Recent investigations on fake news, bought up propaganda adverts and fake accounts run from Russia have only been indicative of our position that Facebook’s major business use case is political propaganda marketeering targeting the vulnerable and poor. And it’s just a tip of the ice-burg.
*empowerment or entrapment? remember internet.org?
The current world focus is just looking at a major mal-practice in the guise of “empower the world” which “allegedly” very recently inflicted massive damage to a first world democracy.
But to keep this record straight, and keeping the third world honor of being the first at pretty much everything including the discovery of “Zero”, “Yoga”, “Turmeric”, “Black Pepper”, “Mango Lassi”, “Butter Chicken” etc.
The things which are coming to light now are not the “alleged” novelty discovery of a certain “first world” politician or powers.
The practice started way back and is so institutional that Indian media doesn't even talk about it for the criminality of it. It's a celebrated practice now.
These few recent articles - BJP May Have Created A Monster With Its Troll Army, But Amit Shah Understands It May Turn On Them One Day, and - Congress social media makeover bets on 3 lakh WhatsApp groups, data analytics, story engines or NDTV Exclusive: The 'Silver Touch' Behind BJP's Online Dominance?tell the sorry state of affairs. And this is happening at such a widely publicised manner, it now implicates the very companies like Facebook owners of WhatsApp on active collusion.
If such blatant admission of mal-practice is blaring at full volume in mass media and a mare internet search away -can't be picked by "Technology Giants" with hundreds of billions in war chest and "The Best" minds working at their offices is beyond belief, it indicates "criminal intent" of working for hand in glove with the cronies subjugating a major democracy in the world and celebrating it.
*But this (an actual RT by the president of the USA - after-Charlottesville-trump-retweets-then-deletes-image-of-train-running-over-CNN-reporter) is something new from even India's standards. In India normally we have thugs in PR agencies and cyber cells running these kinds of "opposition" or "Journalist" bashing campaigns. It only shows the nascent stages this practice is in the USA and the blatant brute force fueling the growth. What is coming up? read on...
It’s a practice just “allegedly” copied from the third world, where this is a very different dimension now.
Yes, Facebook is not only hand in gloves but is making big money off this collusion, we have reasons to believe so and this research article is aiming to dig deeper.
Yes, and politicians or the agencies are talking, telling each other “the secret” building a new world order, they have smelled the blood.
Mr. Zuckerberg and his partners should be investigated for their crimes against humanity with a wider angle - Owing to historic proportions of these and larger future implications due to the overall social structure breakdowns across the world by the naked, blatant crony capitalism involved.
And yes, all that talk of “fixing” the holes etc. is a hogwash. The holes which “they” aim to fix is the real “business model”. If they plug it there wouldn’t be any facebook left and it might be just a languishing penny stock in stock markets.
The Fake in Facebook?
If you are a business owner, you must have come across those rainmakers, who will flash their Rolodex, swipe your credit card, for free client lunches and get paid for the hugs and kisses you just bought with your own marketing budget. They will linger till you do the ROI for last two-quarters, count all your hugs and kisses, and then look at your empty wallet, and then fire the “Rain Maker”.
The Rainmaker will add you to their Rolodex and move on hunting for the next guy in distress with some money. The World is not just round, its big too.
Now, what is facebook – When you collect a ton of these wandering “Rain Makers” under one mega roof, strip them of any dignity, hook them into a bot and boom you got facebook.
And that's how it started and now has taken such a monstrous proportion.
We will touch upon a few larger topics around outright fraud, the gray areas, the politics, the economic and moral worm-hole, tale of two economies and massive democracies USA and India. And how this thing has hurt both badly.
Facebook has a market capitalization of $407 B (2017) – and so are the riches of Mr. Zuckerberg- e.g. Mark Zuckerberg to tear down and rebuild four houses surrounding his home and his Friends who own stakes in the company, and has below numbers to back its valuation in share markets.
1. Facebook at the beginning of 2016 was a 100 times valuation based on its 12 months earning. Which is huge by any standards.
What does it mean? People anticipated that the company will earn and create value at a very high pace going forward and so will the stock prices will rise, which defined the current price and momentum.
To put this in perspective for readers from non-finance background
E.g. if you are a cotton candy seller with a shop selling $100 of “cotton candy” per day and so is its “valuation” and I own 10% of it so $10 is my valuation, now say we listed this shop in stock market and somehow created an illusion that there are “Arabic sheikhs children” coming in hoards to buy my cotton and I also literally own all sugar fields in the world, so “market” please put P/E of 100 on me which inflates shops future valuation to $10,000 and my stake’s valuation to $1000 which is 100 times what my worth should be. I’m rich!!
2. Facebook keeps the market valuations, advertiser’s “interests” and related revenues based on two very important numbers.
Facebook sold these numbers, to begin with to the shareholders on stock markets which bloated its valuation, created a halo of invincibility and the “de facto” “IT” guys in the marketing world. This is called "Buzz" in silicon valley terms a practice repeated by many.
These valuations and numbers put them on a rampage of acquisition, PR campaigns, influencer marketing and got them on every marketer’s radar. These kinds of numbers create an illusion and take you beyond doubts of a “regular” mid-level marketing manager and Facebook creates numbers for these managers to keep their Jobs. As a matter of record - they corrupted a very important business model of a very useful service "WhatsApp" by not requiring one dollar annual fee and a credit card on file.
Whatsapp was huge even with one dollar fee charged, had 500 million users expanding at 1 million users per month - Read - Whatsapp the best ever Facebook purchase ever But Facebook never had "profit" plans dealing with real users, with a dollar annual fee gone it opened a pandora box and did build "amazing" numbers for Facebook as a corporation.
Whatsapp is de-facto standard in Propaganda and social unrest creating fake news, rumor mongering in places like India - Hope it sees the same kind of investigation soon in the USA, as there is no hope in India to get to the bottom of it. In a very recent submission, the Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh himself was Quoted appealing - Not to forward whatsapp messages by anti-nationals. And there are a ton of such reports from India.
To create the numbers and sell them to the marketers for their own private profits Facebook put lives of billions at peril.
But is the market waking up? Yes, Bosses have been questioning. The fake users on facebook is not something now only known secretly in the digital marketing realms to keep making money out of those impressions.
As per - estimates on Facebook users by geography
The numbers in Asia grew by 32 times and 25 times in “Rest of the World” between 2009 and 2017. With only 35% of the users in the USA and Europe.
The number of users in USA and Europe rose by 4.5 and 6.8 times, we will debate that too.
Now fun fact – I stopped using facebook way back in 2012 and didn’t care if people were still using it, even then as a regular user - may only use to push out pictures and have my friends like it for fun, maybe once a few months and that was pretty much the use case of everyone I knew.
It’s a public toilet, drain out if you are bloated. I snapped out after seeing a lot of scribbles on the walls all around, and many of them were purely written in bile and not “prescribed” as on Facebook scriptures of ordinary facebook use case.
When we started on ballotboxIndia.com sometimes in 2016 I came to know “no” it’s still alive and making money. All the marketing “textbooks” were full of “how to” on Facebook marketing.
But practical experiments with a focus on results and not the number of likes quickly snapped us out of it too, we just had too many useless "likes" from accounts which made no sense.
These numbers are some serious baloney, to begin with
1. Even if we believe it's all hunky dory, “Tiny sheiks” in the USA and Europe are not the same as “tiny sheiks” from Asia and “Rest of the world”. And can’t be treated at par.
*Above viral video from some "seemingly" politically affiliated "Hindu supremacist" trolls group from "Asia and the Rest of the world" singing "Chinese weapons are fake, so they should STFU, and our strong leader is so strong that Trump Fetches water for him etc." and about 140,000 "accounts" liking it and sharing - can't be compared to a legitimate user from the USA and Europe who might buy yellow bag when nudged after liking a yellow shoe bought by a friend.
And BTW above video is another example how such an undercurrent of bigotry filled garbage floats around and made viral by the "affiliated agencies" with Facebook in direct collusion. The modus is very same now under investigation in the USA for presidential elections. Here too multiple agencies are involved, in this case - This video was shared on a Facebook page and promoted in an article by another spewing sewerage on the internet site called thellalantop.com , the Facebook page of thelallantop has more than 2.25 million "followers" and is owned by the India today group which is a major news organization. . And if you follow the affiliations of a few accounts involved it will open up an amazing array of the dark web woven over time with Facebook at the center of it.
*Above is a pictorial representation of the "dark net" built over time by the "Alt Right" sites from a beautiful report done by theGuardian- Google, democracy and the truth about internet search
The web built by the likes of lallantop and affiliates is also huge over Google but on facebook and twitter it's massive and mind-boggling. Looking at the sheer size of efforts put in and the amount of garbage floating around to win elections. Facebook we believe seems to be very much hand in glove and should be investigated.
And to the actual point of this article - No a common person using Facebook in Europe is not the same as people part of this wider darker net for political propaganda and the "vulnerables" sucked into this system as the targets of this.
2. Now on “Tiny Sheikhs” in USA and Europe – Are you sure many of them are not “VPN” tiny sheiks. Can facebook ask them to put their social or credit card? Geo Taggings are too easy to fake.
Time to shed the cloak of “always free” as charity. We dare facebook to prove these numbers from the USA and Europe with a valid credit card, with the clear message on impersonation treated as the felony, charge 1 dollar then give it back and allow them to create their “social network” only when they do so. And open this for random independent audit.
Since for the USA and Europe (alleged 35% on FB), Zuckerberg can drain the swamp by simply following step #2 and these will be legit numbers who will buy that “yellow bag” if they liked “yellow boots” sometime back.
1. Not Fake but not really the promised “Tiny Sheikhs looking for cotton candy” accounts. - The like farms in India i.e. “Asia and the Rest of the World” part of 65% of Facebook.
Silicon Valley – TV Series had a scene which always sticks out. Richard (the CEO of a tech company) was depressed and was not getting any users for Pied-Piper. Jared calls a guy, buys a few thousand users, cheered everyone up. Those few thousand users led to a $ 7 Million valuation of The pied piper. Which of course Richard (since he is a good guy) blows the whistles on – As any Silicon Valley CEO would. Nice Story.
*Above - Courtesy HBO a screen grab from silicon valley - Television Series.
Now many would say-
"it’s a figment of the imagination", "used to happen", "was the so early 2000s and facebook and google have very smart “algorithms” created by some of the best in the world etc.
But these arguments made in press releases to keep the valuations are wrong, and here is why.
Socialtradebiz had a whole army of “like farms” with close to 700,000 people clicking likes on Facebook were not the “tiny sheiks” lusting for cotton candy. How many such armies are operating in India is anyone’s guess.
As per news report as early as 2004 indicating similar armies of “google ad sense” clickers from India does indicate that creating fake impressions and likes is a very mature business.
Follow this Socialtradebiz trail over the internet and facebook itself and the number of rings active will boggle your mind.
And how deep is this rot considering similar rings in Bangladesh, Pakistan and the “Rest of the World” which makes 65% of their user base and engagement?
It was very strange that the case was hushed after a few days of high drama. Luckily we could grab a screengrab right on time to prove the likes were actually going to Facebook and were part of their engagement metrics.
We personally know families who were doing this sitting home all day, many did get out to Jantar Mantar (Delhi’s protest ground) to protest and plead to release the mastermind. There was a huge political support to considering a lot of the “clickers” were villagers and farmers who lost their livelihood due to very unfavorable nature of real farming in India and were close to breaking down.
Facebook with its bunch of “elite hackers” are too timid to beat this. Or they actually don’t want to and looking the other way? Do they care till it directly profits them by legitimizing the whole “likes and engagement logic”, is anyone's guess?
This is a valid case for anyone wanting to make money out of Facebook, it works like this and a tested strategy by many scoopy, woopy clickbaity, “happy”, “bright” lallantop websites operating off India, mostly owned by major media group.
Generate these numbers using facebook bots or these “services”, and use these numbers as a bait to grab “ad space”. It’s a very simple mathematics – spend $10 on “buying” these likes or follows directly from Facebook or these services and use these numbers to book ads. If you can book ads worth $11 you are in the money. Modus operand of pretty much all the garbage floating around the Internet is this only and facebook is a perfect place to create such numbers with the stamp of a “Stock Exchange Giant”. These numbers give a legitimacy too for unsuspecting eyes on any political fake propaganda.
Let me tell you one story. Once was watching a video grab of a prominent leader in India boasting of his close to a million followers on Facebook. Guess what, I was talking to his “400 followers” right in front of me.
How this is done – Check out this video report on the much needed Democratic reforms in India (Around 13:20), where the agents are putting up rate cards for services of providing troll and fake news service on these platforms to the politicians.
Facebook directly makes engagement numbers and advert money from the “approved” budget, and as per our “hypothesis” indirectly creates revenues out of these political patronages by looking the other way and being a part of indirect ad bookings from affiliated businesses. We want Facebook to be investigated for it, not just in the USA but every third world country with democratic institutions.
Two live examples of Political PR pages on Facebook and collusion, very similar to what is now investigated in the USA. Note - Here we in no way are indicating any linkages with Actual Mr. Modi. For that matter, it might be a page created by Vested Interest from any spectrum, maybe Malign Mr. Modi hypothetically by making him look like saying things he would never say really ever.
2.5 Million Followers, Using Mr. Modi face, mygov.in for the website, sharing inflammatory, bigotry and pure garbage click baits like -
Here is the page - iSuportNamo
Another page - @NamoPMFor19
These pages come out quickly with millions in following, spew garbage all around and then disappear. IF you follow wheels under wheels it's not difficult to find patterns of a "Dark Web" running these very expensive pieces of machinery at tandem.
And Facebook is littered with these.
All the posts are garbage fests, seems like from one or very closely running agencies only, it consists of “fake news”, “sex-hawking clickbait’s”, and crude praises for one set of leaders and real garbage for others, it has “love your soldiers”, “Hindu supremacist”, warmongering etc.
Very much targeted to the vulnerable sections of society and are playing a huge role in consent creation, disturbing community harmony, filling up people with hate for other community and of course winning elections while dumbing the citizens further.
It will pose as a “fan operated page” and try to show as close to authentic to the vulnerable population as possible.
India or similar countries have very low penetration or relevant education or know-how needed to understand anything about the internet or these new cool things. It’s a new fancy thing they just got in small towns and villages, many of them are using cheap mobile phones and can’t even type, they just get these corruptions, the poison everyday drop by drop.
These are elders, young impressionable, even many "tech wannabe" university professors bartering their children future for a "few likes", grandparents and a huge population of "technology "want to be immigrants" posing for the marketing brute force of a $450 Billion empire.
And the biggest rub is the "supposed" facebook’s mechanism on tackle all this. Especially being a mega giant hogging such a huge space in public domain and with so much of money.
1. There is no reporting mechanism, no customer care number or any assistance if they post anything which can really create havoc. Like the WhatsApp incited lynching in Jharkhand. -
2. If you try to report it, below is what happens. - As an alarmed citizen I tried to report it as a "Scam" which is pretty true.
To put it in simpler words what happened here :
I saw a murder going on and tried to call 911 or 100 in India, and I got two probable responses -
Look the other way and you wouldn't see the stabs and blood oozing out of humanity's neck.
We will drag the half dead humanity right behind the wall.. okay, so you wouldn't hear any screams or blood"
There are multiple reasons to believe this.
1. They make it too easy for such agencies to operate praying on unsuspecting vulnerable digital immigrants or wannabees and these are not small pages. E.g. older, less educated i.e. the masses or the voters, "The Base"
2. They make it too difficult to track these pages, they keep popping up and gone on a regular basis, cleaning up their acts. E.g. the page with 600,000 likes is not even one-year-old.
3. They have no mechanism to report these pages. Since they create engagement numbers for them so anything stopping that is stopped by high barriers. They don't even put an email or a phone number to report or quickly track.
4. And this one is huge - facebook has the technology to easily flag such pages, the picture can be easily flagged with pattern matching computer programs (algorithms). On both these pages, they are using Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Ji’s high-quality photograph as the profile picture, are not verified and have millions in followership and are posting as fast as violent diarrhea. Facebook is not flagging these and letting them operate on its servers - indicates a massive collusion.
Now our other hypothesis, that in such countries Facebook is making money out of some kind of quid pro quo scheme. Like older media used to work, powerful and vested interests can arm twist any advertisement dependent media organization with ad money.
We do have reasons to believe so and since the stakes are so large should be investigated by the authorities with highest of moral integrity.
Our Allegation and Hypothesis -
facebook is getting paid in “ad” money by allied businesses with the powerful vested interest forces to let their propaganda run on this platform. The whole Advertisement based model is a sham and is simply acting as a conduit to funnel money, inflating its revenues in lieu of subverting a democracy
Facebook revenue and engagement numbers should be re-measured in the light of above pieces of evidence. And investors should ask if they would keep feeding their families of this blood money.
1. Facebook should be forced to do this cleanup right away in countries like USA and Europe where it’s tougher to run and organize such practices (till now) due to social and legal norms. But can’t say such for users created over VPN from “Asia and Rest of the World” and operated as such.
2. In Countries like India, Pakistan or Bangladesh Facebook can't-do anything and should cease operating.
Look at the revenue numbers while the number of users on Facebook in Europe and USA is 35%, the revenue coming out of the first world is 75%. And simply by these numbers, Mr. Zuckerbergor any CEO with any kind of sanity will simply operate in the USA and Europe.
As a sane business manager with just 35% of the server and infra cost I’m making 75% of my revenues, why wouldn’t I just leave “Rest of the World” and “Asia-Pacific” and all that garbage associated with it.
Here are multiple theories on this phenomenon.
1. Facebook is defrauding American and European businesses showing numbers generated from “Rest of the world and Asia-Pacific” customers. So essentially facebook is either operating many such fake like, impression rings in these countries or piggybacking on what is created by the “agencies”. Its also inflating its investor's riches.
2. Facebook’s money is coming out of subversion of democracies as explained above and this across the border payments and rings really work for them. E.g may be rabid cyber cells running from India are paid for from entities in the USA or Europe. In the same way, rabid cyber cells impacting USA presidential elections were “allegedly” organized by the Russia and similar.
Facebook might be deploying any one or both strategies.
If we forget all the incentives created by these fake accounts and in an improbable situation say Mr. Zuckerberg’s got visited by his God and threatened with a passage to hell and is asked to clean up his act, here is why he can't-do anything about in countries like India.
1. Indians are way too smart and hardworking than any of your bots. You can keep closing accounts, these agencies will keep creating.
2. It's too easy to get many phone numbers cheap in India can cost less than half a dollar, with a mega push for free data and bandwidth.
3. I have seen facebook ask for driver’s license to verify if the user goes too fast sending friend request etc. Cute. By his own submission, Indian Union Minister Mr. Gadkari has confirmed 30% of our driver’s licenses are fake and that’s only government numbers. Sir, our folks are gaming the biometric system AADHAR (biometric unique ID system) .
Indians and for that argument, the whole region has a bustling mine of starving hungry talent with the ingenuity of older generation geniuses. Try putting in barriers and they will break it and if nothing works, try our "Religious supremacists" backing these operations, I guess you will get the picture.
4. These agencies are very strong and backed by some seriously powerful people. High offices sitting in Silicon Valley have no chance of making any dent.
Facebook has hurt democracies around the world, colluded to subvert human rights and has created crony monsters all around.
Powerful and people with vested interests are using this to build their own fiefdoms, media houses are getting corrupted with Journalists shunning journalistic practices in favor of working for these PR rings, Facebook and WhatsApp are igniting lynchings and riots in cities and villages alike in India.
Billions of dollars of man-hours are wasted running propaganda, procrastinating. Human relations, cultural, society values are badly crushed and people are getting more and more isolated from people and what is happening around. And it all is happening so a crony capitalist can build one more 750-acre mansion and build higher walls and a politician can aim for eternal dictatorship.
And that’s why I call these facebook bosses criminals and should be investigated at par. Even they mend their acts, wind down operations they should be held for the crimes of epic proportions they committed in past.
We monitor Indian politics and the dangerously breaking state of it right now due to the Fakeness of Facebook seeking to make profits out subverting the information channels people rely on, which is crude and inhuman by any standards. Society is breaking apart, people hostile and with ever losing trust in the system and each other. Crony capitalism is at its peak with no recourse, we have many examples but one stands out is - Gomti Riverfront Development and Related mega scams where we have seen the system up close. Our public transparency systems are institutionally broken. Governments can invalidate 80% of currency in circulation sending economy and everyone else in a tailspin without even a parliamentary discussion on it, allegedly just to win a state election and "supposedly" beat the opposition to submission. Journalists are killed at whim and fancy for allegedly being critical, or marginalized by the sheer size of institutional propaganda network. There is lynch mob which can be activated through WhatsApp.
Now living in the USA for more than a decade now one marked difference which I have noticed is, the country and the communities are way too much dependent on common human courtesy, in general, and a level of honor and shame in public life. The society is not equipped to really go through what India or similar have been going through under the assault of Facebook and likes of Twitter as detailed herein another research - Why Mr. Jack Dorsey should do humanity a favor and shut down Twitter?
If a breakdown like India happens here, the impacts would be way bigger. Communities just don't have those extra cushions of resilience and add the sheer number of guns in the system it's a massive mess we are looking at. The symptoms you see with Charlottesville or elsewhere can take way bigger shapes.
And these are not what you think - Some band of white supremacists driven by some kind of ideology etc. (God's vs Human created laws) who you will reason with tears in eyes, or relate to by just being white. These are the bunch of crooks driven by the incentive of a polarized country aiming for larger perennial political power and even wars to keep this charade going. And there would always be cronies like Facebook building economies for their mega private profits out of all this blood. You need to look out for these.
I write and speak on the matters of relevance for technology, economics, environment, politics and social sciences with an Indian philosophical pivot.