The Panama Papers/Mossack Fonseca

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Mon, Apr 4, 2016 - 4:54pm

For those looking to get up to speed quickly on the breaking Panama Papers scandal, here are two worthy articles from The Atlantic:

The Names in the Panama Papers

Documents leaked Sunday from a Panama-based firm purport to show corruption and questionable business practices of world leaders, politicians, and others.

Documents leaked Sunday from a Panama-based firm, which sells offshore shell companies, purport to show corruption and questionable business practices of the world’s politicians, billionaires, entertainers, athletes, drug barons, and others.

At the heart of the nearly four decades of records from Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm, are the names of people in more than 200 countries and territories. The 11.5 million records reveal the offshore holdings of 12 current and former leaders—among them the Saudi king, the pro-Western president of Ukraine, and the leaders of Iceland and Pakistan.

The papers appear to show Mossack Fonseca helped its clients launder money, dodge sanctions, and avoid paying taxes. Offshore services are not always illegal, but the documents released Sunday appear to reveal a clandestine web of shell companies, their real owners concealed under layers of secrecy, and connections to firms in different tax havens. The individual or group behind the leak is unknown, but the documents were published by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Süddeutsche Zeitung, the German newspaper, and several news organizations around the world, including the BBC, after a yearlong investigation.

(read the full article here)

and here:

What Is Mossack Fonseca, the Law Firm in the Panama Papers?

A global leader, the company has become famous for its expertise in creating shell companies—and infamous for its associations.

Jürgen Mossack was already a citizen of the world when he first hung his shingle in Panama City in 1977. Born in Germany and raised and educated in Panama, the twenty-something had gone to London to work as a lawyer in 1975, but he returned two years later and began practicing. Since then, the firm he founded has become a global behemoth—hundreds of employees spread around the world, with special expertise in creating tax shelters for wealthy global elites. The firm is also, according to documents in the “Panama Papers,” deeply involved with all manner of unsavory and possibly illegal practices across continents.

The enormous document leak, reported by Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, and others worldwide, offers a new view of Mossack Fonseca, the firm that Jürgen Mossack established. The leak consists of a stunning 2.6 terabytes of data, dating back to 1977. The documents purport to show Mossack Fonseca’s dealings with world leaders, company officers’ internal discussions about court cases, and communication about sheltering money obtained through crimes.

The Panama Papers put a much greater focus than ever before on a firm whose stock in trade is maintaining opacity for its clients—a strategy it has pursued for itself. Even within the world of attorneys who create shell corporations, Mossack Fonseca has been described, byThe Economist in 2012, as “tight-lipped.” But a silhouette of the firm’s history can be drawn from reports and court cases over the years.

Mossack himself reportedly comes from a colorful family. His father, Erhard, moved the family to Latin America after World War II. The ICIJ reports that Erhard Mossack served in the Waffen-SS during the war. According to the ICIJ, U.S. intelligence files show he offered to spy for the U.S. government, possibly simply to shield himself. He later offered to spy for the CIA, from Panama, on Communists in Cuba. Süddeutsche Zeitung reports that Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service declined to hand over documents relating to Erhard Mossack due to possible security risks.

Jürgen Mossack’s practice only became Mossack Fonseca in 1986, when it merged with the tiny firm run by Ramón Fonseca, a Panamanian novelist, lawyer, and politician.

“Together,” Fonseca once reportedly told a journalist, “we have created a monster.”

(read the full article here)

They say sunlight is the best disinfectant. Hopefully, this data release shines a much-needed brightness on the shadow practices of the 0.1%. The pathway to a more equitable social future lies through closing the loopholes the elites abuse and a populist insistence on transparency and accountability. Exposes like these Panama Papers are important progress milestones along that path.

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23 Comments

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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Iceland wins!

The Prime Minister is stepping down!Good for them!

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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My bias on this

I have not studied this topic and I have to go to work and am busy upgrading my garden.  But I will just lay out my pre-existing assumptions and biases:

1.  The elite are master game players.  Not all are brilliant, but they employ brilliant strategists.

2.  Multiple sources show that the elite use the creation of myths and deceptions to pursue the "Game of Thrones."   What is bad can be re-framed as good and what is good becomes bad.  Vilification of opponents.

3.  The elite own the mainstream news media and influence heavily many alternative media sites.

4.  The "leak" is a powerful myth-making technique.

5.  Many of the "bad people" exposed by this leak seem to be the opponents of the AngloZionist empire such as Putin and Assad.

6.  Iceland was the only country that has jailed corrupt banking establishment.  Now its PM comes under fire.

Another suspicious soul explains at Press For Truth.

https://pressfortruth.ca/top-stories/panama-papers-cui-bono/

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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About the elite media

The reason why the topic wasn't covered in the NY Times among others yesterday is that they were intentionally left out of the loop.It appears as if the Times does not play well with others and has a hard time keeping secrets.So there's that.Given that a large percentage of the information uncovered was from overseas centered around one Panamanian law firm, the brilliant investigative reporters executed the job flawlessly.Oh and the consortium is a non-profit...And they managed to sucker-punch some of the most greedy,corrupted,meglomaniacal power brokers the world currently has on stage.Not bad for A years worth of hard work...Hats off to them..... 

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sand_puppy
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Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western Elite

The Panama Papers will not be used to implicate western oligarchs.  George Washington summarizes a paper by Craig Murray.  Only the enemies of the AngloZionist empire need fear exposure.

Craig Murray is an author, broadcaster and human rights activist. He was British Ambassador to Uzbekistan from August 2002 to October 2004 and Rector of the University of Dundee from 2007 to 2010.

From Wahsingtonsblog.com

Corporate Media Gatekeepers Protect Western 1% From Panama Leak:

Whoever leaked the Mossack Fonseca papers appears motivated by a genuine desire to expose the system that enables the ultra wealthy to hide their massive stashes, often corruptly obtained and all involved in tax avoidance. These Panamanian lawyers hide the wealth of a significant proportion of the 1%, and the massive leak of their documents ought to be a wonderful thing.

Unfortunately the leaker has made the dreadful mistake of turning to the western corporate media to publicise the results. In consequence the first major story, published today by the Guardian, is all about Vladimir Putin and a cellist on the fiddle. As it happens I believe the story and have no doubt Putin is bent. 

But why focus on Russia? Russian wealth is only a tiny minority of the money hidden away with the aid of Mossack Fonseca. In fact, it soon becomes obvious that the selective reporting is going to stink. 

The Suddeutsche Zeitung, which received the leak, gives a detailed explanation of the methodology the corporate media used to search the files. The main search they have done is for names associated with breaking UN sanctions regimes. The Guardian reports this too and helpfully lists those countries as Zimbabwe, North Korea, Russia and Syria. The filtering of this Mossack Fonseca information by the corporate media follows a direct western governmental agenda. There is no mention at all of use of Mossack Fonseca by massive western corporations or western billionaires – the main customers. And the Guardian is quick to reassure that “much of the leaked material will remain private.

What do you expect? The leak is being managed by the grandly but laughably named “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists”, which is funded and organised entirely by the USA’s Center for Public Integrity. Their funders include

Ford Foundation
Carnegie Endowment
Rockefeller Family Fund
W K Kellogg Foundation
Open Society Foundation (Soros)

among many others. Do not expect a genuine expose of western capitalism. The dirty secrets of western corporations will remain unpublished.

Expect hits at Russia, Iran and Syria and some tiny “balancing” western country like Iceland. A superannuated UK peer or two will be sacrificed – someone already with dementia.

The corporate media – the Guardian and BBC in the UK – have exclusive access to the database which you and I cannot see. They are protecting themselves from even seeing western corporations’ sensitive information by only looking at those documents which are brought up by specific searches such as UN sanctions busters. Never forget the Guardian smashed its copies of the Snowden files on the instruction of MI6.

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sand_puppy
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Who benefits, who supports it, who decides what to "leak"

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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Insulting the work and conspiracy theory fodder:

The Blitzkrieg blog Or the opinion of Craig Murray definately isnt the place where i would go go to receive my initial impressions on the Panama Papers.My money is on the 400 investigative journalists in 65 countries that actually uncovered the truth.So far it has implicated a string of world leaders,their families and very close associates.What i have learned so far is that an intricate web of shell companies were set up for the sole purpose of hiding money.Some of that money has come off the backs of the hard working citizens in the form of skimming the countries Treasuries.We have already seen the political consequences in Iceland. .How is that a bad thing?This was one massive hack,in this instance that has done an enormous amount of good.They are already rejoicing in Iceland.Uncovering lying,cheating and stealing off the backs of innocent people make me smile.

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cmartenson
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Well, it is a little odd

I noted this on the Off The Cuff podcast today, but it's been quite odd to me that the only US citizens or corporations named so far are all small fry.  

If that's all that results, I will be suspicious that the database was either pre-scrubbed or intentionally under reported to shield some while exposing others.

And none of that would surprise me, because that's exactly how the press works in every place on the planet.   

I will say that, if it's true that there was a selectivity to the process, exposing the relatives of the top leadership of China was ballsy.  They've got their own crack hackers too...maybe this will all get interesting.

But as you say Ed:

This was one massive hack,in this instance that has done an enormous amount of good.They are already rejoicing in Iceland.Uncovering lying,cheating and stealing off the backs of innocent people make me smile.

...on balance this was an awesome expose!  :)  I'm smiling too.

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kaimu
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FATCA STREET

Aloha! Over on FATCA Street the foreign bankers who ever so begrudgingly gave up their accounts of American citizens under threat from the US Treasury/IRS find that it is a one way street. The US banks do not have to divulge the foreigners with accounts at their banks. Now the USA is the destination of choice for global tax evaders. With the Swiss banks compromised the USA is the "New Swiss"! This from the lips of disgruntled Bahamian bank/insurers.

If you want a easy way to revive foreign flow of funds into US banks and the markets do FATCA then don't reciprocate! With the EU in collapse mode the US Dollar and US bank sanctions to foreigners is a no brainer. Negative rates prevail in Europe while the US Fed breathes hope into higher rates for now. Why any European citizen thinks the EU is a great idea is beyond me. The EU is a messed up dictatorship. Who in Brussels was ever elected to office? However you do not have to be an unelected dictator to be a dictator. Plenty of dictators like Chavez were elected. We even have a few here in the USA, who were elected.

I really do not understand this global belief by the global citizenry that somehow government is their savior. When has government saved anyone? If anything hundreds of millions of innocent people have died over the past 100 years due to "government". Once in power these politicians are not inclined to step down for anyone's benefit, least of all We The People!

 

 

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sand_puppy
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Catherine Austin Fitts follows the Panama Papers Story

1.  Nicely done short video by Suddeutsche Zeitung, the German Newspaper that leaked data sent to them by an anonymous source.

2.   An entertainingly well written (if you like clever but biting humor) from the Off Guardian website about the disposability of those included in the leak and the people and institutions that fund the "international humanitarian" organizations that produced the leak.

-------

Panama Papers: Revealing details live in the gaps between the lines.

Certain species of lizard – when threatened, cornered or in danger of being eaten – have the ability to “drop” their tail. This process, “Autotomy” (from the Greek, auto=self, tome=severing), enables the lizard to flee whilst the predator gets a brief distraction and small meal. The lizard survives. Tails grow back.

A simple, efficient survival method. The body ejects a replaceable part in protection of the vital whole. Easily adapted for the “Grand Chess Board”. Pinochet, the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein. All have played their part, only to be dropped when it became convenient. Despots and puppets grow back, too.

The Panama Papers broke, yesterday. Dozens of MSM outlets joined together in echoing this startling piece of investigative journalism: Rich people avoid paying their taxes. I know, I was shocked too.

Most of the BIG HEADLINES and threatening looking diagrams were reserved for Vladimir Putin (The Guardian) and Bashar al-Assad (The Independent), despite the fact that (as we covered last night) neither are named in any of the leaked documents.

The names that ARE mentioned? A who’s who of disposable despots, monsters of the week and inconveniently uncooperative politicians…with a few minor British political figures to add some verisimilutude.

  • Petro Poroshenko, a slow, stupid, politically inept post-Soviet fossil thrown into the least appealing Presidency on the planet.
  • Pavlo Lazarenko – convicted criminal and former Ukrainian PM.
  • Bidzina Ivanishvili – former PM of Georgia under the bufoon Saakashvili.
  • Sheikh Khalifa, President of the UAE and Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber bin Mohammed bin Thani Al Thani former PM of Qatar, both magnets for acceptable criticism.
  • The King of Saudi Arbia, the perrenial boogeyman of “alternative” thinkers, and reposit of all mainstream criticism of any Western foreign policy – a sock puppet with a scary face, that we’re all encouraged to boo and hiss at so we can feel we have made a stand.

Ten-a-penny climbers, idiots and monsters. Lizard tails all. Cut them off and grow a new one.

No American citizens were named. No American companies were implicated. In espionage terms this is what they call a “limited hangout.”

...

Who are the international forces who fund these institutions?

The cooperative of intelligence-backed hacks who “broke” this “story” all hail from The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) a “special project” (their website tells us) of the not-at-all-Orwellian-sounding “Center for Public Integrity”.

Now, we’ve been here before – see our work on The New East Network – let’s just take a stroll down the About page of the Center for Public Integrity, and find out where they get their money from:

  • The Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Foundation – they don’t have a website, but their President does. He’s a “philanthropist and entrepeneur”. In case you’re wondering…yes, that is “Goldman” as in “Goldman Sachs”.
  • The Ford Foundation – yes, as in Henry Ford. Business magnate and Nazi collaborator.
  • Open Society Foundation – we’ve tangled with these fine folks before. The OSF are an NGO set up by billionaire George Soros. Because billionaires love justice and freedom.
  • The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and Rockefeller Family Fund – how exactly these two things differ I’m not sure, however they do both exist, and they both give money to the CfPI, because the Rockefellers are all about that integrity.
  • The Carnegie Corporation of New York – As in Andrew Carnegie, the billionaire. As in the Carnegie Endowment for American Hegemony…sorry, I mean International Peace.

So – to sum up:

George Soros, David Rockefeller, the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, Goldman-Sachs et al. – who are all rabidly anti-corruption and always pay their taxes – all pooled their resources to fund the “International Consortium of Investigative Journalists” and tasked them with investigating shady international financial practices.

The result is this “leak”, a list of geo-political nobodies, has-beens, easy targets and dead ancestors....all “enemies” of the West.

And a reminder that the ultra-wealthy, like George Soros, use their money to play the "Geopolitical Chess Game."  I certainly do not understand the deep state factions and how the Soros Open Society works with the CIA front USAID.  But lots is going on.

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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Meet the reporters from the Panama Papers

The LA Times wrote an excellent piece introducing the reporters i who worked on the Panama Papers.Included in the investigation, the BBC,Investigative reporter Holly Watts from the Guardian,the Miami Herald, etc.The piece explains how it all started and the very respectable players involved.The piece was written by Matt Pearse.And yes the reporters are very proud of the work.No conspiracy there.Also,check the calibur of journalists from the ICIJ Britain.The credentials speak for themselves.

Geedard's picture
Geedard
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Ironic

For sure - Panama, the Bahamas and other offshore havens are used for laundering dirty cash and anonymous accounting trickery.    But does that mean that everyone named is a crook, or that every transaction smells?   Of course not.

When I trained as an accountant - we were TOUGHT that it was the duty of every good accountant / tax adviser etc - to advise clients how to "avoid" tax.   What was drummed into us was the sentence "Tax EVASION is illegal, but tax AVOIDANCE is 100% legal - not only is it 100% legal, but it makes 100% common sense".         But today, sentiment has shifted and now every 2nd sentence purports that tax avoidance is somehow illegal or unsavoury. Not so.

The irony in this story is that the US itself is probably the largest tax haven on the planet (Nevada anyone?)...it makes great effort to keep track of US assets abroad, but not of foreign assets in the US!!

(NOTE: In 2010, Congress passed the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act, or Fatca, as the U.S. Justice Department began prosecuting Swiss banks for enabling tax evasion. Fatca forces certain financial firms to disclose to the IRS any foreign accounts held by U.S. citizens. Fatca doesn’t, however, bind banks to provide information on foreigners with U.S. accounts to regulators abroad. The U.S. has entered into agreements with some other countries requiring such exchange with foreign regulators, but tax planners say they are considered relatively easy to avoid. That’s where the OECD came in, with its own international take on Fatca that the U.S. declined to sign.)

So, whilst I agree that the Panama Papers will cast sunlight on a variety of unsavoury characters and transactions - my belief is that the REAL underlying motivation behind the "leaked papers" was considerably more "politically and cynically motivated" to cast global opinion shadows on all the rest of the world (suckers), whilst leaving a whole bunch of US and large western illegal tax evaders completely invisible and untouched (the "elite").

Finally - if the world's lawmakers REALLY want to reduce tax evasion, inversions and the like - why don't they just stop pointing the finger of blame at everyone around the world, quit whining, roll their sleeves up and just sort out their various domestic tax laws.   Bit of hard work wouldn't do any of them any harm.

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Adam Taggart
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Elizabeth Warren Brings Out The Hammer

Here's a rare breath of fresh air for those who actually care about accountability. From Elizabeth Warren's Facebook feed:

Senate Republicans held a Banking Committee hearing today to talk about why we should roll back the rules on mortgages and credit cards because they’re just too costly for the banks. One of their witnesses, Leonard Chanin, had helped lead the Federal Reserve division that refused to regulate deceptive mortgages — including the subprime lending that helped spark the crisis. The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission called that “pivotal failure” the “prime example” of the kind of hands-off regulatory approach that allowed the crisis to happen. Today I asked Mr. Chanin: Given his abysmal track record, why should anyone take him seriously when he says the new rules are too expensive? Watch what he said.

Banking Committee Hearing on Consumer Finance Regulations

Senate Republicans held a Banking Committee hearing today to talk about why we should roll back the rules on mortgages and credit cards because they’re just too costly for the banks. One of their witnesses, Leonard Chanin, had helped lead the Federal Reserve division that refused to regulate deceptive mortgages — including the subprime lending that helped spark the crisis. The bipartisan Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission called that “pivotal failure” the “prime example” of the kind of hands-off regulatory approach that allowed the crisis to happen. Today I asked Mr. Chanin: Given his abysmal track record, why should anyone take him seriously when he says the new rules are too expensive? Watch what he said.

Posted by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren on Tuesday, April 5, 2016

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Hacked private information as a political weapon

 

 

I believe that it is almost universal that each of us has some embarrassing aspect to our lives.  An affair, a penis that went somewhere that it shouldn’t have, a sexted picture, a drunken photo snapped at 3:00 am 20 years ago at a frat party, an exaggerated contributions to charity claimed on income taxes, a stint in an addiction recovery center, a positive drug screen on an employment test, a carelessly worded email where we vented viciously believing our words were private.

 

So what if a group of power players has surreptitious access to each individuals  private information?   Say the NSA meets the for-profit MIC and the Global Domination Group.  And this group decides to take down an obstacle.  You.  Nothing personal.  Just a strategy decision.

 

Any one of these indiscretions can be pulled out of each person’s archive of embarrassing history and put on the front page of the newspaper as an “anonymous leak.”  For truth.

 

It is like a personally designed cruise missile with your name on it.  And it is stored in your cell phone, the cell phones of your friends and on private email servers.

 

“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” 

 

The problem is that we put our own sins out of our minds and remain identified as a “good person.”  We forget that there are little indiscretions hidden in the electronic record of our past.

 

These indiscretions are cruise missiles, with each of our names written on them, waiting to be launched by “a hacker.”  For truth and justice.

 

 

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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Ramon Fonseca

The founding partner told the AP that his law firm had very few Ameican clients because the focus was on Latin America and Europe.Briebarts playbook on The Putin conspiracy may be in peril today...He will not go down without a fight....

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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Pulitzer Prize winner

Jake Bernstein nicely unpacks the shadow art world in the Panama Papers.Not to be outdone we also have Will Fitzgibbon who leads us down the path of Spy chiefs,Secret agencies and CIA operatives.Nice work for the 1st weeks initial dump.

sand_puppy's picture
sand_puppy
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Edwardelinski, please include links

So we can read about what you are describing.

Thanks

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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sorry sand puppy

Computer problems.The piece written by Jake Bernstein and was was published by Vice.Jake is a member of ICIJ and is a writer for ProPublica among others.The piece by Fitzgibbons can be found at ICIJ.org.

Edwardelinski's picture
Edwardelinski
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Writers like

Laura Poitras,Greenwald,Taibbi.Dave Sirota,Bernstein seek alternative jobs in order to do what they do best,tell the truth...

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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personal cruise missiles

SP-

These indiscretions are cruise missiles, with each of our names written on them, waiting to be launched by “a hacker.”  For truth and justice.

I think that's 100% correct.  It is why NSA funding never gets cut, why Obama (and everyone else) is all for keeping the current spy regime in place.  They don't dare do otherwise.

Its a J Edgar Hoover wet dream of information flow.  They are saving everything on everyone.  That way, if you become important, and then suddenly you do something annoying, they just trawl through all the crapload of infomration they've saved to find out something they can use.

If you are going to be an important congressman on an intelligence committee, you will have had to think about controlling information about yourself starting in the late 1990s through to today.  If you just start thinking about this issue now, that's way too late, that ship has already sailed, your goose is cooked, etc.

And if you are the very rare completely clean person, well, then there's always the single car accident.

I think this is not a conspiracy, it is likely just how things operate these days.

Yoxa's picture
Yoxa
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Conscious of cruise missiles?

I wonder if more people are becoming conscious of the harmful potential of those personal cruise missiles.


Quote:

 Original sharing of personal stories -- rather than posts about public information like news articles -- dropped 21 percent year over year as of mid-2015, The Information, a tech news site, reported Wednesday.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-07/facebook-said-to-face-decline-in-people-posting-personal-content

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Time2help
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Context (content) collapse
Quote:

Facebook is mulling a “context collapse” on its platform as the number of people sharing original, and personal posts has suffered a troublesome decline.

Now you may be thinking, “wait a second, my News Feed is filled with statuses about all sorts of random stuff” — but that’s exactly the problem.

According to sources in the know, the social network is worried that its service is turning into a link-sharing website. Although the number of posted status updates remains “strong,” it’s the content that’s causing concern, reports Bloomberg.

Facebook’s close to 1.6 billion users are increasingly posting about news and information derived from other websites. Instead of commenting on a night out, tagging others in personal statuses, or checking into places, there has been a gradual move away from intimate posts...

...the original sharing of personal Facebook posts has declined 21 percent year-over-year since mid-2015. Insiders at the company refer to this statistic as a “context collapse.” Even CEO Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the issue at staff meetings, according to the unnamed sources.

 

 

davefairtex's picture
davefairtex
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from Person of Interest

Reese: Never understood why people put all their information on those sites.  Used to make our job a lot easier in the CIA

Finch: Of course, that's why I created them.

Reese: You're telling me you invented online social networking, Finch?

Finch: The Machine needed more information.  People's social graph, their associations...the government has been trying to figure it out for years.  Turns out, most people were happy to volunteer it.  Business wound up being quite profitable, too.

Perhaps..."Peak Facebook?"

Perhaps we will look back 10 years from now and ask, "why on earth did we do THAT!"

 

Geedard's picture
Geedard
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CIA

Interesting...

Just what we are all thinking anyway I guess...

http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/12/swiss-banker-whistleblower-cia-behind-pan...

 

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