If The Deutsche Post Does It It’s Different

As usual, German Scheiße doesn’t stink.

Deutsche Post

When it comes to data mining = Cambridge Analytica = Facebook = US-Amerika, we’re talking pure evil. The Deutsche Post, on the other hand, is the Deutsche Post so it ain’t no big deal – when they do the same thing. The outrage hält sich in Grenzen (is kept within limits).

Deutsche Post sold client microtargeting data to the Christian Democrats and Free Democrats before the 2017 elections. Is this a scandal along the lines of Cambridge Analytica in the US? That depends on whom you ask.

“German ‘data-driven’ canvassing cannot be compared with the highly sophisticated US campaigns, which use reliable data, experimental findings and data modeling to identify individual voter targets.”

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Germans Can’t Live Without Facebook

Or at least that’s the impression I get. Otherwise, if they were so terribly worried about what Facebook does with their data, they would simply stop using it. It’s still a “free” service, right? But, of course, nothing is ever for free.

Facebook

Facebook is open about collecting a broad variety of personal information, from facial recognition data to, yes, “likes” on other sites. Privacy-minded people can easily find out what Facebook knows about them and even download the data. So it’s not as if users were deceptively kept in the dark about Facebook’s harvesting of “21st century raw materials.” That, however, is not the Federal Cartel Office’s main concern; it’s that Facebook, as a company dominant in its market, forces users to agree to these harvesting practices: They don’t really have any place else to go for their digital social needs if they feel uncomfortable about how their data are used. If it’s a choice “between accepting ‘the whole Facebook package,’ including an extensive disclosure of personal data, or not using Facebook at all,” as the regulator put it in a December document, and if Facebook is a dominant company, it’s illegal in Germany.

The regulatory attack on personal data harvesting is based on the unproven assumption that the data are valuable.

Food For Thought Police

“Please spare us the thought police!” read a headline in Wednesday’s Bildzeitung.

Feige

As recently reported, the latest German censorship craze (exemplified by the Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz or “Internet Enforcement Law”) is already being abused by those who would make us think what we are told. This type of thing never takes very long, of course. I read this in a book in high school once long, long ago in a galaxy far away. It was called 1984 or something. The book, I mean.

Anyway, this law… meant to curtail hate speech on social media in Germany is stifling free speech and making martyrs out of anti-immigrant politicians whose posts are deleted. The law which took effect on Jan. 1 can impose fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million) on sites that fail to remove hate speech promptly. Twitter has deleted anti-Muslim and anti-migrant posts by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and blocked a satirical account that parodied Islamophobia.

But the case I really like is this one here: A German thought criminal had the audacity to criticize Germany’s reticence to support the protests in Iran and write “one could get the impression that Germany has become an unbelievably cowardly nation” in Facebook. This horrid example of hate speech was enough to get the user promptly blocked.

The outrage about this outrage about the other outrage (I’m running out of outrages) among the German population also remains rather reticent, to say the least. But they are law-abiding citizens, after all. The Germans. They don’t want to commit any thought crime or anything.

Einer der beiden Fälle betrifft Irina Schlegel (33), die Chefredakteurin des Kreml-kritischen Recherchemagazins „InformNapalmDeutsch“. Sie schrieb am 1. Januar im Zusammenhang mit der deutschen Zurückhaltung zu den Protesten im Iran: „Man bekommt den Eindruck, Deutsche sind eine unglaublich feige Nation geworden“. Zwei Tage später löschte Facebook den Post und sperrte die Verfasserin für drei Tage.

German Of The Day: Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz

That means… Beats the hell out of me. I think it means something like Internet Enforcement Law.

Mass

At any rate, it’s this really clever new law pushed through by German Justice Minister Heiko Mass (SPD) – a particularly lame duck because his party is now history after last week’s election – that forces Internet companies like Facebook to remove “obviously illegal” posts (whatever that means) within 24 hour or pay big fines. This takes care of “hate speech” forever, see? Brilliant.

Of course it will also take care of a lot of posts that will have nothing at all to do with hate speech but will be blocked anyway by these companies. Just in case, you know?

Free speech ist not quite as free as it used to be in Germany. But it’s worth it, right?

Kritiker bemängeln, dass die Rechtsdurchsetzung in private Hände gelegt wird, und sie fürchten ein “Overblocking“: Die Betreiber könnten im Zweifel lieber zu viele Inhalte entfernen, um nicht mit dem NetzDG in Konflikt zu geraten. Dadurch gerate die Meinungsfreiheit in Gefahr.

 

No Joke

Little old ladies just don’t seem to understand the world we are now living in. Not that I do, either. But still.

Hate Crime

In Germany, you can be arrested and fined €1,350 for finding jokes like these funny (and then sharing it on your Facebook page): “Do you have anything against refugees? Yes. Machine guns and hand grenades.”

And using some lame excuse like “I like to pass on funny things” won’t help you out here one little bit, ma’am. You are guilty of hate crime. Hate crime, you ask? What is hate crime? Well, hate crime, when it comes to jokes, is kind of like thoughtcrime only… No, wait. It is thoughtcrime. That’s precisely what it is. Now just sit back and relax, ma’am. We will purge that abominable joke from your mind with the help of this little red button right here.

„Ich leite gern spaßige Sachen weiter.”

This Man Is Not A Terrorist

It’s the woman standing next to him. Hardy, har, har.

Terrorist

Anas Modamani, who migrated to Germany from Syria, told the BBC that a photo he took with German leader Angela Merkel has been used in various reports claiming he was involved in several different terrorist attacks, which spread around Facebook.

Modamani hired a lawyer to file an injunction against the Menlo Park-based social network alleging the company failed to remove racist posts, in violation of German hate speech laws. The legal action comes as Facebook faces mounting pressure to do something about the proliferation of fake news on the social network.

Er wäre ein Paradebeispiel für gelungene Integration. Doch nach einem Selfie mit der Kanzlerin wird Anas Modamani immer wieder als Terrorist verunglimpft. Die Geschichte eines 19-Jährigen, der jetzt genug hat.

Our Fake News Is The Real Fake News

You know, just like our facts are the only facts that count? So don’t even THINK about muscling in on our territory, Facebook and Co.

Fake

EU Parliament President Martin Schulz (SPD) and Germany’s Justice Minister Heiko Maas (SPD) both came out swinging against fake news on Sunday.

In separate press interviews, the two German politicians discussed concrete plans to create laws banning platforms like Facebook from spreading fabricated stories presented as real news, something both men saw as harmful to democracy.

Thank goodness somebody is getting active on this, is all I can say. You need to understand that German state fake news providers not only have the responsibility of upholding the government party line, they must also ensure that those who are forced to finance official fake news production get the very most for their money. The money that isn’t theirs anymore, I mean.

German Of The Day: Vollspacko

That means “complete dumbass,” or something along those lines. And this guy below should know. When to use the term, I mean.

Vollspacko

“I only landed tenth place on Playboy’s Man of the Year! That’s nine places behind that complete dumbass Böhermann,” Till Schweiger wrote on Facebook.

And that, I think, is probably one of the most intelligent things I’ve ever heard Till Schweiger say.

„Beim Playboy bin ich auf auf Platz Zehn gelandet! 9 Plätze hinter dem Vollspacko Böhmermann.“

Fearless Leader: “Russian Cyber Attack Ain’t No Big Deal”

It was only 900,000 users, after all. For only a day or two. And is probably only just the beginning, so don’t worry. Be happy. And now sitzen machen!

Merkel

Cyber attacks from Russia are now so common that Germany must learn to cope with them as part of daily life, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Tuesday, after Europe’s top economy suffered its largest ever online assault.

She then moved on to more pressing matters. Like preparing to take a tough stand on the UK for Brexit or worrying about hate-speech on Facebook. Stuff like that.

“Such cyber attacks, or hybrid conflicts as they are known in Russian doctrine, are now part of daily life and we must learn to cope with them.”

Finding Friends Now Illegal In Germany

If you had any friends, you wouldn’t have to find them, right?

Facebook

And trying to find friends who aren’t your friends yet would only be an imposition and a possible violation of their Gott-given data privacy rights.

So just why are you trying to find these friends, anyway? Do you have some hidden agenda we don’t know about? What are you really up to? And, more importantly, why are you standing on ze corner?

Germany’s Federal Court of Justice has upheld a 2014 judgement that Facebook’s Friend Finder feature is illegal under laws concerning both unwanted commercial promotions and data protection, following an appeal by the social media giant.

The album (Weasels Ripped My Flesh) also documents the brief tenure of Lowell George (guitar and vocals), who went on to found the country-rock band Little Feat with Mothers bassist Roy Estrada . On “Didja Get Any Onya?”, George affects a German accent to relate a story of being a small boy in Germany and seeing “a lot of people stand around on the corners asking questions, ‘Why are you standing on the corner, acting the way you act, looking the way you look, why do you look that way?'”