Tag Archives: FACEBOOK

Facebook’s Relationship To Marijuana? It’s Complicated


Debra Borchardt

Contributor

I write about the business of marijuana.

Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

 

Facebook FB +1.08% can’t decide where it stands on cannabis.

On the one hand, it says it doesn’t want to promote drug use and bans what it believes is content that approves of marijuana use, like pictures of people smoking pot. On the other hand, it sometimes allow cannabis-related companies to promote their businesses. Then Facebook reverses course and censors journalism about cannabis.

The logic that a story about legalization of marijuana or scientific studies on cannabis-related medicine is promoting cannabis is completely ridiculous. A story about war doesn’t promote war nor does a story about wine entice readers to go get drunk. Facebook didn’t respond to a request for clarification on its policy towards marijuana.

“Facebook doesn’t have any written rules,” said Isaac Dietrich of social media website Mass Roots. “So we’re flying in the dark with arbitrary rules that are enforced at the whim of people.” Mass Roots is actually a separate social media site for cannabis friendly businesses and people, but it recognizes the power of Facebook and that is why they are trying to maintain a presence there and has hosted Facebook live events.

“We’re one step removed from the plant, but our Instagram page has been suspended five times this fall. We got it back after we defended ourselves,” said Dietrich. The business has also had some videos deleted by Facebook. He’s also not happy with the discrepancies over who Facebook does approve.

They verified Weedmaps and gave them a competitive advantage because they were officially accepted,” he said. Weedmaps is a website and app that helps people locate dispensaries and gives reviews. Dietrich isn’t bitter, he knows the dispensaries have a harder time and ultimately, the problems with Facebook just gives Mass Roots more users.

Dispensaries in particular bear the brunt of Facebook’s censorship. Medicine Man, the largest dispensary in Denver, where marijuana is legal said, “Yes, we have had our social media accounts shut down a number of times.”

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SOURCE

“Your ad wasn’t approved because the body/title text used in the ad promotes the use or sale of illegal drugs,”


Why Did Facebook Block Our Reporting On Hemp?

By Jeff Young 18 hours ago

 

 

Hey, Mark Zuckerberg, can we talk about hemp? No, really, I’m asking: can we? Because a recent experience with Facebook left the impression that reporting on the plant used in products from soap to rope is taboo. Verboten. The leaf that dare not speak its name.

This bit of anti-social media behavior came after ReSource reporter Nicole Erwin profiled Kentucky farmers participating in a state-run research program on hemp, once a commodity in Kentucky. Growers hope to revive the crop but face frustrating limitations because hemp is still lumped in — unfairly, proponents argue — with drugs such as marijuana.

A bill pending in Congress would ease these restrictions but for now the farmers are stuck in legal limbo, unable to adequately grow or process hemp in the U.S. while a multimillion dollar market goes to imports.

When ReSource partner station WKMS in Murray, Kentucky, sought to promote Erwin’s story on Facebook we discovered yet another obstacle: Even talking about the issue can trigger a ban. WKMS News Director Matt Markgraf tried to “boost” a Facebook post on the story and learned that his ad was not allowed.

“Your ad wasn’t approved because the body/title text used in the ad promotes the use or sale of illegal drugs,” read a message from Facebook.

Puzzled, Markgraf wrote a patient appeal, explaining that the ad did not promote anything other than a piece of journalism “about the misconception of illegality regarding hemp v. marijuana.”  

But Facebook was having none of it.

“Such ads violate local laws,” came the reply. “We have zero tolerance towards such ads…This decision is final.”

Markgraf noted the irony at work here: A story questioning hemp’s uncertain legal status was blocked because of…hemp’s uncertain legal status. He also found instant empathy with the hemp grower’s dilemma.

“This clearly underscores the challenges that the emerging industry faces in overcoming the plant’s stigma,” Markgraf said.

It’s hard to see how Erwin’s story could be construed as a sales pitch for a drug. Hemp products include cooking oils, cosmetics, and clothing but lack any significant amount of the intoxicating substance found in marijuana. Proponents say a smoker would need a hemp joint the size of a telephone pole to catch a buzz.

We wondered if anyone at Facebook even reads the appeals. Was Markgraf actually communicating with a person or just arguing with an algorithm?

“If they had actually read the first couple of sentences in the story, I think they would have reconsidered the decision,” Markgraf said.

The company did not respond to requests for comment (beyond the comments included in response to Markgraf’s appeal).

In the past few months Facebook has come under fire for alleged political bias, prompting a meeting with conservative lawmakers this spring. And the platform has become such an important means of connecting with an audience that any barrier to sharing stories can cause heartburn for news outlets. A 2015 Pew Research Center study found that about 60 percent of Facebook users get their news there. A recent company announcement of changes in the algorithm that determines what content users see was enough to send shudders through the publishing industry.  

That’s why our little experience with the hemp story seems like the seed of something that could grow problematic. If Facebook is blithely blocking attempts to distribute news stories on topics it deems off-limits, this could have implications far beyond the farm.

CONTINUE READING…

On Good Friday, Presidential Election 2016 Commentaries are open for discussion in the USMJPARTY GROUP…


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March 24, 2016

 

The U.S. Marijuana Party has a Public Group on Facebook which will host a COMMENT SESSION concerning the 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION on GOOD FRIDAY, March 25th.

 

Beginning at 8:00 AM CST tomorrow, March 25th, 2016, the FACEBOOK GROUP of the USMjParty will host a Comment Session on the upcoming Presidential Race for the Whitehouse.

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IF YOU would like to join us in this very important discussion tomorrow, you still have time to join Our 17,000+ Members at the GROUP LINK below.

We look forward to seeing all of our MEMBERS ideas and commentaries on this most very important ELECTION of the 21st Century!

HISTORY is about to be made this year in the United States!

YOU have a voice in the outcome of this ELECTION!

Above all else PLEASE make sure that you are REGISTERED TO VOTE and UTILIZE that Vote in this ELECTION!

We are looking forward to seeing you all there!

 

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  Organizer                           Head Chairperson

The reality of addiction…


Eva Holland

Yesterday at 1:38pm · Instagram ·

I’m sure this photo makes a lot of people uncomfortable it may even piss a few people off but the main reason I took it was to show the reality of addiction. If you don’t choose recovery every single day this will be your only way out. No parent should have to bury their child and no child as young as ours should have to bury their parent. This was preventable it didn’t have to happen but one wrong choice destroyed his family. I know a lot of people may be upset I’m putting it out in the open like This but hiding the facts is only going to keep this epidemic going. The cold hard truth is heroin kills. You may think it will never happen to you but guess what that’s what Mike thought too. We were together 11 years. I was there before it all started. I knew what he wanted out of this life, all his hopes and dreams. He never would’ve imagined his life would turn out this way. He was once so happy and full of life. He was a great son, brother, friend but most importantly he was a great dad. He loved those kids more than anything. But as we all know sometimes life gets tough and we make some wrong choices. His addiction started off with pain pills then inevitably heroin. He loved us all so much he decided enough was enough and went to rehab at the end of last year. He got out right before Christmas as a brand new man. He had found His purpose for living again, he found his gorgeous smile again, he became the man, the son, the brother, the dad that we all needed him to be again. He did so good for so long but then a couple months ago It started with a single pill for a "tooth ache" which inevitably lead him back down the road of addiction instead of staying the coarse of recovery. He said he could handle it, that he could stop on his own and didn’t need to get help again. Well he was wrong, last Wednesday he took his last breath. My kids father, the man I loved since I was a kid, a great son and a great person lost his battle. I just needed to share his story in case it can help anyone else.

Eva Holland's photo.

DARPA Study Included Facebook, Twitter Users


Research Included How Social Networks Influence Behavior

By W. Brice McVicar in Breaking News Social Media

 

darpalogo

 

Social media networks were the focus of a recent DARPA — the Pentagon-run Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency — study in a bid to gain insight to their users.

Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter and others were all examined in the study, a report published by The Guardian reveals.

The multi-million dollar project included analysis of tweets from celebrities including Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga as well as collecting scads of information from tweets and other posts on social media sites. Some of the study even involved messaging users to see how they would respond and what was said.

The research went beyond that, though, as the study looked at how social media networks were used to influence society.

“The project list includes a study of how activists with the Occupy movement used Twitter as well as a range of research on tracking internet memes and some about understanding how influence behavior (liking, following, retweeting) happens on a range of popular social media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter, Kickstarter, Digg and Reddit,” The Guardian’s report noted.

The project, known as the Social Media in Strategic Communication, allowed DARPA to get a grasp on how social networks are shaping the world.

On it’s site, DARPA said it’s goal with the project “is to develop a new science of social networks built on an emerging technology base. Through the program, DARPA seeks to develop tools to support the efforts of human operators to counter misinformation or deception campaigns with truthful information.”

The Guardian reported it reached out to experts to weigh in on the matter. One such expert, Emilio Ferrara, who examined how the digital age played a role in the Occupy Wall Street movement, said it appears DARPA was above-the-board in its approach.

“According to federal regulations of human experimentation, for studies that don’t affect the environment of online users, and whereas one can freely gather online data – say, from the public Twitter feed – there is no requirement of informed consent,” said Ferrara. “This is the framework under which our Twitter study was carried out; moreover, all our studies on Twitter look into aggregate collective phenomena and never at the individual level.”

CONTINUE READING…

Casper Leitch: FaceBook is censoring activists


https://fbcdn-profile-a.akamaihd.net/hprofile-ak-prn2/v/t1.0-1/c30.30.369.369/s50x50/47043_511083858956206_398116326_n.jpg?oh=f896645c351f283b2527e68a676eab71&oe=54F5E0FD&__gda__=1424027838_418020e8d77dffc03b7386621cc9aabd  FaceBook is censoring activists – PLEASE visit my profile often and share my links!

April 25, 2013 at 5:11pm

At first, I thought it was just ME.  But, over time I have encountered SEVERAL activists on FaceBook who SUDDENLY get the same WARNING messages from FaceBook that I have been receiving.  It would seem, to those of us who attempt to reach a LARGE number of our friends, that FaceBook is doing EVERYTHING it can to prohibit the  sharing of REAL information.
When FaceBook forced us all to use it’s new TIMELINE FEATURE – it became impossible, at that point, to control who would have access to any thing and EVERY thing that is posted on the profiles of this social site.  If NOTHING ELSE, advertisers get access to our information – and we know that the government (ie. the DEA, FBI, CIA and HomeLand Security) have free access to our profiles and often times are reading our posts.
At that time, I removed ALL personal information from my profile…every bit of it – my private e-addy, my ph numbers, my real age, who my real family members are, date and place of birth information, current address, likes and dislikes, personal photos…every single bit of it and rebuilt my FaceBook personal profile into an electronic magazine focused on ending marijuana prohibition and preserving Freedom.
Members of the FaceBook community embraced my hard work and the number of friends I have quickly swelled to the 5,000 limit allowed by FaceBook.  Even tho I am the host of a global radio program with a listening audience of over 2-million people, I am still allowed to interact with ONLY 5,000 members of my audience on the worlds biggest SOCIAL MEDIA website.
To overcome THAT obstacle I started the ‘TIME 4 HEMP – LIVE’ page that people have liked and now visit for news in the world of hemp/marijuana that is found at: https://www.facebook.com/Time4HempLIVE
On this page, I post information that is MOSTLY about marijuana with a few posts about our loss of Freedoms.  On my profile page I have gone CRAZY and put up posts about marijuana AND A GOOD NUMBER about our loss of Freedoms along with some links to great music.
I have many well informed friends who post fantastic information that I feel needs to be shared with ALL of my other friends….it seems that FaceBook does NOT agree.
When FaceBook first went to TimeLine – several of my friends requested that I tag them in my posts – and I did.  FaceBook blocked me one day from tagging any of my photos because I was "tagging too many people" in them.  I had about 50 friends that liked being tagged in my images because the images would appear on their profiles and the information attached that I was wanting to share could also reach their friends.  As of now, I am allowed to tag only 4 people per image – if I attempt to do more than that, I can then not tag anyone in an image for 30-days.
To overcome THAT obstacle, I began posting images and URL’s onto my profile and then would re-post them onto the profiles of my friends.  FaceBook won’t allow me to re-post the same image or URL now more than 8 times before they start blocking that option.
To overcome THAT obstacle, I attached my Twitter feed to my FaceBook account and began visiting the profile pages of my friends and sharing THEIR information onto my Profile so my friends could review it and….well, wouldn’t you know it….now FaceBook tells me that I am ”over using the SHARE button and need to slow down other wise be blocked from using this feature for 30-days" and if I should attempt to share more than 25 URL’s or images in about an hours time – I am blocked form using the share button – FIRST for 4-hours and if I keep OVER USING THE SHARE BUTTON that day – then I’m am blocked from using it for 30-days.
Now, I just post EVERY THING onto Twitter (and nearly 9,000 people follow the head-lines that I post at: https://twitter.com/time4hemp – check it out!) and have begun using the marijuana social site established by Todd McCormick more and more to interact with my friends.  The link to that is http://www.HEMP.xxx and is free to join AND does NOT limit how you interact with other members.
I have to say – FaceBook is very successful in censoring activists.  In order for any one to discover the information posted on this profile page – it is now COMPLETELY up to my friends to actually come to my profile page each day and review the new links that I have been able to successfully post to find the information and SHARE IT WITH THEIR FRIENDS.
Instead of being able to get a message out to the 5,000 friends that I have like I could when TimeLine FIRST began…..instead of being able to get a message out to the approximate 2,000 friends that I use to reach when TimeLine was just a few months old….instead of being able to get a message out to the approximate 300 friends that I use to reach when TimeLine was just a year old….instead of being able to get a message out to the approximate 150 friends that I use to reach up until this week – I can now reach about 30 people a day.  For every one else interested in the material I post – they MUST take time to visit my profile and then SHARE any information they discover to be of importance.
THIS IS WHY I AM ASKING that my friends visit my profile OFTEN and make it a point to share and re-post the material that you consider to be important. 
PLEASE READ:
The IRS is spying on you through Facebook, Twitter
http://www.bizpacreview.com/2013/04/08/irs-spying-on-you-through-facebook-twitter-60352
Does Facebook spy on you, even after you’re logged out?
http://www.spywarewarrior.org/newsflash/does-facebook-spy-on-you-even-after-youre-logged-out.html
The Government is Spying On You Through Facebook Right…Now
http://singularityhub.com/2011/05/18/the-government-is-spying-on-you-through-facebook-right-now/
Facebook’s Spying On You For a Good Cause
http://motherboard.vice.com/blog/facebook-s-reading-your-messages-but-it-s-for-a-good-cause#ixzz2RVe1aNki
The FBI Is Spying On You: On Facebook, Twitter & Myspace
http://www.thisis50.com/profiles/blogs/the-fbi-is-spying-on-you-on
Many people watch you every move on Facebook
http://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/whos-watching-facebook-213557740.html

CASPER LEITCH ON FACEBOOK

How Facebook Could End Up Controlling Everything You Watch and Read Online


 

How many of you are reading this because of a link you clicked on Facebook? In the online publishing industry (which WIRED obviously is part of), Facebook’s influence on site traffic—and therefore ad revenue—is difficult to overstate. Over the past year especially, “the homepage is dead” has become a standard line among media pundits. And more than anything else, it’s Facebook that killed it.

Given that links appear to be more clickable when shared on Facebook, online publishers have scrambled to become savvy gamers of Facebook’s News Feed, seeking to divine the secret rules that push some stories higher than others. But all this genuflection at the altar of Facebook’s algorithms may be but a prelude to a more fundamental shift in how content is produced, shared, and consumed online. Instead of going to all this trouble to get people to click a link on Facebook that takes them somewhere else, the future of Internet content may be a world in which no video, article, or cat GIF gallery lives outside of Facebook at all.

The prospect of Facebook becoming the Internet’s ultimate content cannibal got a big push earlier this week by New York Times media columnist David Carr. In his column Monday, Carr said Facebook is talking to some publishers about simply hosting their pages itself. Facebook’s apparent pitch is it’s already got a mobile experience users love, so why not cut out the extra click and deliver content more directly in a way audiences prefer? Oh, and Facebook will share the ad revenue.

Publishers likely will balk at ceding so much control to Facebook. But in the end, they may not have much choice. The arrangement might sound like a partnership at first, but it could end up like Amazon and the book industry. Book publishers may hate dealing with Amazon and resent its influence over their sales. But the last thing they would do is pull their books from Amazon. Thanks to its outsized leverage, Facebook’s ability to dictate terms to online publishers could wind up much the same.

Mobile Money

As other media companies struggle to make mobile advertising pay, Facebook has become the master of the medium. In third-quarter earnings results reported Tuesday, the company posted a record $3.2 billion in revenue. Of that, nearly $2 billion came from mobile advertising. Facebook’s soaring growth to more than 1.3 billion monthly active users closely parallels its growth in mobile users. What’s more, mobile-only users account for one-third of Facebook’s user base.

For struggling publishers, going all-in with Facebook and getting even a tiny piece of that mobile ad money might seem much more appealing than limping along alone—and not just because Facebook has a proven ability to monetize mobile traffic. A publisher willing to place all of its content within Facebook’s walls could theoretically see that loyalty rewarded with better, more frequent placement in more News Feeds. Meanwhile, publishers that stubbornly stay on the outside might see their links get less of a boost. As a result, their traffic could suffer.

To be sure, Facebook has a strong interest in ensuring good stuff appears in users’ feeds, regardless of where that content calls home. If crappy content creators alone opt into a Facebook-only platform, and Facebook only promotes that crappy content, users might flee to where the good stuff lives. But Facebook probably wouldn’t be so blatant anyway. Its efforts at control will be more subtle.

Feed Frenzy

In Facebook’s earnings call Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned the prominent role he sees for content in Facebook’s future:

Video is a very big priority. News is a very big priority, because a lot of people want to share that on Facebook already. And enabling public figures, whether they are celebrities, they are athletes, they are actors, or politicians or leaders in different kind of communities to get on Facebook and use the platform to distribute the content that they want.

So those are the three areas that you’ll probably see us investing the most in over the next year or so.

If Zuckerberg calls something a “big priority,” relevant companies best take notice. This is the same CEO who also said products don’t really get interesting until they have about 1 billion people using them. Facebook is now well past that threshold, which shareholders will be thankful to know means Zuckerberg finds it an interesting business. Which from a business standpoint means he’s unlikely to compromise.

What might an uncompromising approach to content look like? Imagine a publisher posts a YouTube link to Facebook and gets a few “likes” and clicks. Then imagine that same publisher uploads a video to Facebook, and gets a lot more views and “likes.” Maybe it’s a fluke. But over time, a pattern emerges. The videos posted straight to Facebook get watched more. Soon enough, all their videos are going straight to Facebook. Perhaps over time, the process repeats itself for other kinds of content.

Content With Facebook

For Zuckerberg, the business rationale behind encouraging such a transition isn’t sticking it to publishers but to YouTube’s parent company Google, which has as much interest in seeing content continuing living on the web as Facebook does in encouraging that content to migrate off it. For that matter, any company that commands outsize audience attention online probably is within Facebook’s sights. For instance, the company no doubt would love to monetize the hours you spend binge-watching on Netflix.

Enter Facebook’s deal with Hollywood studio Lionsgate, which is set to release five short films based on the blockbuster Twilight franchise exclusively on Facebook next year. Facebook may have built its empire on content generated by users. But that empire has become so effective at commanding attention online that Facebook has no reason not to try its hand at original and exclusive professional-grade content. Time spent on Facebook is money for Facebook. If an online shopping site can start making TV shows people will watch, Facebook could, too.

As for owning the future of content, Facebook already does. The company’s $2 billion purchase of virtual-reality headset maker Oculus might seem to be an extravagance in the context of Facebook as it looks and functions today. No one needs to friend you in 3-D. But as Facebook catches up to the web as a content platform, a mature, consumer-ready version of Oculus could catapult the company ahead. Not that Zuckerberg is in a hurry. He said he pictures somewhere between 50 million and 100 million Oculus headsets sold over the next 10 years.

By then, Zuckerberg will be just 40 years old. It’s only natural that he take the long view of his company’s future. “We’re going to be here for decades,” Zuckerberg told Wall Street analysts Tuesday. But when it comes to content, the more important question might be: will anyone else?

CONTINUE READING…

DEA agent sued over Facebook decoy page


DEA agent sued over Facebook decoy page

This image obtained by The Associated Press shows a Facebook page for "Sondra Prince." The Justice Department said Tuesday it is reviewing a woman’s complaint that a Drug Enforcement Administration agent set up a fake Facebook account using her identity. AP

 

WASHINGTON – The Drug Enforcement Administration set up a fake Facebook account using photographs and other personal information it took from the cellphone of a New York woman arrested in a cocaine case, to trick her friends and associates into revealing incriminating drug secrets.

The Justice Department initially defended the practice in court filings but now says it is reviewing whether the Facebook guise went too far.

Sondra Arquiett’s Facebook account looked as real as any other. It included photos of her posing on the hood of a sleek BMW and a close-up with her young son and niece. She even appeared to write that she missed her boyfriend, who was identified by his nickname.

But it wasn’t her. The account was the work of DEA Agent Timothy Sinnigen, Arquiett said in a federal lawsuit. The case is scheduled for trial next week in Albany, New York.

Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement Tuesday that officials are reviewing both the incident and the practice, although in court papers filed earlier in the case, the federal government defended it. Fallon declined to comment further because the case is pending.

Details of the case were first reported by the online news site Buzzfeed.

Arquiett was arrested in July 2010 on charges of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. She was accused of being part of a drug distribution ring run by her boyfriend, who had been previously indicted.

In a court filing in August, the Justice Department contended that while Arquiett didn’t directly authorize Sinnigen to create the fake account, she "implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cellphone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in … ongoing criminal investigations."

The government also contended that the Facebook account was not public. A reporter was able to access it early Tuesday, though it was later disabled.

A spokesman for Facebook declined Tuesday to comment on the legal dispute. Facebook’s own policies appear to prohibit the practice, telling users that "You will not provide any false personal information on Facebook, or create an account for anyone other than yourself without permission."

Lawyers for Arquiett did not immediately respond to email and telephone messages from The Associated Press. Arquiett did not immediately respond to an email asking to discuss the case.

Arquiett said in her filing that she suffered "fear and great emotional distress" and was endangered because the fake page gave the impression that she was cooperating with Sinnigen’s investigation as he interacted online with "dangerous individuals he was investigating."

The fate of Arquiett’s fight against the government’s use of her identity online is unclear.

A staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation – a civil liberties organization – Nate Cardozo, said the government’s rationale was "laughable."

"If I’m cooperating with law enforcement, and law enforcement says, ‘Can I search your phone?’ and I hand it over to them, my expectation is that they will search the phone for evidence of a crime – not that they will take things that are not evidence off my phone and use it in another context," Cardozo said,

Lawrence Friedman, a privacy and constitutional law professor at New England Law-Boston, a law school, said the Arquiett’s "privacy claim rises and falls on the extent to which she consented to what it is the government says she consented to."

If Arquiett agreed to cooperate with an ongoing investigation and allow her phone to be used as part of that probe – as the government alleged in its court filing – then it would be harder for her to prove that her privacy rights were violated, Friedman said. If her phone were seized without consent, then she would have an easier claim.

"Basically, when you strike that kind of deal, you kind of have to play by the government’s rules," Friedman said. "This is not the ordinary situation in which the person walking down the street can have their identity stolen by the government," he said. "She was involved in a criminal investigation."

AP

CONTINUE READING…

The US government can brand you a terrorist based on a Facebook post. We can’t let them make up the rules


Innocent people’s lives are being ruined. Why isn’t anyone watching the watchlist?

Arjun Sethi

theguardian.com, Saturday 30 August 2014 09.00 EDT

 

facebook surveillance illustration

Reasonable suspicion is based on a circular logic – people can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists – that is ultimately backwards, and must be changed. Illustration: Joelle L / Flickr via Creative Commons Illustration: Joelle L / Flickr via Creative Commons

The US government’s web of surveillance is vast and interconnected. Now we know just how opaque, inefficient and discriminatory it can be.

As we were reminded again just this week, you can be pulled into the National Security Agency’s database quietly and quickly, and the consequences can be long and enduring. Through ICREACH, a Google-style search engine created for the intelligence community, the NSA provides data on private communications to 23 government agencies. More than 1,000 analysts had access to that information.

This kind of data sharing, however, isn’t limited to the latest from Edward Snowden’s NSA files. It was confirmed earlier this month that the FBI shares its master watchlist, the Terrorist Screening Database, with at least 22 foreign governments, countless federal agencies, state and local law enforcement, plus private contractors.

The watchlist tracks “known” and “suspected” terrorists and includes both foreigners and Americans. It’s also based on loose standards and secret evidence, which ensnares innocent people. Indeed, the standards are so low that the US government’s guidelines specifically allow for a single, uncorroborated source of information – including a Facebook or Twitter post – to serve as the basis for placing you on its master watchlist.

Of the 680,000 individuals on that FBI master list, roughly 40% have “no recognized terrorist group affiliation”, according to the Intercept. These individuals don’t even have a connection – as the government loosely defines it – to a designated terrorist group, but they are still branded as suspected terrorists.

The absurdities don’t end there. Take Dearborn, Michigan, a city with a population under 100,000 that is known for its large Arab American community – and has more watchlisted residents than any other city in America except New York.

These eye-popping numbers are largely the result of the US government’s use of a loose standard – so-called “reasonable suspicion” – in determining who, exactly, can be watchlisted.

Reasonable suspicion is such a low standard because it requires neither “concrete evidence” nor “irrefutable evidence”. Instead, an official is permitted to consider “reasonable inferences” and “to draw from the facts in light of his/her experience”.

Consider a real world context – actual criminal justice – where an officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop a person in the street and ask him or her a few questions. Courts have controversially held that avoiding eye contact with an officer, traveling alone, and traveling late at night, for example, all amount to reasonable suspicion.

This vague criteria is now being used to label innocent people as terrorism suspects.

Moreover, because the watchlist isn’t limited to known, actual terrorists, an official can watchlist a person if he has reasonable suspicion to believe that the person is a suspected terrorist. It’s a circular logic – individuals can be watchlisted if they are suspected of being suspected terrorists – that is ultimately backwards, and must be changed.

The government’s self-mandated surveillance guidance also includes loopholes that permit watchlisting without even showing reasonable suspicion. For example, non-citizens can be watchlisted for being associated with a watchlisted person – even if their relationship with that person is entirely innocuous. Another catch-all exception allows non-citizens to be watchlisted, so long as a source or tipster describes the person as an “extremist”, a “militant”, or in similar terms, and the “context suggests a nexus to terrorism”. The FBI’s definition of “nexus”, in turn, is far more nebulous than they’re letting on.

Because the watchlist designation process is secret, there’s no way of knowing just how many innocent people are added to the list due to these absurdities and loopholes. And yet, history shows that innocent people are inevitably added to the list and suffer life-altering consequences. Life on the master watchlist can trigger enhanced screening at borders and airports; being on the No Fly List, which is a subset of the larger terrorist watchlist, can prevent airline travel altogether. The watchlist can separate family members for months or years, isolate individuals from friends and associates, and ruin employment prospects.

Being branded a terrorism suspect also has far-reaching privacy implications. The watchlist is widely accessible, and government officials routinely collect the biometric data of watchlisted individuals, including their fingerprints and DNA strands. Law enforcement has likewise been directed to gather any and all available evidence when encountering watchlisted individuals, including receipts, business cards, health information and bank statements.

Watchlisting is an awesome power, and if used, must be exercised prudently and transparently.

The standards for inclusion should be appropriately narrow, the evidence relied upon credible and genuine, and the redress and review procedures consistent with basic constitutional requirements of fairness and due process. Instead, watchlisting is being used arbitrarily under a cloud of secrecy.

A watchlist saturated with innocent people diverts attention from real, genuine threats. A watchlist that disproportionately targets Arab and Muslim Americans or other minorities stigmatizes innocent people and alienates them from law enforcement. A watchlist based on poor standards and secret processes raises major constitutional concerns, including the right to travel freely and not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law.

Indeed, you can’t help but wonder: are you already on the watchlist?

CONTINUE READING…

Jennica Stein Yesterday at 2:26pm POLICE ARE EVERYWHERE


Jennica Stein

Yesterday at 2:26pm

POLICE ARE EVERYWHERE

First, this is VERY important to read and understand. I’m doing my best to look out for all the Facebook Users who aren’t as tech savvy as their kids or friends. I’m trying to help explain what’s happening because if I don’t…nobody else will!

If you’re anything like your neighbor…you probably use Facebook on your phone WAY more than you use it on a computer. You’ve been sending messages from the Facebook app and it probably always asks you if you want to install the Facebook Messenger App.

Its always been OPTIONAL but coming soon to your Facebook experience….it won’t be an option…it will be mandatory if you care to send messages from your phone.

No big deal one might think…but the part that the average Facebook User doesn’t realize is the permissions you must give to Facebook in order to use the Facebook Messenger App. Here is a short list of the most disturbing permissions it requires and a quick explanation of what it means to you and your privacy.

Change the state of network connectivity – This means that Facebook can change or alter your connection to the Internet or cell service. You’re basically giving Facebook the ability to turn features on your phone on and off for its own reasons without telling you.
Call phone numbers and send SMS messages – This means that if Facebook wants to…it can send text messages to your contacts on your behalf. Do you see the trouble in this? Who is Facebook to be able to access and send messages on your phone? You’re basically giving a stranger your phone and telling them to do what they want when they want!
Record audio, and take pictures and videos, at any time – Read that line again….RECORD audio…TAKE pictures….AT ANY TIME!! That means that the folks at Facebook can see through your lens on your phone whenever they want..they can listen to what you’re saying via your microphone if they choose to!!
Read your phone’s call log, including info about incoming and outgoing calls – Who have you been calling? How long did you talk to them? Now Facebook will know all of this because you’ve downloaded the new Facebook messenger app.
Read your contact data, including who you call and email and how often – Another clear violation of your privacy. Now Facebook will be able to read e-mails you’ve sent and take information from them to use for their own gain. Whether it’s for “personalized advertisements” or if it’s for “research purposes” ….whatever the reason..they’re accessing your private encounters.
Read personal profile information stored on your device – This means that if you have addresses, personal info, pictures or anything else that’s near and dear to your personal life…they can read it.
Get a list of accounts known by the phone, or other apps you use – Facebook will now have a tally of all the apps you use, how often you use them and what information you keep or exchange on those apps.

Hopefully, you take this as serious as I do…after reading more about it and studying the permissions I have now deleted the app from my phone and don’t intend to use it ever again. I still have my Facebook app but I just won’t use the messaging feature unless I’m at a computer. Even then, I might not use messaging anymore.

With these kinds of privacy invasions I think Facebook is pushing the limits to what people will let them get away with. I remember when the Internet first began its march toward socializing dominance when AOL would send us CD’s for free trials every week. On AOL, we made screen names that somewhat hid our identities and protected us against the unseen dangers online. Now, it seems that we’ve forgotten about that desire to protect our identity and we just lay down and let them invade our privacy.

There may be no turning back at this point because many people won’t read this or investigate the permissions of Facebook’s new mandatory app but at least I can say I tried to help us put up a fight. Pass this along to your friends and at least try to let them know what they’re getting into.

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