Nextdoor, the Most Fascist Social Media Site by Design

Many of us use social media on a daily basis in the same spirit that we use any other form of communication. True, the lack of physical proximity to another person does cause people to sometimes be nastier than they would in a physical meeting, but overall we respect everyone’s right to free speech. If a user has a problem with another user they can ignore them, block them, etc. just like in real life.

Some people felt that that wasn’t enough and want to control free speech itself. So on specifically on some social media site, like Nextdoor, people can report any content they want, anonymously, and usually get it removed. They can do it under the totally undefined guidelines of “don’t use Nextdoor as a soapbox”, or “be helpful not hurtful” or any other number of things. All of this is filtered through a neighborhood admin that makes the final decision, and may or may not be a true American when it comes to free speech. Essentially, this means that any content can be removed for any reason. The person reporting the largely non-offensive content, can be doing so simply because they are an investor in one of the companies that’s being talked about and it’s effecting their bottom line, for example. People are not required to list their investments after all, before pretending to be offended by a post that attacks Verizon, for example. I have personally seen Verizon investors try to have posts removed that are related to public broadband efforts, even though the posts are not offensive. They can claim something like, “over-posting” and since it effects their bottom line, you can be sure they’ll use every fascist means at their disposal to get it removed. After all, they have no allegiance to their countries or communities, just to their investments. Nextdoor’s policies makes it especially easy for them to get away with this behavior. By perverting their community policies, fascists in your community can control speech on this platform to protect their Corporate Dictatorships.

It is also worth mentioning that Nextdoor allows “sponsored content” (aka paid ads) from some of the most immoral companies to be run on the site, and sent to you in messages, but local businesses aren’t supposed to use the site to advertise for free. In short, the people in you community, working hard everyday, that have services you might actually need, are not allowed to use their community website to advertise in their own neighborhood for free, but if ultra-fascist big telecoms want to, hey no problem. Nextdoor is simply the most fascist social media site out there, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way. If the community standards were adjusted to reflect other social media sites, and honor our constitution, it could be truly valuable.

Trump Tax Cuts = South Park Underpants Gnomes Profit Plan

So listening to the arguments for and against the Trump Tax plan it seems like they basically have the same plan as the Underpants Gnomes in South Park.

Phase 1: Collect Underpants

Phase 2: ?

Phae 3: Profit

Really, when you look at it they’re basically saying the same thing. They’re saying:

Phase 1: Give even bigger tax cuts to the wealthy

Phase 2: ?

Phase 3: Profit

Let’s look at one specific example of why this won’t work. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, said that if these tax cuts come through he will bring $150 Billion back to the US. What he isn’t saying is that they’ve already started automating jobs at Foxconn. So if they build a plant here it will be almost entirely automated. That means that virtually no jobs will be created for human workers and the only people that will benefit are the investors. Whatever, I’ve told you all a long tome ago to start using Linux anyway LOL :). Seriously though, Linux is awesome and pretty much guilt free. I’m always happy to help someone learn more about Linux.

Anti-Net Neutrality Is Corporate Welfare

Net-Neutrality is in the news yet again as we are on the cusp of losing more of our first amendment rights again to big, unethical, telecom companies. Instead of making all of the arguments for net-neutrality that other individuals, organizations, and net-neutral companies like Google have already done a great job of I want to make a very specific one. I want to talk about how it’s corporate welfare.

You see, when a town install public broadband or has a company like Google available these companies tend to actually do their installs correctly. A town like Bellingham, WA would cost about $10 million dollars to wire up, if it was done all at once, of course publicly owned networks tend to pay for themselves including for their own expansion and maintenance, so you usually install some at a low cost, and then incrementally allow it to expand, but that is a topic for another article.

What is relevant is that if you look at a town like Bellingham you will pretty quickly realize that most residents only have real access to 1 telecom company and that almost all of the providers here are anti-net neutral. CenturyLink put an almost laughable amount of fiber in and is overselling their capacity and service choices here, just like they did in King  County.

http://www.king5.com/money/consumer/centurylink-hit-with-class-action-lawsuit-over-billing-practices/451646322

Estimates put it at about only $500,000 so about 1/20th of the fiber necessary to really make Bellingham competitive in the modern world and their pricing is way higher than Google. Of course getting real figures out of CenturyLink is next to impossible. This spotty service isn’t even available everywhere and is anti-net neutral. Comcast is even worse with their copper infrastructure. Our government has used these poor providers as an excuse not to give us better choices, and this has resulted in virtual monopolies all over our town. This is true of many place in the US. Some towns simply have their service cut off if they don’t purchase enough connections from one of these giants. See these town in 13 states that had 1,300 connections abruptly shut off by Verizon proving that totally private service is not reliable. https://muninetworks.org/tags-57

A company like Google though, and most publicly owned networks, expand until the town has adequate coverage for everyone, include an access for all component, and therefore provide adequate opportunities for everyone. Smaller private providers often just get absorbed by Comcast or one of the bigger providers, who often make the absorbed connections and quality standards surrounding them worse. This gives you the illusion of choice but really just hides monopolies in the background.

So how is this corporate welfare? With net-neutrality a company has the incentive to build a better network to keep data prioritization equal. This is not expensive for them to do and lowers the cost per MBit for consumers. Even with that, most Americans pay 10 times the amount paid in other developed countries for their services and get much worse service in return. Without net-neutrality a company can throttle connections or even steal bandwidth from other parts of the network to keep premium customers data flowing at a fast rate, making the slower connections even worse. They can also take ransoms from companies to prioritize their traffic above others. Think of how this will effect the news! It also means that they are not regulated to build better networks and that the connections for most individuals will get worse while only an elite few see better connections. We are allowing them to do a terrible job and make more money than ever off of their poor services by not regulating them. That’s how it’s corporate welfare. We’re essentially giving them more money by not guaranteeing their services will even be good or usable for most.

It should be noted that most of our regulation was almost toothless before this anyway. If anything we needed more regulation to protect the interest of the average American, not less.

Also, the FCC under the Trump administration is pushing many other backward telecom standards listed here.

https://techcrunch.com/2017/10/26/fcc-wont-vote-on-net-neutrality-in-november/

Most of them sound good until you look into them. For example, the “Common-sense measures” to ease transition from copper to fiber, part of what they’re voting on is also corporate welfare. See Fiber is a great idea, especially publicly owned fiber, in fact it should be the default standard for telecom cabling in the US today, but this administration is just going to give tax money to big telecoms to upgrade their privately owned infrastructure. So 18 Billion dollar CenturyLink will not have to spend their own money maintaining and upgrading their own infrastructure. You’ll do it for them, even if you’re note one of their customers. They will be given your tax dollars instead. It’s a handout.

Comcast’s New Bullshit Wireless Service (XFINITY Mobile)

So Comcast rolled out a plan similar to Google’s Project FI recently. I was, like most thinking Americans, skeptical. I knew it had to come with a horrible catch attached to it, like possibly requiring my mother to undergo experimental medical testing to get the deal. Comcast is one of the most hated companies in American history after all and their partner Verizon isn’t far behind. Actually, Comcast is one of the most hated companies in all of human history.

Google, a Net_Neutral company, partnered with slightly more reasonable wireless carriers T-Mobile and US Cellular but their pricing is about the same. Still, their pro Net-Neutral stance shows that they are at least a progressively run company for the time being.

Comcast partnered with super Anti-Net Neutrality carrier Verizon. We all know these guys for charging us at least 10x what people pay in other developed countries per for our services and backing them up with half-assed technology, like copper instead of fiber-optic based wiring, now they’re teaming up to pretend they’re doing you a favor again while taking advantage of you. Here’s how.

You have to have an XFinity account in the first place to even get XFinity Mobile. They mislead you with their advertising and say you can get unlimited calling for $45/month, but that’s only if you have one of their premier TV packages which start at $150 a month. If not, because you realized that traditional TV is going the way of the dinosaur and stupid, you will pay $65/month. So a family of 4 without a premier TV plan will pay almost $100 a month more for an unlimited plan than they will even with Verizon directly, who overcharges them too. The flyer I received also indicated that this may be a limited time offer that only extends through July as part of their “amazing” launch. In short, they’re screwing you again.

Yes, there is a pay per Gig option of $12 per gig, but this pricing is on par with many other providers that won’t hypothetically eat your firstborn if you sign a contract with them. The wireless hotspot access they advertise is largely stupid and pointless. Most businesses will allow you to use their Wi-Fi if you’re in range, staying with them, etc.

Comcast is also fervently against Net-Neutrality. This is probably because the truth is that Net-Neutrality is good for the end user. It effectively requires companies to actually improve their infrastructure without charging their customers more as their demands increase. It also keeps questionable companies like Comcast and CenturyLink from doing things like censoring the news, etc. using network prioritization or stealing bandwidth from their poorest users. All of that will be fair game if we lose Net-Neutrality by the way.

In the end it’s a bandaid to the problems we face with telecom today. We need public broadband that is Net-Neutral. Sure, private local providers can help provide access to this network, but without it we’ll just keep playing these games and keep being taken advantage of. How about this. How about instead of shitty Comcast hotspots we establish a network of public broadband Wi-Fi hooked up to public fiber that people can use to get their work done anywhere at no cost and get America out of the telecom dark ages.

So in short, one of the most immoral things you can do during this dark time is voluntarily give Comcast, CenturyLink, Verizon, and any of the other telecom companies supporting Trump’s Anti Net-Neutrality policies your money. It doesn’t even make financial sense to anyway.

One more note from the standpoint of the government. Whenever a new service comes up government officials who either don’t get it, or claim not to get it because they’re invested in these big telecom companies, use these services as justification that services are becoming available to more and more people at better rates but that simply isn’t true. The competition we’ve seen in the private market gives us all about the same services for about the same prices with limited equipment options. The companies carve out territories and stop competing almost immediately, creating an illusion of competition while establishing virtual monopolies. It is not in their interest to really make improvements. The only times that they do are when public options are established that actually bring pricing down, and give citizens a better option.

Before doing the right things, the big providers will usually start out by trying to force communities not to provide a public option in the first place, turn them off if one has been installed, or even use red scare tactics and call it socialism. Basically, they will try everything not to let you have better service, from an ethical provider, at a better price, but if your community sticks to its guns it will change their behavior for the better too.

Fight Fascism, Use Linux

Here is the list of Tech CEOs who were so spineless that they met with President Trump.

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/14/technology/trump-tech-summit.html?_r=0

You might say, “how can anyone representing some of the most forward thinking companies on Earth meet with Donald Trump?” Well, that’s it. With the exception of Tesla, they are not forward thinking companies. They’ve been selling you the same garbage, slowing down the release of new products, repackaging Open Source tools with slight modifications and charging your for them, and throttling your access to the best of their ability for years. Oh yeah, they charge you a lot for it too.

However, there is good news. You don’t need to run Windows or Apple anymore. The Free Open Source Operating System Linux has been amazing for years now and most distros are user-friendly too. Linux is also very efficient and scalable, so in general you can keep your systems viable and running for 2 or 3 times longer than with Windoze or CrApple systems which is good for the environment. Plus once you make the switch to Linux you never have to deal with any of the bullshit surrounding proprietary computing again, except when you deal with people who haven’t made the switch, even then there are usually simple workarounds. LibreOffice, for example, can read from and save to just about any other Office Suite format. You can use Amazon Video in Chrome, which runs on many Linux distros, and therefore use Google Service like Docs and Drive with Linux. The list goes on, but in general, since there is a better free alternative out there than the companies that met with Donald Trump provide, then why reward them by buying their products? Open Source is already everywhere anyway.

The distro I recommend is Ubuntu Linux:

https://www.ubuntu.com/

Here is a link to the only ethically made computer on the planet. The Raspberry Pi. It runs Linux and is only $35. It uses a more efficient ARM processor (like your smartphones does), than the Intel stuff you’re used to. It’s made in the UK by workers that actually have rights. Imagine that. So when Apple or Samsung tells you they can’t afford to make the iPhone, the Galaxy, or any of their other overstated products here, you can tell them you know they’re full of shit.

https://www.raspberrypi.org/