Facebook

Quit bashing the successful

If you spend enough time on Facebook, you’re bound to see some of the meme’s floating around about income inequality.  They point out how little one group of people make, then talk about how some CEO brings in so much more than they do.  These memes are designed to point out how gross the difference of income truly is and try to motivate people to oppose the discrepancy.

They’re also completely irrelevant.

Folks, I have run two businesses.  Both were classified as small businesses.  I own one, and was running a friends for a little while.  I know a little bit about business at this point.  Not a lot, but a little.  One thing I do know for sure is, it ain’t easy and not just anyone can do it.  This is also true of a lot of other aspects of business.  Here’s an example from Democracy for America.

DFA Meme

Now, it’s pretty obvious the difference in income.  Of course, it’s also irrelevant.  While Ray Dalio’s income really is pretty high, there are some key differences between what he does and what a teacher does.

First, teachers are far more common than hedge fund managers.  That automatically dilutes the market for their skills.  Second, Dalio works year round and most likely puts in some pretty insane hours.  That includes a lot of weekend and holidays, periods when teachers are off from work.  In addition, that summer vacation that teachers get?  Probably not a factor for Dalio.

Tech firms finally call for NSA surveillance reforms

After months of mostly silence on the National Security Agency’s bulk data collection programs, which includes obtaining information of Americans’ phone calls and Internet records, leading tech firms have finally spoken out and launched a campaign for reform.

A half dozen firms — including Facebook, Google, Twiter, and Microsoft — have written letter to President Barack Obama and members of Congress in which they explain that the federal government must reform laws to protect Americans’ privacy. The firms have also launched a website — ReformGovernmentSurveillance.com — that outlines the principles of reform.

“We understand that governments have a duty to protect their citizens. But this summer’s revelations highlighted the urgent need to reform government surveillance practices worldwide,” wrote the firms in the letter. “The balance in many countries has tipped too far in favor of the state and away from the rights of the individual — rights that are enshrined in our Constitution. This undermines the freedoms we all cherish. It’s time for a change.”

“For our part, we are focused on keeping users’ data secure — deploying the latest encryption technology to prevent unauthorized surveillance on our networks and by pushing back on government requests to ensure that they are legal and reasonable in scope,” the letter continues.

The Rise of Digital On Demand Media

online...

This morning I was a mentor. This afternoon, a boss. Later, after lunch, an employee which, in turn, allowed for me to provide for my family. Let’s not forget this evening when I opened my books and was a student.

If this were my life a decade ago I would quite easily forget, or neglect, my right to know what was going on around me in my community, my state, my nation, and my world. The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, The NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, or CNN’s Lou Dobbs Tonight and Anderson Cooper 360º would have just past me by without notice.

Today, with the revolution of online media and digital forms of journalism it allows for any multi-tasking individual with ADD, such as myself, to stay current with events happening around the world, or just down the street. The depth that I want to consume myself in the information depends solely on how much time I have in between appointments. I tell Anderson Cooper when he can and cannot speak.

Getting information about current events through internet sources has given me the opportunity to stay informed on the go. Corporate news networks on television dictate when you can listen and they have the same tone and message with slightly different undertones and agendas to appeal to a certain demographic, but still manage to deliver the same generic stories.

Dysfunctional Bedfellows: Free Speech, Capitalism and Social Media

Enjoy Capitalism

Libertarians and conservatives alike either are intimately aware of problems with speaking out on social media, or they are residing under virtual rocks. In spite of the proliferation of liberty-minded individuals on networks like Twitter and Facebook, those platforms are anything but welcoming to freedom-oriented content.

On Twitter, there is the hated “gulag” that silences conservatives by exploiting an auto-account suspension rubric, or at least that is the explanation offered by the company. As for Facebook, it’s often turned into page suspensions and deletions for gun dealers, and conservative or libertarian commentators.

Now, Facebook has ended up in the headlines over problems with questionable content. They are now going to take a much more proactive stance when it comes to hate speech on their network. Of course this was at the behest of at least one feminist organization. That is not to say that this wasn’t necessary. Of course, there should be serious action taken to prevent content that promotes violence against anyone. However, this is definitely political pandering, and arguably for the benefit of the least profitable portion of Facebook’s “clientele.”

Standing on the Sidelines is Not an Option for the Freedom Movement

Below is the speech I gave last night at the FreedomWorks’ Spring Break College Summit at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Washington, DC.

Before I get down to the crux of my talk this evening, I’ve gotta say, watching Senator Rand Paul’s epic 13-hour filibuster on Wednesday was nothing short of inspirational. For more than half a day, Senator Paul — aided at times by some of his colleagues, including Mike Lee and Ted Cruz — gave a brilliant defense of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and challenged the notion of perpetual war.

While Democrats in Congress have claimed to be champions of civil liberties, it was the Tea Party, led by Senator Paul, defending due process. It was the Tea Party making the case against a government that could arbitrarily kill its own citizens on American soil. And it was the Tea Party who was fighting against an extraordinary expansion of executive power.

The message got out there. Senator Paul gained some 40,000 new followers on Twitter and the social media service reported that over 1-million tweets were sent about the filibuster. Ironically, it was Politico that recently suggested that hashtags were no longer relevant. The hashtag, #StandWithRand, pretty much killed that notion.

C-SPAN confirmed that they had received viewership that was on par with events like the presidential inauguration. The filibuster also had the profound effect of gaining support from individuals and groups who aren’t typically fans of Republicans, including John Cusack, Van Jones, and Code Pink.

And not only was this a courageous stand against a President who has abused his authority, but it was also a rejection of the GOP’s past, and they’re losing their minds because of it. We saw that the next morning when John McCain and Lindsey Graham had a complete meltdown on the Senate floor.

Hey, Let’s Not Nationalize Facebook

Dislike (Radiant)

There are dumb ideas…and then there are really dumb ideas. And then there are, so to say, Congressional politicians. We’re not quite at that level yet, but it seems like it. I am of course, referring to a rather silly piece in Slate magazine titled “Let’s Nationalize Facebook,” written by one Phillip N. Howard, a professor of communications and information technology from the University of Washington. His reasons for doing so are:

Over the last several years, Facebook has become a public good and an important social resource. But as a company, it is behaving badly, and long term, that may cost it: A spring survey found that almost half of Americans believe that Facebook will eventually fade away. Even the business side has been a bit of a disaster lately, with earnings lower than expected and the news that a significant portion of Facebook profiles are fake. If neither users nor investors can be confident in the company, it’s time we start discussing an idea that might seem crazy: nationalizing Facebook.

The Land of the Fee and Home of the Slave

In the days leading up to the IPO (Initial Public Offering) of Facebook stock as it became a publicly traded company, much of the news surrounding the company was made not by founder Mark Zuckerberg, but by Eduardo Saverin, a young man who became very rich after he invested his life savings in that unknown company running out of a Harvard dorm room. Saverin had announced that he was renouncing his U.S. citizenship, preferring to make his ties with Singapore instead.

In the aftermath of his announcement, it was claimed that he was doing so in order to avoid the heavy tax burden placed on his wealth by the United States. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), a man of whom former Senator Bob Dole once said that “the most dangerous place in Washington is between Charles Schumer and a television camera,” wasted no time in turning this into face time with the press to score political points, joining with fellow Democrat, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) in announcing their intention to submit the “Ex-PATRIOT” Act.

According to Schumer, this law would “re-impose taxes on expatriates like Saverin even after they flee the United States and take up residence in a foreign country.” Like a modern-day Rasputin, this would enact into law the assumption that politicians have supernatural powers of mind-reading, and would presume any person who renounced U.S. citizenship, while having a net worth greater than $2 million, or an average five-year income tax liability of at least $148,000, had done so for the purpose of tax avoidance. The law, eviscerating the Constitution’s presumption of “innocent until proven guilty” principle, would require the individual to prove to the IRS that they’d not done so for tax avoidance purposes, or risk additional capital gains taxes on any future investment gains.

SOPA/PIPA opponents score a victory

While former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and other supporters of SOPA and PIPA have lashed out at companies and websites that participated in yesterday’s “blackout,” it certainly seems as though opponents of the two bills carried the day:

Members of the Senate are rushing for the exits in the wake of the Internet’s unprecedented protest of the Protect IP Act (PIPA). At least 13 members of the upper chamber announced their opposition on Wednesday. In a particularly severe blow from Hollywood, at least five of the newly-opposed Senators were previously sponsors of the Protect IP Act.

The newly-opposed Senators are skewed strongly to the Republican side of the aisle. An Ars Technica survey of Senators’ positions on PIPA turned up only two Democrats, Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), who announced their opposition on Wednesday. The other 11 Senators who announced their opposition on Wednesday were all Republicans. These 13 join a handful of others, including Jerry Moran (R-KS), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Ron Wyden (D-OR), who have already announced their opposition.

Marco Rubio, a freshman Republican Senator from Florida who some consider to be a rising star, withdrew his sponsorship of the bill, citing “legitimate concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to the Internet and about a potentially unreasonable expansion of the federal government’s power to impact the Internet.” He urged the Senate to “avoid rushing through a bill that could have many unintended consequences.”

Some Tips on Discretion and Common Sense

I have watched (somewhat in disbelief) the episode with Congressman Weiner unfold.  When discussing it with friends, I initially argued that somebody smart enough to get elected to Congress would be smart enough to not to post those certain types of photos online – or at the very least would be clever enough not to do it from his official Twitter account.

But I was wrong.  As my dad would say, common sense is apparently not too common.

In case there are others who insist on misbehaving online and who could benefit from a lesson in common sense, here are some things you should consider to obfuscate your real identity:

Facebook Privacy - An Oxymoron (Part 2)

Here’s a clear outline of Facebook’s privacy policy changes.  It’s the trend I talked about in my original Facebook Privacy - An Oxymoron post.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2005:

No personal information that you submit to Thefacebook will be available to any user of the Web Site who does not belong to at least one of the groups specified by you in your privacy settings.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2006:

We understand you may not want everyone in the world to have the information you share on Facebook; that is why we give you control of your information. Our default privacy settings limit the information displayed in your profile to your school, your specified local area, and other reasonable community limitations that we tell you about.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa 2007:

Profile information you submit to Facebook will be available to users of Facebook who belong to at least one of the networks you allow to access the information through your privacy settings (e.g., school, geography, friends of friends). Your name, school name, and profile picture thumbnail will be available in search results across the Facebook network unless you alter your privacy settings.

Facebook Privacy Policy circa November 2009:

Facebook is designed to make it easy for you to share your information with anyone you want. You decide how much information you feel comfortable sharing on Facebook and you control how it is distributed through your privacy settings. You should review the default privacy settings and change them if necessary to reflect your preferences. You should also consider your settings whenever you share information. …


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