The Social Media Carousel

Following the news is much like watching an old-fashioned style carousel. While you may focus on a particular rider or object, there are plenty of distractions along the course of the ride. Decades ago our news was filled with somewhat credible and journalistic issues. Game and cooking shows could take our mind off of severe problems while soap operas would introduce a moment of drama to be shared with those that shared similar television interests. Naturally, there was Donahue or the Morton Downey Jr. show, which were the first talk show formats that included audience participation. Seeking tabloid journalism was as easy as standing in the checkout lane at any grocery store USA. That form of journalism was shunned but still a part of the gossip world. Overall the decorum of gossip entertainment and social etiquette is contrasting different than today’s standards – or lack thereof.

With the introduction of cable, satellite and streaming media content the world of news has become more of an entertainment value. Newspapers that once provided journalistic standards are barely surviving and slowly being replaced with opinion-based talk shows. Decades ago popularity of an individual could be solely based upon if you encountered a busy signal trying to reach a friend or by a frenzy of a pop culture performer appearance on your favorite television program. The internet and streaming media has removed the anticipation effect and replaced it with a 24-hour social media tracking device with special mobile alerts to keep individuals informed. If The Beatles would have been as popular today as they were fifty years ago, then JFK Airport would be empty except for the hordes of paparazzi trying to get an exclusive photo to post it on the internet.

Americans have desperately been trying to “cut the cord” to expensive cable or satellite television subscription services. Folks have resorted towards streaming media content or social media for what they consider as credible information with a feeling of being heard or connected. The United States was founded on the pursuit and discovery of freedoms. One of those foundations is the free enterprise system. However, that free enterprise or accessibility indeed isn’t free. What used to be free television with rabbit ears and a bit of tin foil has become an al la carte cash cow for social media content providers, television networks, and internet providers. If you want to skip past the commercials, be prepared to pay a premium fee. But finding credible news or events that impact community or awareness is now buried behind the Kardashians, Twitter rants or whatever was the buzz feed from TMZ.

Americans cannot cut the cord or change the level of dignity because we desire to keep up a war on something. It is embedded in our DNA and fabric as a nation to be fighters. We find it difficult to determine what we are fighting for and how to follow a particular platform. This is why politics is broken, social movements have division, and society desires to blend only if they think like me. We love to gossip and read about it. Otherwise, the National Enquirer would have been bankrupt decades ago. The risk of bankruptcy is local newspapers, libraries and the arts in general. Apple and Samsung will continue to profit because something new will be released to capture our eye. Somewhat like the carousel but without it ever stopping. We are all riders attempting to influence others to join us as long as maintain Facebook, Twitter, social media, dating sites, and receive our news from Apple or Samsung and its subscribers. President Trump has been smart (and I use that term loosely) enough to watch us all fall into the trap of “what will he say or Tweet next”?

Technology hasn’t made us any smarter or better multitaskers. In fact, I would argue that social media, television, mobile devices, computing, and other factors have developed us as codependent attention deficit thinkers seeking the quickest remedy with not credible returns. This is not to suggest to turn back the clock. However, it is a warning that we should tone down our rhetoric and use a bit more decorum, comprehension, and listening skills. Whoever is on television today will undoubtedly be on tv the rest of the week because the internet and subscription services never die.

Perhaps that irrational gossip-laden program can be replaced with random acts of kindness such as providing your dog or cat more attention (I doubt they watch television or play on the internet). Calling a friend or family member on the telephone (no texting allowed) and listening to them. Reconnecting with family and loved ones that typically hear from you on holidays. Sitting down with your favorite book or newspaper and that homemade cup of coffee that didn’t cost you $5 with your name scribbled on the side of the cup. Enjoying a moment of sanity in your world may bring you to the reality that you are no longer are on the carousel. Enjoy it while you can.

If the Sex Offender Registry Ended Tomorow

What if the U.S. Supreme Court miraculously ruled that sex offender registries were unconstitutional? First, the major news networks would be in meltdown mode. I am confident that cataclysm based voice commentary would involve Ron Book, John Walsh, and a cameo appearance by Nancy Grace would be in order. Police, politicians, school boards, and outraged registry supporters would behave like a Kanye West moment during Hurricane Katrina.

A recent web traffic study of the North Carolina Sex Offender Registry shows most searches of the website disclose a higher portion of commercial viewing than individual users. That indicates the registry overall is a business instead of a service to the community. Virtually citizens outraged at the registry termination are service-based organizations that provide traffic content. Which brings me to my first examination. Private registries such as Homefacts or other similar websites would scurry to improve its databases to unofficially track former registrants creating a new private fee-based registry. Criminal background service providers such as Truthfinder.com and others would begin building apps to connect with social networking quickly identify not only sex offenders but other felonious acts to lump in as a part of its services. It is not registries that are the problem, but private services are acting as registries with misinformation or expired data. The threat of private registries would be equivalent to a credit reporting agency relying on data ten years or older. Most disturbing is when these same service providers insist individuals pay to update what the company should keep current. And we wonder why we have so many problematic scams of misinformation in America? Because this data is not protected by the Fair Credit Act, many unsuspected “consumers” would be accidentally uploaded by name mixups or other collected information creating a false report of individuals. It is the hype of individuals such as Book, Walsh, and perhaps Grace that instigate a fear that danger always lurks around the corner. As long as lawmakers listen to these “unqualified experts” there will always be a justifiable need for misinformation and panic.

Congress and states would have more money to spend because it would no longer have a registry requirement. However, count on your elected leadership finding ways to spend newly discovered funds to make matters worse. I anticipate a sudden reaction in ancillary spending towards keeping specific laws intact such as residency restrictions, being on school or daycare property and discovering clever ways of identifying offenders without a registry. I do expect legislation to be introduced for passport and driver license expansion to include identifiers for all former registered offenders. Again, never assume with panic organizations where one victory suddenly creates twenty additional problems. The courts will eventually be clogged with too many lawsuits to count. But, this is the giant registry at work with more legs than a centipede.

As for the judicial system, it could be the straw that breaks the camels back. Prosecutors and judges would begin implementing lengthy prison sentences as a replacement to plea deals for lesser sentencing. Judges are incredibly aware how to use the registry as a weapon. Otherwise without the registry prisons would be at peak population counts. Without the registry do count on higher civil commitment rates because all those so-called political appointed psychology boards have to “protect their jobs.”  These commitment boards will suddenly panic as to what to do with offenders if they continue to believe that sexual offenses cannot be rehabilitated – naturally, they are appointed to think that way. As long as prosecutors and judges remain elected officials, there will invariably be a promotion of fear-based rhetoric and the need to escalate that fear even if civil liberties are jeopardized. Proof that the registry was never information based but planned punishment.

Lastly, kiosks would suddenly emerge requiring instant background checks to enter buildings, companies, organizations, or public emergency disaster shelters as a miniature quasi-registry with complementary sticky name-tags to wear that you passed its self-imposed quality restrictions. Implementation of kiosks would demonstrate consternation and expansion of criminal based information perhaps purchased from the same unofficial registry websites with outdated data. Naturally, to correct the issue individuals would be in the crossfire of misinformation being forced to pay to correct information that shouldn’t have been public in the first place? Do count on companies and organizations to be sued for wrongful information based on false or inaccurate information being shared. As always, there will be a nice disclaimer to say “this organization is not responsible for incorrect information” and to call another organization to straighten out the fiasco. If kiosks aren’t bad enough, then it may be safe to assume facial recognition is the next wave of information sharing. But the best bizarre standard may be similar to the airport Global Entry standard. Those with a background check based card similar to the REAL ID act would gain quicker access than those that don’t. It wouldn’t surprise me if this implements sooner because it is already being discussed with particular lawmakers?

Does all this imply that the registry needs to remain? Certainly not. It does suggest a peek into the proverbial future that California and the rest of America created. The registry beast will ultimately find its reach grasping innocent victims, family, friends, and advocates combined with misinformation no different than the Hillary Clinton Pizzagate scandal. Politicians with greased palms accepting Book or Walsh dollars with falsity with “consulting” and exclusive paperback deals may be the real injury as to why homeless, jobless, prison rates, major crimes, and other economic problems have risen – and continue to increase. However, if humanity will take a leap of faith to help assimilate offenders back into society rather than a registry requirement, they may quickly discover that homeless, jobless, prison rate, major crimes, and other economic worries become lessened with better opportunities and outcomes.

Patty Wetterling once voiced her concern about the registry. But her voice was dismissed as consumed by the giant enterprise of the registry to squelch any opposition and voice of reason. I have calculated my investigation and analysis of perhaps what the world will be like if the registry goes away. In fact, I find it may be more dangerous because politicians and opponents enjoy selling fear and anxiety. However, I tend to reflect more of the powerful words borrowed from Colin Powell saying, “If you break it, you fix it!

The registry is broke and breaking the bank of economic stability and primary rationale with Ameican culture. It had proven to be no more effective today than when it was implemented. It is convoluted, harmful to families, and swallowing up innocent bystanders under the guise of behaviors sometimes not closely associated with rape or violent offenses. The only beneficiary to the registry is companies and individuals that use the registry for its benefit. Individuals that visit the registry, if they can find the correct one, have mentioned feeling less educated or informed because of the lump sum mindset. It is a mammoth service that provides no service to any community and offers no real protection. Typically it is the person not on the registry that one should be concerned with. That is not a hint or suggestion that the registry works. That would equivalent to when an impaired driver gets behind the wheel, gets arrested, have his/her license revoked until court appearance, posts bond, only to drive back home still under the influence and continue driving back and forth to work on a suspended license. I see that the DMV registry is sarcastically impressive. The bottom line is that no registry is useful. What is effective? Law, evidence and a plan to deal with repeat offenders.

Lastly, adding specific laws to the registry requirement further creates a constructive culture of recidivism. What was once black and white to understanding registry requirements are replaced with black and gray content with ambiguous meaning. That is what lawmakers have created, and the registry continues to administer as a broken database of tiered information. This colossal effort of spending and identification in hopes to reduce specific behavior has not matured but expanded into an enterprise business. The registry provides sole benefit to a select few overstated commentary advocates, fear-based advertisers, careless data content providers, and a few attorneys career obsessed with tales of removing people from the registry only to have those reinstated because of retroactive legislation. Even if the registry ended tomorrow, the struggle to regain identity would be an uphill climb because of hostility and resistance towards a failed experiment. Despite police officers being relieved of sex offense monitoring allowing more officers to patrol streets abandon logic and consideration. It’s the opponents that would be out of business and have the ambition to create further harm by selling a new potion claiming it will keep a community safe. Perhaps the best safety and slaying the giant is to meet my neighbors no longer hiding because of registry requirements actively engaged and involved in my neighborhood. We don’t need an app or registry for that – and it will save me and my community a lot of money!

In the meantime, the sex offender registry ending anytime soon doesnt appear to have an optomistic outlook.

Fake or Credible Internet?

Executives from Facebook, Twitter, and Google appeared today before Congress to discuss issues of possible Russian election interference. What I learned from that discussion was that internet providers are not as transparent as they claim to be. It has been a long-standing unwritten policy that the internet will not be controlled by anyone or any company. What we perceptively learned today was that the big internet giants have an interest in revenues and public image. Naturally, they do not wish to be labeled as “controllers of free speech.” But what about television, mail adverts or newspaper media flyers. They are regulated by many rules and regulations, and the deliverables of that particular irregularity or false product could be held liable for distribution not to mention investigators will be serving search warrants and filling up evidence boxes for later court dates. Such false advertising or false production is similar to snake oil pitches. Eventually, the salesman and the product can be banned and criminally charged if it causes harm.

The internet can be a dangerous place. It does have a unique mystique about it, and the data it collects and shares can be compared to a diamond mine depending on how one desires to implement a plan. But the internet today is not the porn hub central that once was deemed the 1990’s deviant playground. Today, the internet has become a part of our connected world with ala carte news and home appliance device connectivity. This is a differing contrast to European and foreign markets that protect user information. The internet has become dangerous because we have created conditions for it to be hazardous. Without fundamental enforceable law and boundaries, we have allowed the internet to be policed by not companies and people but instead analytics and software. This is not to imply a conspiracy theory of artificial intelligence taking over the world. Alternatively, the implication is that software is not human enough to determine what is real versus what is not. But to take that argument a bit further, many Americans have difficulty in distinguishing between fake or credible.

Based on that little snippet of discovery it will be hard-pressed for any prosecutor to effectively rule on the Russian election hacking issue. Not because of evidence, but because of the complexities of election laws differing across state lines and internet data servers that typically reside outside the United States as a form of redundancy and backup qualities. Let’s not mix up collusion with election tampering. Collusion is a secretive path to data where tampering is a physical adulteration of data. But I think it is equally important to ask tech giants to disclose to government or a branch of oversight how it maintains its secretive or propriety paths. For example, today I performed a random search of Kevin Spacey and Anthony Rapp separately. What I quickly discovered was that Spacey had all the press information while Rapp had similar linkage. There was not one negative search story about Rapp to include alternative viewpoints or discussions. Why? Is it that analytics immediately point to what is deemed credible or is it what tech giants want us to read?

Overall, it is very complicated, and any legal ramifications about internet tampering will ultimately set a new precedent of how we or others police credible data. Another question to ask ourselves “does metadata exclude opposite viewpoints on purpose because it deems them as false?” This would be the argument I would introduce because not one blog or publication raised issues with Rapp. I am not attempting to slam Rapp. I am only using this as a prime example of how information seems adulterated and selectively scrubbed while searching for it.

The bottom line is that tech giants have an agenda and we the people are its product. Naturally, there won’t be much transparency from tech giants because that would remove a large slice of income and data collection from its grasp.  Google, Facebook, and Twitter currently monopolize our data where we do not own ourselves or our privacy any longer. Until someone breaks up the monopoly or peels back the onion of these companies, we will continue to witness distortion and snake oil pitches that seem all too real. Perhaps the internet and another nation adulterated our recent election by creating emotional harm. At what point will it become perilous where many people die or are harmed because the internet has succeeded credible standards seemingly no longer used because it’s not technical or high speed sufficient?

Do Not Call Registry Ineffective

Have you ever received a telephone call from an unknown number? Of course, this is typical, and in most cases, we don’t answer the call. But what if you receive a telephone call from perhaps a legitimate number and person only to discover that the caller ID information is inaccurate. This type of inaccuracy of information is provided by what is termed as “spoofing.” When I think of the recent fake news reporting, I also think of letters in the mail pretending to be legitimate businesses and telephone spoofing. It is so out of control that this is perhaps one key reason that texting has outpaced the traditional phone call.

Spoofing has been going on for over a decade, and it seems far from the problem going away. What makes spoofing a problem is that such technology makes the national Do Not Call Registry ineffective. If you receive a telephone call from a spoofing number but turns out to be a telemarketer from a call center in India then reporting that information only pings the number used; not the number actually being called from.

Who is to blame? The primary responsibility is software distributors that sell programs with the intention to defraud legitimacy. However, software publishers will always use the “for entertainment use only” caption to remove it from liabilities. This is nonsense, and federal or national law enforcement agencies should be ashamed to allow this to continue. The next blame assessment is the telephony providers themselves. These are the same companies that charge a fee to consumers for caller ID services, blocking services, and anonymous rejection plans. Even if you pay for the premium telephone feature, you are not getting what you paid for because spoofing overrides all those features. Phone providers seem only interested in profitability versus public safety or credibility. Businesses are just as much to blame because they lay claim that telephone information won’t be used for telemarketing purposes. Yeah, right.

Lastly, Congress is to blame. They are the very body of government that introduced the Do Not Call Registry but placed a caveat in the law that won’t allow political calls to be blocked. Therefore just before and after an election, the telemarketing calls flow because political groups do not discard the telephone listings correctly. Just think about the Democratic National Convention hacked records. How many phone numbers do you say were released back into the calling pattern to hinder further the effectiveness of the Do Not Call Registry? I am willing to bet a significant amount.

Data security and telephony information is in my opinion at a critical stage. Our smartphones and telephone services are an important infrastructure and a source of our daily requirements. Phone providers must do more to help not only businesses but consumers of the credibility of the services we buy. Federal agencies must do more to combat fraudulent spoofing and impersonation. Congress should do its part by removing its clause from existing law to help protect its constituents.

My Amazon Echo is my Alibi?

I could not resist mentioning the recent case involving the Amazon device known as “Echo.” I admit that I have one of these devices. When I heard that an Echo device was being subpoenaed to court because it may have listening data I knew that this story would grow into all sorts of hype. While I understand that police in this particular incident want to comb over every inch of potential evidence, I think we may be opening looking into a Pandora’s Box that may have ramifications.

It was last year a murder case in California had Apple and its iPhone applications at the center of controversy. There was much legal wrangling over consumer data, texts, and other meta information. But what was the most interesting part that differs versus the case of Amazon is that the government wanted to hack into the iPhone. There are currently features such as Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant and countless other devices that seek voice recognition to wake the device. I fear that our home may inadvertently become a crime scene in waiting if we do not stop the overreach of particular law practices and standards.

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I can remember a time where law enforcement tools have evolved from wanted posters to police radio, patrol cars and social networks, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Community policing today has also expanded through social networking to locate missing children, alert neighbors of suspicious activity, and even inform the public about crimes committed in their neighborhoods. But it seems that police and other law enforcement organizations are migrating its way into our kitchens, bedrooms, and living rooms. I have nothing to hide. However, I do revere in a bit of personal privacy. The art of secrecy or personal privacy has slowly succumbed its deathbed. Our computer, smartphone, Echo device, automated garage door opener, car and almost anything with a way of connectivity can tell on us. Most disturbing is if there is a time management flaw in the code because that could be the powerful indictment within the law they look for. What can you do to protect yourself from your own devices?

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At one time I was worried about hackers with accessibility to my home security camera, laptop, iPhone and other electronic devices. That later shifted towards foreign governments hacking into my network to do harm to our nation. Within months that seems to have slipped into me being a bit concerned that my own devices are watching me because the police have a suspicion. Folks, all this can be done without much of a warrant. In no way am I eluding that Edward Snowden was correct in his assessment of big brother? But what he shared has had a greater significance on a plausible concern that we no longer have rights to reasonable privacy. If this was a traffic camera where I am behind the wheel near a crime scene, then I can accept that. Hopefully, my alibi would be a credible witness either that saw me or was with me. But I find it difficult for me to grasp that my future alibi may be my Amazon Echo device. That alone is a scary scenario with multitudes of problems written all over it.

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I am an advocate of free will. I do my best to protect animals by working in shelters. I hopefully write witty blogs about the concerns that I see most of you talk about but find little room to do anything about. I embrace technology, pay my taxes, go to school, work hard and have wonderful friends. One thing I will say is that I own my electronic devices. They shouldn’t be considered mature enough to exhibit free will. This means that they are not of legal age, at least of maturity to do human-like things on its own. Therefore I do not consent my electronic devices to exhibit free will or testify on my behalf. That should be where we are today with certain meta or data issues. It is too infantile and too scattered to properly become a reliable alibi for anyone or anything. I don’t want to hinder police from an effective investigation. But we must place a fair and reasonable balance between people and the reach of the law. We may live in America. But with actions like the Amazon Echo warrant, it is beginning to look more like the Soviet Union each and every passing moment. What kind of liberty is that?

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