The end of the happy time.

In 1940 after the fall of France in WWII, German U-boats were very quickly redeployed from the northern and only coast of Germany, to the west coast of France. Suddenly, their range was increased so dramatically, they could strike out deep into the Atlantic. For the next six months, they sank nearly 300 merchant ships in the western approaches to Ireland with a combined tonnage of 1.5m. The crews called it “Die glückliche Zeit” or the happy time, because all they were doing was sinking unescorted single merchant ships with impunity until they simply ran out of ammunition and had to return to port for more.

It lasted until the Royal Navy got their act together and the escorted convoy system set up and running. From then on, the Kriegsmarine lost a lot of submarines and prominent U-boat aces like Prien, Schepke and probably the best submariner they had in Kretschmer.

As with all happy times, you only recognise them in retrospect. By the end of the war, 40,000 men had gone to sea in U-boats and 30,000 never returned home. Once you get outside special forces, the conventional thinking is that any unit taking more than 10% casualties is combat ineffective and should be retired from the line for rest. You’ve got to give them a plus for guts while bearing in mind nearly 50,000 men of the British merchant marine lost their lives in the war, and despite that casualty rate, there was never a shortage of civilian sailors to crew the merchies.

If you’re a regular follower of this blog, you’ll know I’ve had deep concerns about the direction the Internet has been going in for the last decade. A handful of individuals atop huge corporations like Google, Twitter and Facebook have established near total monopolies over massive swathes of it, and as usual in such situations, have been abusing that position with gusto and an arrogant disdain of anyone who objected to it. They’ve been taking the piss for years, and what’s more, nobody seemed to care, never mind giving them a bloody good slap for it.

You were totally free to express your opinion on anything in their nicey nice social media universe, but unless it happened to agree with their world view, their version of morality and most especially their politics, your social media life got hard, your opinion somehow disappeared, got shadow banned or in the end, you yourself just got banned. Everybody knew it was going on, but like child sexual abuse in a family, the whole grubby thing was either swept under the carpet or people looked the other way, not interested in getting involved in such an ugly problem.

It was so much easier to join everyone else doing the rah-rah cheerleading from the sidelines about how liberating and wonderful the whole vie électronique was.

But it wasn’t so wonderful for those individuals whose opinion was going down a black hole, nor those who were making a living producing original content only to find their product had overnight been suddenly demonetarised, or those groups of people protesting against a political trend they didn’t agree with, or Christians who found out they were the only religious group being pushed off the platform and even those people uploading a lecture by someone with whose opinions they didn’t necessarily concur, but watching that viewpoint being taken down and them being punished for sharing it in the first place.

Everything was going swimmingly for these masters of the Internet until a few weeks back. The story broke of an obscure firm that nobody had ever heard of helping themselves to the data of what was initially thought to be only 50m Facebook users. It turned out to be just the tip of the iceberg and to everyone’s surprise, it was actually common practice which Facebook had been turning a blind eye to for years. After successive revelations that everyone was doing it, even God forbid the prissy bitches of the Guardian with their app, Facebook eventually fessed up and said that any user should assume their data had been swiped.

I have some pity for those users and their sense of betrayal, but if you’re going to use social media, you have to get your head straight about what you’re actually doing with the personal details of your life. No matter what your privacy settings are, what you’re really doing is pinning daily notes onto a notice board placed in the public square. Complete strangers come along, copy the details and then sell them on to various interested parties. You aren’t in the permissions loop for any of that.

It’s all about selling your information, nothing more. Never mind all the PR spin about him by his paid press agents, what came out in the discovery phase between Zuckerberg and some ex-employees who were suing him, was his complete contempt for Facebook users, whom in messages he called “dumb fucks” for giving all their information about themselves to him for free.

The scandal grew so big that Zuckerberg was asked to appear before Congress for two days of testimony. Given the outrage, he really couldn’t resist, but notice at no point was he asked to testify under oath, therefore obviating any danger of being done for false testimony. A deal had obviously been done, hence his multitude of I don’t know answers to potentially sticky questions and some outright lies.

For instance, he was asked about the banning of the vbloggers Diamond & Silk and said words to the effect he wasn’t around when it happened, but according to the two ladies in question, they’d been having a vigorous email exchange with Facebook’s censors for nearly six months prior to them being banned. Given their prominence and their 2m plus followers, he must have known of the move to ban them completely from the platform.

The pointed questions were all about political censorship of Facebook users, and despite what was obviously some pre-testimony coaching, he didn’t come out of it looking very good; a bit like an emotionless cyborg weasel if anything. The obvious favours to the Obama campaign of 2012 were barely touched upon. It was the usual Washington snail’s pace, but you could see one or two of the congressmen sizing him up and thinking pulling the legs off this little insectoid one by one in front of the cameras would be easy, and a very vote winning thing to do.

The most interesting part of all his giving evidence to congress was an exchange with Representative Billy Long (R,Mo). From his face, Zuckerberg had obviously been briefed about this man by the row of Harvard Law School suits sitting behind him – comes across like an amiable Missouri hick with his feet up on the pot-bellied stove in the local store rambling on about something, but don’t underestimate him, or he’ll chew you up good.

Suddenly the giant Zuckerberg looked like a naughty little boy sitting on his booster cushion, and choosing his words very carefully while giving testimony to congress.

Long gave Zuckerberg a mild roasting, which I’d recommend you watch if only to study his interrogation technique, but his preamble to it was to say “If I was you, a little bit of advice, congress is good at doing two things; doing nothing and overreacting”. He went on to grill him about the banning of those two menaces to the community, Diamond and Silk, and the darn puzzling question of why it always seemed to be that conservative pages were the only ones getting censored by Facebook, rather than any left-wing ones.

It was a relatively easy pass for Zuckerberg, but you could see from the relaxed threat in Long’s face this was only round one, and unless the partisan censorship of conservative views ended, especially in the run up to the mid-terms, congress would be meeting with him again and coming down hard on them all. Long is by repute a very handy Poker player, and I’d believe it after watching that charming style of questioning. Harmless and deadly.

He finished up his questioning with a subtle but cautionary warning to Zuckerberg. “We’re getting ready to overreact”. The message is clear, even if delivered with some very over easy dollops of Southern charm. The happy time of getting away with whatever the hell they want to do is over for the social media Masters of the Universe.

©Pointman

Related articles by Pointman:

Facebook – hero or villain?

The evil empire of the internet must be broken up.

Internet censorship and whither shall we go?

Twitter is fundamentally corrupt.

A welcome to the dark side.

Click for a list of other articles.

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Comments
17 Responses to “The end of the happy time.”
  1. meltemian says:

    Who was it who said “if you aren’t paying for the product – you ARE the product”??

    Liked by 2 people

  2. philjourdan says:

    The contempt of the Masters for the common man is not surprising. They are after all, the masters, while the rest are mere chattel.

    But they could not succeed if the “chattel” did not willingly give up the information. And while some are expressing shock and surprise at the amount of data that is being sold, most are not. Today’s generation just does not care. And that is their downfall.

    Congress will get involved. But only because governments covet the information that these private companies have amassed. They are as guilty as the companies for harvesting and trading (among agencies) the same data.

    Long before Zuck expressed his contempt for the “chattel”, I saw the trap. I have never had a facebook, twitter or for that matter, even a real Google email account. Nor will I. I am not so naive to believe that a lot of data exists on me out on the Web. But it is fragmented and not as easy to filter down into a nutshell.

    But for me, that is even too much. Government is not the answer, but it will be the answer. And things will only get worse.

    Like

  3. Dolf (a.k.a. Anders Ericsson) says:

    Yeah!!!

    Like

  4. Keitho says:

    Because of the huge number of individuals that make up the customer base these Masters Of The Internet are operating at tax collecting levels. The business model is simple, sell information in whatever format your real customers want, and the nickles and dimes quickly become torrents.

    These torrents make people like Zuck think they are better than all of us and completely immortal. They think they can buy their way out of any problem and so are bullet-proof. If our legislators go along with this and take the cash we are all done for.

    Remember this when you are voting in November.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Margaret Smith says:

    I never joined the social media either and stopped ‘googling’ anything a long time ago. The left-wing nature is very self-regarding and means ‘I’m very rich therefore I am much better than you!’ Entertainers suffer from this disorder in a big way.

    I have never made a secret of my views or politics and am prepared to discuss/argue these beliefs with anyone.

    It’s satisfying when a CAGW believer runs away unable to answer my (informed) questions.
    For what it’s worth, I think UK and USA should back off concerning Syria. Turkey and Iran are the enemy.

    Feel free to disagree, please.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. PaleoSapiens says:

    There was a 2nd “Die glückliche Zeit” (happy/lucky time) off U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts from January, 1942 to around June, 1942. In historical 20/20 hindsight, United States’ leadership failed on a massively stupid scale in early 1942.

    The ‘official’ response, or more accurately – lack of response, was inexcusable. Merchant ships continued to operate with peace-time running-lights on. Coastal cities refused to institute black-out policies (reason: it might damage the Tourist Industry). The results were city & coastal lights made “U-Boot” (U-boats) silhouetting their target ships much easier. In other words, the back-light made sinking ships much easier. Among other blunders were convoy systems not instituted until mid-May, 1942.

    Had the U.S. immediately instituted proven measures against the threats the United Kingdom had faced and painfully learned how to thwart in 1940, a significant reduction in misery would have been possible. Sound familiar?

    An associated point of this article, is why moderate/conservative creators didn’t/don’t just switch to another web site. Diamond & Silk’s (illustrated in Pointman’s picture) decision to fight the discrimination they face, rather than starting over on another web site, is due to “not giving up on all the hard work put into getting fans” at fakebook. Again, sound familiar?

    It’s not necessarily history repeating itself, but human reactions to circumstances repeating. “Those who ignore history tend to get bit on the a$$ by reality.” – James Dunnigan – http://www.strategypage.com/

    Like

  7. John Bell says:

    What “information” about Facebook users was sold? Trivial info, like who their friends are, or what, credit card numbers, something important and critical?

    Like

  8. Blackswan says:

    Pointman,

    While the cyborg Zuck gave the impression that Farce-book was an altruistic organisation that gave users a valued ‘service’ for free, as you say, he’s been revealed as a liar and a hypocrite who expresses “his complete contempt for Facebook users, whom in messages he called “dumb fucks” for giving all their information about themselves to him for free.”

    What about users who give them nothing and find it’s been covertly taken anyway?

    The fact is, Facebook (with whom I don’t have an account) might be in the hot-seat but it’s Google that is actually operating in a highly predatory manner verging on harassment of their users as they hound them for increasing amounts of detailed information.

    I’ve had repeated requests for my phone number “to enhance security” on an email account. I ignored it and gave them nothing. Then up popped my (unlisted) phone number asking me to confirm that it was my number. I ignored that too.

    When adverts came up on my Inbox I deleted them. Then up popped a Google note asking me to explain why I had deleted the adverts. My impulse was to respond with “None of your damned business” but I ignored that too.

    It’s alarming in the extreme that my Google profile (that I didn’t know I had) has a map detailing all my road trips for the last several years … anywhere and everywhere that my laptop and I have been is faithfully recorded, town by town, despite me giving them zero personal information on myself.

    And this isn’t just random locations based on which cell towers my signal is bouncing off.

    Alarmingly, the actual business names and addresses of restaurants and coffee shops I’ve frequented are recorded on my Google file even though I’ve NEVER once posted any such information anywhere. Even the Medical Clinic I attend as well as the local hardware store and the supermarkets and deli I frequent are listed. Carrying my phone with me tells them all they need to know, without me making a call or telling them a thing.

    If that’s not an outrageous and aggressive invasion of my personal privacy, then I don’t know what is.

    Don’t just take my word for it … check this article out and find out what Google Daddy-in-the-clouds knows about you …..

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/mar/28/all-the-data-facebook-google-has-on-you-privacy

    On my Google file are “82 unconfirmed” locations and business names that I never heard of. Did I just grab a parking spot outside those premises one day?

    When my smart-(arse) phone got hooked up to Google my privacy went out the window. I had no clue.

    While I knew that Google ‘eavesdrops’ on our communications and scans for key words, nothing I say or do is a matter of national security or of particular interest to anyone but me.

    You were right Zuck … I must be a “dumb fuck”, along with every other user who hasn’t been paying attention!

    Now I do have a clue so the next step is to have Google disconnected and my phone once again becomes just a telephone and not a micro computer carried in my pocket.

    Screw you Google!

    You’re so right Pointy … when more people realise what this Global Conglomerate actually gets up to, “The End of the Happy Time” will have arrived.

    Like

  9. Could have been a whole lot worse. Dodged a bullet. Perhaps you could write a piece on what a horrible censoring machine Net Neutrality was planned to be. Most people have no idea what it was designed to achieve, and are under the illusion that it was a good thing.

    Like

  10. rapscallion says:

    “Once you get outside special forces, the conventional thinking is that any unit taking more than 10% casualties is combat ineffective and should be retired from the line for rest. You’ve got to give them a plus for guts while bearing in mind nearly 50,000 men of the British merchant marine lost their lives in the war, and despite that casualty rate, there was never a shortage of civilian sailors to crew the merchies.

    The only other branches of the Armed Forces to suffer such losses were RAF Bomber Command crews and the British Submarine Service, of which, I am proud to say I spent 21 years as a member. It isn’t a question of guts or courage Pointman, it’s more a case of a different mental set up. I was not scared on my first dive, hell I wasn’t even scared when the hull started creaking and internal compartment bulkheads started to bend as we went quite deep, (no, not the major watertight bulkheads). It never bothered me not seeing the sun, and to tell you the truth I was happier dived than on the roof (surface). I’ve met American, Russian, French, Danish and German submariners, and they’re all exactly the same – they’re just doing what the believe is their duty. They’re laid back to the point of being horizontal, they’re party animals, but they are supremely professional.

    And no – I’ve never used Farcebook, twatter, or instagram, and Zuckerberg will get what’s coming to him.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Another Ian says:

    Pointman

    FYI – somewhat O/T

    “I’ll Believe The FBI Is Clean When Hillary Is Indicted For This”

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2018/04/17/ill-believe-the-fbi-is-clean-when-hillary-is-indicted-for-this/

    Like

  12. gallopingcamel says:

    My guess is that Zuckerberg will keep on blocking anyone who is not a Leftist but he will try to make it less obvious.

    All we got was a couple of “Deer in the Headlights” moments.

    Like

  13. Truthseeker says:

    Voat.co is down. Does anyone know why?

    Like

  14. Pointman says:

    Report: Facebook Spent More on Swamp Lobbyists in 1Q than Ever Before

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2018/04/24/report-facebook-spent-swamp-lobbyists-1q-ever/

    The heat is on …

    Pointman

    Like

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