Ivo was right about Facebook

South African journalist and pundit Ivo Vegter has rapidly become one of my favourite daily reads (his is one of the 30 surviving feeds in my “daily” list that once numbered 300 feeds).

One contemporary cultural phenomenon that he was dead right about is Facebook. In 2007, when Facebook was peaking, Ivo started warning that Facebook was way more sinister than it appeared. When it was rumoured that Microsoft was going to buy it, Ivo publicly committed to leaving Facebook in the event Microsoft bought in to Facebook

It did.

Ivo, true to his word, deactivated his account and decamped for Google’s Orkut.

Since then Facebook has been the subject of increasingly hostile user and press attacks, mainly related to its dreadful privacy policies and practices.

Now the arty-farty types and designers seem to have turned on ole’ Facebook too. Phenomenally successful new image aggregation site FFFFound has these two images below showing strong popularity. Hats off Ivo, you told us so.

Freddy Hagen on Cairo Megacity

Freddy Hagen is an extraordinarily talented Danish photographer.

Recently he returned from a trip to the Middle East and has uploaded some slide shows.

One in particular is a must see, Cairo Megacity. It is a slide show with music and both the music and photographs are utterly beautiful.

His other slide shows are also superb. Don’t miss Aid al-Adha, a photo essay about the Islamic festival where feat animals are slaughtered on the streets of Cairo (nor for the squeamish).

He also offers a radically alternative view of Denmark’s capital Copenhagen in another superb musical sideshow called Copenhagen 2007. Don’t miss the dramatic riot footage at the end.

La Belle Epoque

Abelard.org has a lovely short introduction to the fascinating era of peace, prosperity and scientific now known as La Belle Époque:

La Belle Époque, the Beautiful Era, is an expression born after the First World War to evoke the period after in the Napoleonic campaigns and before the watershed in Europe of the Great War – the years from 1890 to 1914. The name encompasses the realities of expansion, carefree attitudes, a faith in progress, and an affluence spreading down through society, together with a nostalgia. The nostalgia was an embellishing memory of reality coming out of the trauma of the First World War.

La Belle Epoque | France zone at abelard.org

The best of recent Harvard Business Online

How to Be a Social Media Provocateur – An analysis of how to engage your own customer base using Social Media by the authors of Groundswell, a recent book about how people are using online social technologies (blogs, social networking sites, YouTube, podcasts) to discuss products and companies.

12 Steps to Stop Scapegoating in Your Company – Gill Corkindale, an executive coach and writer based in London, asks “Have you ever watched as a work colleague has been blamed, exposed or dismissed for the mistakes of their boss or colleague? What have been the effects on the individual and their colleagues? How has it been handled?”

The unrepentant megalomania of Dr Megalommatis

Have agents of Serbia’s Radical Party or perhaps renegade elements of the Serbian Intelligence Service successfully penetrated the US right-wing media establishment to conduct False Flag Operations against legitimate critics of Serbia?

Sometimes it seems that way.

It appears that someone is successfully seeding trolls, shills, stooges and others agents into various media outlets, apparently with instructions to publish anti-Serb diatribes that are so obviously riddled with lies and exaggerations that they undermine legitimate efforts to address Serbian chauvinism.

The first of these (apparent) stooges that I came across was one Stephen (Suleiman) Schwartz, ostensibly a middle aged “scholar” and convert to Islam (from Judaism).

I discovered one of his an anti-Serb hate pieces in Pajamas Media which prompted me to write a comprehensive response on my blog which eventually led to my being offered an opportunity to debunk him in Pajamas Media itself.

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“Three fingers in your ass”

Today I found another Serbophobe stooge, this time operating under the name Dr. Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis (no joke, but henceforth I will call him Dr Mega).

Dr Mega is apparently an “Orientalist, Historian, Political Scientist and author of 12 books”. Like Schwartz, Dr Mega is a middle aged convert to Islam and self-described “scholar”. Someone forwarded me one of his recent articles – “The Unrepented Serb: Epitome of Chauvinist Danger” – which turns out to one of the most risible Serb-baiting pieces of racist hate wrtiting that I have read since, well, since Stephen Schwartz’s cartoonish attack on Serbs in Pajamas Media.

I was going to debunk Dr Mega’s diatribe too, but there is no need. It is self-advertising rubbish that is riddled with obvious absurdities, contradictions and lies. But that is not my only reason for not wasting any time debunking him. There is no point. I don’t believe Dr Mega is really waging Jihad against Serbs and I don’t think he even believes his own articles. I suspect that Dr Mega is nothing but a paid provocateur, for hire race-baiter in the employ of advertising networks or possibly an intelligence service somewhere.

Now I do not actually know anything about Dr Mega apart from what he has said about himself, so this is just speculation, but his behavior fits the profile.

A paid provocateur writes deliberately offensive material, usually disguised as journalism or commentary, which is designed to bait and infuriate a target community for the purpose of driving traffic – outraged members of the target community – to advert laden websites where their page impressions and occasional click-throughs make big bucks for the operators.

A hint to this being Dr Mega’s motive and possibly his real profession lies in the publisher of his hate piece, America Chronicle, which is ostensibly a low-rent news magazine but in fact it is just a front for Ultio LLC, a commercial affiliate and advertising network. Other sites in the network include California Chronicle and several pseudo-brands, all of them either reposting syndicated content or hosting bait articles like Dr Mega’s piece.

Sites like that have a simple business model: post outrageous and controversial content to drive traffic to your adverts. Their modus operandus? You simply select a target community (often an embattled ethnic group), pay people like Dr Mega to slander them, then wait for the outraged visitors come surging in as news of the slander travels through ethnic communities.

One example from an Ultio LLC site is a bogus field poll posted on a high traffic republican forum claiming that a political candidate was a right-wing extremist. In another example Ethiopian history was falsified to bait the Ethiopian community into visiting the site (and its adverts).

This baiting is a disgusting and cynical practice.

The best policy regarding trolls in general is to ignore them. It is doubly true of paid shills and provocateurs working for marketing and advertising companies.

If you believe that the publisher is in any way a decent operation, then make sure you send a short note to the editor or managing board to register your protest. You might remind them that hate speech is illegal and warn them that you will flag their site to authorities and their advertisers.

In the case of American Chronicle and its sister sites, simply report them to Google Adsense for gross violations of policy. Google Adsense prohibits sites that have content that contains “racial intolerance, or advocacy against any individual, group, or organization”.

To anonymously submit your notification of a Google Adsense terms of use violation (e.g. racism against Serbs) simply click on the “Ads by Google” on any of the sites’ adverts, then click “Report a violation” and if the reason is hate speech, select “Website” and “Other”. Put a link to the article in the comment field and note that it constitutes hate speech. If the offending site’s Adsense account is suspended, they are out of business.

If you or your community are baited, go over to the site. Read the diatribe if you must. Then hit back smartly by hitting the baiters where it hurts, in their pockets.