here are 10 ways—seven of which I am actively studying and quantifying—that Big Tech companies could use to shift millions of votes this coming November with no one the wiser. Let’s hope, of course, that these methods are not being used and will never be used, but let’s be realistic too; there’s generally no limit to what people will do when money and power are on the line.
1. Search Engine Manipulation Effect (SEME)
Ongoing research I began in January 2013 has shown repeatedly that when one candidate is favored over another in search results, voting preferences among undecided voters shift dramatically—by 20 percent or more overall, and by up to 80 percent in some demographic groups. This is partly because people place inordinate trust in algorithmically generated output, thinking, mistakenly, that algorithms are inherently objective and impartial.
But my research also suggests that we are conditioned to believe in high-ranking search results in much the same way that rats are conditioned to press levers in Skinner boxes. Because most searches are for simple facts (“When was Donald Trump born?”), and because correct answers to simple questions inevitably turn up in the first position, we are taught, day after day, that the higher a search result appears in the list, the more true it must be. When we finally search for information to help us make a tough decision (“Who’s better for the economy, Trump or Clinton?”), we tend to believe the information on the web pages to which high-ranking search results link.
As The Washington Post reported last year, in 2016, I led a team that developed a system for monitoring the election-related search results Google, Bing, and Yahoo were showing users in the months leading up to the presidential election, and I found pro-Clinton bias in all 10 search positions on the first page of Google’s search results. Google responded, as usual, that it has “never re-ranked search results on any topic (including elections) to manipulate political sentiment”—but I never claimed it did. I found what I found, namely that Google’s search results favored Hillary Clinton; “re-ranking”—an obtuse term Google seems to have invented to confuse people—is irrelevant.
Because (a) many elections are very close, (b) 90 percent of online searches in most countries are conducted on just one search engine (Google), and (c) internet penetration is high in most countries these days—higher in many countries than it is in the United States—it is possible that the outcomes ofupwards of 25 percent of the world’s national elections are now being determined by Google’s search algorithm, even without deliberate manipulation on the part of company employees. Because, as I noted earlier, Google’s search algorithm is not constrained by equal-time rules, it almost certainly ends up favoring one candidate over another in most political races, and that shifts opinions and votes.
2. Search Suggestion Effect (SSE)
When Google first introduced autocomplete search suggestions—those short lists you see when you start to type an item into the Google search bar—it was supposedly meant to save you some time. Whatever the original rationale, those suggestions soon turned into a powerful means of manipulation that Google appears to use aggressively.
My recent research suggests that (a) Google starts to manipulate your opinions from the very first character you type, and (b) by fiddling with the suggestions it shows you, Google can turn a 50–50 split among undecided voters into a 90–10 split with no one knowing. I call this manipulation the Search Suggestion Effect (SSE), and it is one of the most powerful behavioral manipulations I have ever seen in my nearly 40 years as a behavioral scientist.
How will you know whether Google is messing with your election-related search suggestions in the weeks leading up to the election? You won’t.
3. The Targeted Messaging Effect (TME)
If, on Nov. 8, 2016, Mr. Zuckerberg had sent go-out-and-vote reminders just to supporters of Mrs. Clinton, that would likely have given her an additional 450,000 votes. I’ve extrapolated that number from Facebook’s own published data.
Because Zuckerberg was overconfident in 2016, I don’t believe he sent those messages, but he is surely not overconfident this time around. In fact, it’s possible that, at this very moment, Facebook and other companies are sending out targeted register-to-vote reminders, as well as targeted go-out-and-vote reminders in primary races. Targeted go-out-and-vote reminders might also favor one party on Election Day in November.
My associates and I are building systems to monitor such things, but because no systems are currently in place, there is no sure way to tell whether Twitter, Google, and Facebook (or Facebook’s influential offshoot, Instagram) are currently tilting their messaging. No law or regulation specifically forbids the practice, and it would be an easy and economical way to serve company needs. Campaign donations cost money, after all, but tilting your messaging to favor one candidate is free.
4. Opinion Matching Effect (OME)
In March 2016, and continuing for more than seven months until Election Day, Tinder’s tens of millions of users could not only swipe to find sex partners, they could also swipe to find out whether they should vote for Trump or Clinton. The website iSideWith.com—founded and run by “two friends” with no obvious qualifications—claims to have helped more than 49 million people match their opinions to the right candidate. Both CNN and USA Today have run similar services, currently inactive.
I am still studying and quantifying this type of, um, helpful service, but so far it looks like (a) opinion matching services tend to attract undecided voters—precisely the kinds of voters who are most vulnerable to manipulation, and (b) they can easily produce opinion shifts of 30 percent or more without people’s awareness.
At this writing, iSideWith is already helping people decide who they should vote for in the 2018 New York U.S. Senate race, the 2018 New York gubernatorial race, the 2018 race for New York District 10 of the U.S. House of Representatives, and, believe it or not, the 2020 presidential race. Keep your eyes open for other matching services as they turn up, and ask yourself this: Who wrote those algorithms, and how can we know whether they are biased toward one candidate or party?
5. Answer Bot Effect (ABE)
More and more these days, people don’t want lists of thousands of search results, they just want the answer, which is being supplied by personal assistants like Google Home devices, the Google Assistant on Android devices, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, and Google’s featured snippets—those answer boxesat the top of Google search results. I call the opinion shift produced by such mechanisms the Answer Bot Effect (ABE).
My research on Google’s answer boxes shows three things so far: First, they reduce the time people spend searching for more information. Second, they reduce the number of times people click on search results. And third, they appear to shift opinions 10 to 30 percent more than search results alone do. I don’t yet know exactly how many votes can be shifted by answer bots, but in a national election in the United States, the number might be in the low millions.
Recently, Trump complained that Twitter was preventing conservatives from reaching many of their followers on that platform through shadowbanning, the practice of quietly hiding a user’s posts without the user knowing. The validity of Trump’s specific accusation is arguable, but the fact remains that any platform on which people have followers or friends can be rigged in a way to suppress the views and influence of certain individuals without people knowing the suppression is taking place. Unfortunately, without aggressive monitoring systems in place, it’s hard to know for sure when or even whether shadowbanning is occurring.
7. Programmed Virality and the Digital Bandwagon Effect
Big Tech companies would like us to believe that virality on platforms like YouTube or Instagram is a profoundly mysterious phenomenon, even while acknowledging that their platforms are populated by tens of millions of fake accounts that might affect virality.
In fact, there is an obvious situation in which virality is not mysterious at all, and that is when the tech companies themselves decide to shift high volumes of traffic in ways that suit their needs. And aren’t they always doing this? Because Facebook’s algorithms are secret, if an executive decided to bestow instant Instagram stardom on a pro-Elizabeth Warren college student, we would have no way of knowing that this was a deliberate act and no way of countering it.
The same can be said of the virality of YouTube videos and Twitter campaigns; they are inherently competitive—except when company employees or executives decide otherwise. Google has an especially powerful and subtle way of creating instant virality using a technique I’ve dubbed the Digital Bandwagon Effect. Because the popularity of websites drives them higher in search results, and because high-ranking search results increase the popularity of websites (SEME), Google has the ability to engineer a sudden explosion of interest in a candidate or cause with no one—perhaps even people at the companies themselves—having the slightest idea they’ve done so. In 2015, I published a mathematical model showing how neatly this can work.
8. The Facebook Effect
Because Facebook’s ineptness and dishonesty have squeezed it into a digital doghouse from which it might never emerge, it gets its own precinct on my list.
In 2016, I published an article detailing five ways that Facebook could shift millions of votes without people knowing: biasing its trending box, biasing its center newsfeed, encouraging people to look for election-related material in its search bar (which it did that year!), sending out targeted register-to-vote reminders, and sending out targeted go-out-and-vote reminders.
I wrote that article before the news stories broke about Facebook’s improper sharing of user data with multiple researchers and companies, not to mention the stories about how the company permitted fake news stories to proliferate on its platform during the critical days just before the November election—problems the company is now trying hard to mitigate. With the revelations mounting, on July 26, 2018, Facebook suffered the largest one-day drop in stock value of any company in history, and now it’s facing a shareholder lawsuit and multiple fines and investigations in both the United States and the EU.
Facebook desperately needs new direction, which is why I recently called for Zuckerberg’s resignation. The company, in my view, could benefit from the new perspectives that often come with new leadership.
I am cheating here by labeling one category “censorship,” because censorship—the selective and biased suppression of information—can be perpetrated in so many different ways.
Shadowbanning could be considered a type of censorship, for example, and in 2016, a Facebook whistleblower claimed he had been on a company team that was systematically removing conservative news stories from Facebook’s newsfeed. Now, because of Facebook’s carelessness with user data, the company is openly taking pride in rapidly shutting down accounts that appear to be Russia-connected—even though company representatives sometimes acknowledge that they “don’t have all the facts.”
Meanwhile, Zuckerberg has crowed about his magnanimity in preserving the accounts of people who deny the Holocaust, never mentioning the fact that provocative content propels traffic that might make him richer. How would you know whether Facebook was selectively suppressing material that favored one candidate or political party? You wouldn’t. (For a detailed look at nine ways Google censors content, see my essay “The New Censorship,” published in 2016.)
10. The Digital Customization Effect (DCE)
Any marketer can tell you how important it is to know your customer. Now, think about that simple idea in a world in which Google has likely collected the equivalent of millions of Word pages of information about you. If you randomly display a banner ad on a web page, out of 10,000 people, only five are likely to click on it; that’s the CTR—the “clickthrough rate” (0.05 percent). But if you target your ad, displaying it only to people whose interests it matches, you can boost your CTR a hundredfold.
That’s why Google, Facebook, and others have become increasingly obsessed with customizing the information they show you: They want you to be happily and mindlessly clicking away on the content they show you.
In the research I conduct, my impact is always larger when I am able to customize information to suit people’s backgrounds. Because I know very little about the participants in my experiments, however, I am able to do so in only feeble ways, but the tech giants know everything about you—even things you don’t know about yourself. This tells me that the effect sizes I find in my experiments are probably too low. The impact that companies like Google are having on our lives is quite possibly much larger than I think it is. Perhaps that doesn’t scare you, but it sure scares me.
The Same Direction
OK, you say, so much for Epstein’s list! What about those other shenanigans we’ve heard about: voter fraud (Trump’s explanation for why he lost the popular vote), gerrymandering, rigged voting machines, targeted ads placed by Cambridge Analytica, votes cast over the internet, or, as I mentioned earlier, those millions of bots designed to shift opinions. What about hackers like Andrés Sepúlveda, who spent nearly a decade using computer technology to rig elections in Latin America? What about all the ways new technologies make dirty tricks easier in elections? And what about those darn Russians, anyway?
To all that I say: kid stuff. Dirty tricks have been around since the first election was held millennia ago. But unlike the new manipulative tools controlled by Google and Facebook, the old tricks are competitive—it’s your hacker versus my hacker, your bots versus my bots, your fake news stories versus my fake news stories—and sometimes illegal, which is why Sepúlveda’s efforts failed many times and why Cambridge Analytica is dust.
“Cyberwar,” a new book by political scientist Kathleen Hall Jamieson, reminds us that targeted ads and fake news stories can indeed shift votes, but the numbers are necessarily small. It’s hard to overwhelm your competitor when he or she can play the same games you are playing.
Now, take a look at my numbered list. The techniques I’ve described can shift millions of votes without people’s awareness, and because they are controlled by the platforms themselves, they are entirely noncompetitive. If Google or Facebook or Twitter wants to shift votes, there is no way to counteract their manipulations. In fact, at this writing, there is not even a credible way of detecting those manipulations.
And what if the tech giants are all leaning in the same political direction? What if the combined weight of their subtle and untraceable manipulative power favors one political party? If 150 million people vote this November in the United States, with 20 percent still undecided at this writing (that’s 30 million people), I estimate that the combined weight of Big Tech manipulations could easily shift upwards of 12 million votes without anyone knowing. That’s enough votes to determine the outcomes of hundreds of close local, state, and congressional races throughout the country, which makes the free-and-fair election little more than an illusion.
Full disclosure: I happen to think that the political party currently in favor in Silicon Valley is, by a hair (so to speak), the superior party at the moment. But I also love America and democracy, and I believe that the free-and-fair election is the bedrock of our political system. I don’t care how “right” these companies might be; lofty ends do not justify shady means, especially when those means are difficult to see and not well understood by either authorities or the public.
Can new regulations or laws save us from the extraordinary powers of manipulation the Big Tech companies now possess? Maybe, but our leaders seem to be especially regulation-shy these days, and I doubt, in any case, whether laws and regulations will ever be able to keep up with the new kinds of threats that new technologies will almost certainly pose in coming years.
I don’t believe we are completely helpless, however. I think that one way to turn Facebook, Google, and the innovative technology companies that will succeed them, into responsible citizens is to set upsophisticated monitoring systems that detect, analyze, and archive what they’re showing people—in effect, to fight technology with technology.
As I mentioned earlier, in 2016, I led a team that monitored search results on multiple search engines. That was a start, but we can do much better. These days, I’m working with business associates and academic colleagues on three continents to scale up systems to monitor a wide range of information the Big Tech companies are sharing with their users—even the spoken answers provided by personal assistants. Ultimately, a worldwide ecology of passive monitoring systems will make these companies accountable to the public, with information bias and online manipulation detectable in real time.
With November drawing near, there is obviously some urgency here. At this writing, it’s not clear whether we will be fully operational in time to monitor the midterm elections, but we’re determined to be ready for 2020.
Dr. Robert Epstein is a senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology in California.
The citizens demanded an FTC task force and they got one launched: The Federal Trade Commission will be launching a task force to monitor competition in the US’s technology markets, FTC commissioners announced.
The task force will include current officials working in the agency’s Bureau of Competition in order to “enhance the Bureau’s focus on technology-related sectors of the economy, including markets in which online platforms compete.” It will also include 17 staff attorneys who will be tasked with investigating anti-competitive behavior in the tech industry.
“The role of technology in the economy and in our lives grows more important every day,” FTC Chairman Joe Simons said. “As I’ve noted in the past, it makes sense for us to closely examine technology markets to ensure consumers benefit from free and fair competition.”
“Technology markets ... raise distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement”
The new task force comes amid growing pressure for antitrust action against large tech companies like Facebook and Google. Earlier this month, it was reported that FTC officials have been looking to levy a multibillion-dollar fine on Facebook for repeatedly violating a privacy agreement the two bodies came to back in 2011. A coalition of advocacy groups argued that a fine would not be enough to incentivize Facebook to be more cautious with consumer data and asked the FTC to force the company spinoffs, Instagram and WhatsApp, back into their own entities once again. The groups argued that Facebook was too big for it to adequately care for user data for all three major apps.
Discussion over retroactive merger reviews that may result in companies divesting previously approved assets has been heating up over the last few months. The Democratic-led House Judiciary Committee has been reportedly beefing up its antitrust arm and hiring on big names like Lina Khan in the academic sphere.
“Technology markets, which are rapidly evolving and touch so many other sectors of the economy, raise distinct challenges for antitrust enforcement,” said Bureau Director Bruce Hoffman. “By centralizing our expertise and attention, the new task force will be able to focus on these markets exclusively – ensuring they are operating pursuant to the antitrust laws, and taking action where they are not.”
Hoffman confirmed that the task force would look into consummated mergers, but could not name any investigations specifically. When it comes to remedies for problematic mergers, Hoffman said that firms could be “broken out,” or could be forced to “spin off” previous acquisitions as new competitors in order to recreate the markets pre-merger.
Hoffman said that the task force would be working closely with the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau as it relates to consumer privacy enforcement especially in cases in which these issues coalesce.
“Our ongoing Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century are a crucial step to deepen our understanding of these markets and potential competitive issues. The Technology Task Force is the next step in that effort,” Simons said in the press release.
The Justice Department, which also has antitrust jurisdiction, is aware of the FTC’s new task force, according to Hoffman, and both agencies will continue to work separately on this front.
An alliance of investigators, forensics experts, EU prosecution offices, FBI specialists, journalists, voters and public crowd-sourced volunteers have been campaigning for the arrest, prosecution, exposure and termination of each and every company, group and individual who engaged in these crimes and reprisal attacks on those who reported them.
It has aready cost the oligarchs their power and their cash, ie: https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2019-02-27/billionaire-list-shows-1t-hit-from-18-market-meltdown
"WINNING", in this case, means punching the bad guys in the legal nose and teaching every other citizen how to do it too!