The Social Media Assignment that turned into the Edward Snowden Rant.

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Preface: The assignment in my Social Media and Society class was the question on how I felt about the 4th Amendment and how it pertains to social media. Should social media accounts be private or public forums? Most of my peers focused a lot of the 4th Amendment in our discussion. I guess that would be okay, but this is a collegiate setting and I am almost positive that our Professor does not need a history education. I became increasingly agitated with my peers with not discussing the elephant in the room which no one wanted to discuss: The U.S. government, the NSA and monitoring of Americans. Not even an Edward Snowden mention. Who are these people?

In their defense, the only person(s) that can have decent conversations about this subject these days are my Husband (computer geek and old school IRC champ) and sometimes Mom. Yes I know, my Mom. When I try to have these conversations with my peers or whomever I believe has something between the ears, I get silence. Or “oh yeah that is scary huh?” My favorite is “well it doesn’t bother me.” Huh? What? Say that again please? When the suggestion is made to see Citizenfour (the Edward Snowden documentary) to people, I get the blank stare. Am I missing something? Why do people not care? It is frustrating for me and you will see it in the piece of work I submitted to the Professor and the class. So without further ado, my paper below.

When looking at the question of how the 4th Amendment rights come into question about social media use, one would need to read what a well-known activist has said on the subject (in a roundabout way). “The NSA has built an infrastructure that allows it to intercept almost everything. With this ability, the majority of human communications are automatically ingested without targeting. If I wanted to see your emails or your wife’s phone, all I have to do is use intercepts. I can get your emails, passwords, phone records, credit cards” Edward Snowden. Just take that comment in for a moment. When one reads the 4th Amendment which states “no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause,” the NSA (US government) has basically used the Amendment as toilet paper and flushed it down the toilet. We, the American public have allowed that to happen. How and why?

It was not until 9/11 that everything changed. Fear and terror became headlines to this day and our elected officials began to write a bill to combat terrorism. The United and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 was placed into law on October 26, 2001. Most individuals in Congress did not read it when this act was placed into law (Appalachian State University, n.d.). The Patriot Act was rushed into law and not signing the bill would have seemed unpatriotic. The Patriot Act gave the government, military, and police departments’ unprecedented access to our lives. We the American people voted these individuals to office. Still do.

We became obsessed with our cell phones. We tuned out and stopped true communication with our family and friends. We collectively read our cell phones on work breaks, lounging in the sun or on the couch, at the dinner table, during family time – the list goes on. We tend to wake up to Twitter or Facebook, read our quick news segments on our news apps and go on with our day. We post our “look at my kids, food, shoes, me, me and oh, me” and buy stuff with our phones. Distracted driving is at an all-time high and why? Our cell phones! Our overall attention span to anything that affects us is minuet.

Since we are not paying attention to what is happening around us and trust our own government immensely, a few events happened along the way. The U.S. and UK spies hacked into the largest producer of SIM cards in the entire world. Big deal? Think again. These spies were a “joint unit of operatives from the NSA and British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ” (Scahill, 2015). The company name is Gemalto, and the chips were made for “mobile phones serviced by AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and for next generation credit cards” (Scahill, 2015). Gemalto creates 2 billion SIMS a year. It is unknown how much this joint operation took. The reason this was done? Both governments needed encryption keys for 3G, 4G and LTE. Your SIM is now your Social Security Number (Scahill, 2015). Remember when Snowden talked about credit cards? Read the Scahill piece further about the link with the payment from your cell phones. I would not use Apply Pay or Google Wallet anytime soon. Feeling a bit violated yet? It gets better.

Recently, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) filed a lawsuit against the Sacramento County Sheriff’s department for their unwillingness to produce documents under the California Public Records Act for the Sheriff’s use of the product “Stingray” (Lang, 2015). The ACLU is asking what the Sheriff department plans to do with the information obtained by the Stingray technology. What can this Stingray technology do? It is a type of IMSI (International Mobile Subscriber Identity) tracker, or a device that can mimic a cell tower. It can track anyone in real time as well as “the unique ID and phone numbers” (Bott & Thom, 2014) dialed by a phone. This includes outgoing calls and texts. The Sacramento Sheriff department is citing the Homeland Security Act for not cooperating and has a “confidentiality agreement with the federal government, which provided the technology” (Lang, 2015). Huh? Why does the Sacramento County Sheriff need to know what is said on Facebook or maybe a text to a friend?

Our children are being monitored. In an article from Politico.com, by Stephanie Simon states that ”School districts and colleges across the nation are hiring private companies to monitor students’ online activity, down to individual keystrokes, to scan their emails for objectionable content and to scrutinize their public posts on Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram and other popular sites. The surveillance services will send principals text-message alerts if a student types a suspicious phrase or surfs to a web site that raises red flags” (Simon, 2015). In fact, a security test company working for the publishing giant Pearson is looking for kids’ posts online about Common Core’s tests (Simon, 2015). It has come down to sleuthing the children.

If you are a person who uses the Internet, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media application and have an expectation of privacy, well then you have to be an idiot. Privacy does not exist. It is ridiculous to think otherwise. Facebook has ways to market to the individual in their own feed by what they say or do (Constine, 2014). Twitter is starting to give their users “promoted posts” much to their users’ dismay. These websites can monitor topics, posts or individuals that could be considered offensive or inappropriate for some users and block the material. Somewhere along the way, we the American public are okay with monitoring. When did that happen?

We are all monitored now without a warrant or cause. It is our own fault and this should bother every single American. The NSA via the Patriot Act has basically shredded the 4th Amendment with the unchecked monitoring of the citizens of the United States. Although individuals say “I do not do anything wrong so it is okay.” Is it okay for the government to know your conversations with family? What if you hired an attorney? Is it no longer “confidential?” Is it okay for the US government to know how much money you spend and where? Is it okay for the government to monitor what you view on the Internet? What if you have an opinion? Is it okay to have to keep it yourself for fear it will have ramifications with your own government at a later date? Have we as Americans become too lazy, too apathetic to what is going on or are we all too scared to speak up and say anything? What is going to take to say this is not okay and it needs to stop? If dissention and protest conflicts with Pilates on Wednesday, well there are priorities right? The lack of outrage is disheartening, embarrassing and disgusting.

Citizenfour is a documentary directed by Laura Poitras, about Edward Snowden speaking to Glenn Greenwald in Hong Kong before the first leak about the NSA. Regardless if the people believe he is a traitor or not, he believed he had to expose the US government in their monitoring tactics. It is undeniable based on information presented that there is no such thing as privacy, although people think it still exists. There is a reason why governments want the focus on privacy and ponder on the following. In Citizenfour, Edward Snowden makes a statement that is a poignant and true: “What we used to call liberty and freedom we now call Privacy” (Poitras, 2014). Liberty and freedom is the core of the Constitution and we the American people have allowed our own government to shit on it. Nice.

Works Cited
Appalachian State University. (n.d.). The USA Patriot Act. Retrieved from Department of Government and Justice Studies: http://gjs.appstate.edu/media-coverage-crime-and-criminal-justice/usa-patriot-act

Bott, M., & Thom, J. (2014, June 23). Is sheriff’s department using tracking and data-collecting device without search warrants? Retrieved from News 10 Sacramento: http://www.news10.net/story/news/investigations/2014/06/23/is-sacramento-county-sheriff-dept-using-stingray-to-track-collect-data/11296461/

Constine, J. (2014, April 3). Why is Facebook Page Reach Decreasing? More competition and Limited Attention. Retrieved from Techcrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/03/the-filtered-feed-problem/

Lang, M. (2015, March 10). Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department sued over ‘Stingray’ surveillance technology. Retrieved from The Sacramento Bee: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/crime/article13281356.html

Poitras, L. (Director). (2014). Citizenfour [Motion Picture].

Scahill, J. B. (2015, February 19). The Great SIM Heist . Retrieved March 21, 2015 https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/02/19/great-sim-heist/

Simon, S. (2015, March 21). Common Core’s cyber spies. Retrieved from Politico: http://www.politico.com/story/2015/03/cyber-snoops-track-students-116276.html

The Power of Social Media

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IMAG0447 Social Media is amazing and here is why…….

I checked my mailbox this afternoon and received a letter from someone who shares the same first name as me. She was super appreciative of what I have shared as of late and the fact that I have been ill has had an impact.

However it was my post about my childhood and my affinity to Charles Schultz that had made an impact with her. I appreciate that because sometimes I feel like I do not matter or I am not important in the bigger picture of life. That’s my shit to deal with, and do not feel sorry for me. I have decided that 2015 is a time of honesty. I do best in odd years. Why? Because I am odd….and I love that about me.
So….with that being said. This person sent me Charlie Brown and Snoopy Valentines. I opened up my mailbox and got this envelope…when I opened it up, I read the letter and got these sweet I heart you remembrances.

Here is the thing folks…..she’s never met me…but I feel we have this kindred spirit that speaks of who we are as a part of a bigger humanity more than ourselves. Know what? I love that about social media….it reaches people you would never think or have the opportunity to reach and for that….it is awesome.

Hugs D!

Welp…..

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The New Year

It has been six months since I have written anything. Well, I take that back because that is not necessarily true. I have written so many things as of late due to school that it has zapped my strength in writing about anything else remotely interesting. I have made a promise to myself to write at least one interesting thing that DOES NOT have anything to do with English once a month. No excuses though. I have seriously screwed the pooch in not writing anything else but school work. I need to allow myself the time to enjoy writing and not feel that it is a “task” which what school has felt like. I liken to believe that I let that bleed into my personal writing attitude. Or maybe I was just too stressed out? Lazy? Bad Attitude? Who knows. What I can promise from now on is more stories from yours truly with maybe a school essay here and there. Listen folks, I am just glad 2014 is gone. I do better on odd number years. Here is to the new year and more stories soon. Cheers!

Prospecting

Essay written for my Sales class – August 2014

The article that chosen for the prospecting essay was written by Larry Prevost who is a Dale Carnegie Instructor and what he terms a “Social Media Evangelist.”  The title of the article is called “30 Tips for Creative Sales Prospecting.”  It is a basic article however he makes valid points on why salespersons are not successful and what to do to get back on track or take a “different direction.”  (Prevost, 2008)

In this article, Prevost states that sales people have constant issues with “finding a stream of incoming potential customers to talk with.”  This is true in the fact that business sales are not going to fall in ones lap.  An individual needs to be prospecting all the time to keep the sales funnel operating.  A sales funnel (pipeline) is a “trust-based sales process” in which at the top of the funnel is very wide where “sales opportunities exist.”  (Ingram, 2008)  Once the leads start down through the funnel, leads that are not good opportunities are weeded out and taken out of the funnel. 

What is important to remember is this:  the more leads that are weeded out of the funnel, the narrower the funnel becomes.  Hence, prospecting (a large part of the job) while selling is key to sales individuals.  In the article, Prevost states that some sales individuals “fall into a rut.”  Why?  It is based on the persons own behavior. (Prevost, 2008) Salespersons have been known to “fall back on comfortable behavior.”  (Prevost, 2008)  If it works, why fix it?  That mentality could be lost dollars in their own wallets. 

With that in mind, here are some interesting tips that Prevost gives that could give a person to get out of that “rut” and challenge themselves to do more.  Starting with item number two:  “Give a talk or presentation at a networking event, a conference, local service organization or industry meeting.  Have plenty of business cards on hand for distribution, and raffle off a prize at the end of the event to collect business cards from the audience.”  (Prevost, 2008) This idea is great to get the sales representatives name out in the field of their interest. Any event would give great leads by those who choose to enter the raffle, by calling them either that day or the next following day and introducing themselves and brand or service in which they are offering. 

Another great idea by Prevost is to “attend and participate in local seminars, workshops, and networking events.  In today’s environment, there are quite a few online networking events that offer participants the opportunity to share information in joint chat rooms.”  (Prevost, 2008)  Although chat rooms have gone to the wayside to social media, the use of Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter on the Internet is a great way to share your products and to find out where the next local seminar and workshop will be to attend.  Prevost shares the tip of “establishing yourself as a local or online resource.”  (Prevost, 2008)  This is in the same social media category as discussed, however establishing a blog to share industry information and to become the “source” in the local community is a great idea and does not cost any prospecting expenses.

Business announcements whether in a business journal, newspaper or online is another way to generate leads.  Prevost mentions to “read the paper and look for promotions, press releases new product announcements, awards etc. Write congratulatory notes or send a relevant current article with a personal note.”  (Prevost, 2008)  This is an excellent idea and salespersons do not utilize this enough.  A personal note has gone to the wayside due to e-mails, tweets and texts.  When sending that personal note, it shows that the salesperson took their time and effort to send a congratulatory note and people remember that.  It is important to follow up with that note by contacting that person within a reasonable amount of time to do a formal introduction.

These last two tips is for the new salesperson who has not done a cold call in their life.  That first call can be scary and if the person is on the other line says “no,” well that is a bit defeating.  Tip number one would be: Do the research.  Make sure that the salesperson is familiar with the product or service.  If the salesperson does not know a certain aspect of the company, research it.  Odds are, a customer is going to ask that question.  Tip number two:  “develop compelling cold calling scripts to introduce yourself, get an appointment, leave a voicemail, overcome objections, get through the gatekeeper or ask for the referral.”  (Prevost, 2008)  If the salesperson does not know where to begin, ask a veteran salesperson in the office.  Ask them what works for them.  See if the company has a mentorship program or a trainer to help the salesperson creating their own scripts.  Practice the scripts until there is a comfort level, because ultimately the salesperson will develop their own style and practice makes perfect. 

In closing, it does not matter if a salesperson is just starting out in sales or is a veteran in the company.  At one time or another, getting into a rut can happen.  The key is to be able to recognize when it is happening and to seek out new ways of prospecting so that the salespersons business is successful and ever growing.  These tips and other mentionable ones in Prevost’s article are worth reviewing and contemplating.  Happy Selling! 

Free the Internet : Monopolies, the FCC and Net Neutrality

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The Internet is becoming a hostage to corporate monopolies.   Just as an individual needs electricity or gas, the Internet should be considered a utility.  Currently a hot debate is brewing about the Internet.  Should it be a utility?  Should the Internet be free?  Should large cable, media or cell phone carriers have the ability to merge and hence, garner no competition for the customer?  Finally, does the FCC have a responsibility to every American to ensure that the Internet is accessible and fast for all?  These questions will be answered in this essay.

What is Net Neutrality?  It is a “network design paradigm that argues for broadband network providers to be completely detached from what information is sent over their networks.”
(UC Berkeley) Basically, no web traffic, hits or any type of information should take precedence over another.  In fact, the ACLU states that the danger of not allowing a “free” Internet is that companies “can’t play favorites because they disagree with the message being delivered or want to charge more money for faster delivery.”  (American Civil Liberties Union)

If in fact that there is such a concern that the Internet will be pieced apart by companies and be allowed to charge higher fees for more traffic, then why doesn’t the U.S. government make it a utility?  Actually the F.C.C. (Federal Communications Commission) actually can make the Internet a utility.  In fact, it has the absolute power to just that.  Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia University states that for years “consumers have been waiting for serious competition to arrive, yet there is now less competition than ever.” (Wu and Szoka) Wu goes on to further state that “classifying broadband as a ‘common carrier’ under the 1934 Telecommunication Act would allow the FCC to use the full extent of its authority to prevent broadband providers from extracting tolls that damage the broader economy.”

In the past ten years, providers such as AT&T, Comcast, Verizon Wireless and Telus have tried and been successful in “interfering with the Internet.” (American Civil Liberties Union)  AT&T blocked Eddie Vedder, of the band Pearl Jam from singing “leave this world alone” by pulling the sound plug. (American Civil Liberties Union) Comcast was accused of throttling “online file sharing” through torrents  (American Civil Liberties Union) and the list goes on and on.  In fact, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have been lobbying to pass legislation to stop these practices altogether to make a free internet – hence “Net Neutrality.”(Guo)

Regular citizens have been joining the ranks by signing petitions such as Freepress.net to stop the Comcast-Time Warner merger   (freepress.org), or other sites such as savetheinternet.com, fightforthefuture.org, moveon.org have joined the movement as well.  The FCC has been taking comments from the American public at fcc.gov/comments.  At last count, there are 52,930 comments ranging from “free speech should not be bought and sold” to “we want net neutrality.” (FCC.gov) Even Al Franken, U.S. Senator from Minnesota gave an impassioned plea that if this is implemented “mom and pop stores would lose even more ground to corporate giants.  Big media companies will be able to get their version of the news to consumers faster, and would end up paying for it with higher rates.”(Franken) So, with this many Americans responding to this issue, why isn’t this cut and dry?

Enter the FCC Chairman, Thomas Wheeler.  He was confirmed in October 2013 as the new head of the FCC.  Wheeler was the “managing director at Core Capital Partners” and had been a “top lobbyist for the wireless and cable industries.”   (Snider) From “1979 to 1984, Wheeler was the president of the National Cable Television Association and a CEO of Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association.”  (Snider)  There has been concerned that Wheeler has had the interests of the cell and Internet provider companies more at heart than the average American citizen.

Case in point is the pending merger of Comcast-Time Warner.  As Tim Wu stated earlier that “consumers have been waiting for competition to arrive”  (Wu and Szoka) and clearly it has not.  The pending merger of Comcast-Time Warner has the tell-tale signs of a Monopoly.  What is the true definition of a Monopoly?  “A monopoly is free to set any price it chooses and will usually set the price that yields the largest possible profit.”    (Stigler)  Monopolies stiffen competition, driving other smaller competitors right out of the market.  Concerns about monopolies date back to the creation of the Sherman Act in the Progressive Era.  “The concern in the Progressive Era with protecting consumer welfare called for prohibitions on predatory business tactics and on horizontal mergers aimed at creating monopolies and cartels.”  (Calabresi and Leibowitz)

What does the merger offer the each company?  The tab to pick up Time Warner is $42.5 billion.  Comcast would have “30 million U.S. homes; 30% of all of the cable households and 40% of the high-speed Internet market.” (Macke)  Of course, Comcast states that as a result that it would be “faster internet speeds and more reliable service.” (Macke) However that was not the case earlier this week when Ryan Block, head of Product at AOL called Comcast to cancel his service.  It was a relentless call to customer retention that wound up becoming viral on the Internet. (Hu)  It further showed that maybe becoming too big could become a problem for all individuals who use the Internet service provider.

Thomas Wheeler, head of the F.C.C. touts “not so fast” on his blog recently.  (Gustin) Wheeler states that he intends to “prohibit companies from blocking or degrading Internet services until 2018.”(Gustin) He further states that the “Internet will remain like it is today, an open pathway.” However, there is the proposal that would allow some companies “preferential treatment” such as Netflix but it would be on a “case-by-case” basis. (Gustin)  Remember that Netflix made a deal with Comcast and Verizon regarding bandwidth usage and that is not “covered by the new rules.” (Gustin)

Another individual who believes that the FCC is doing the right thing is Berin Szoka who is the President of TechFreedom, a think tank in Washington D.C.  He states that more federal regulations and placing the Internet as a utility is futile based on how Washington D.C. operates.  He believes that the FCC should allow “phone companies transition to Internet protocol-based networks” which could save “billions of dollars” to make a “second pipe faster.”  (Wu and Szoka) He believes turning the utility into a utility would freeze competition and make the process “slow and messy.”   (Wu and Szoka)  Interestingly, he does support antitrust and consumer protection laws and believes “that’s a better model for regulation.”   (Wu and Szoka)

What is clear is that most individuals want a free Internet and there are good points to consider on each side of the issue.  What is paramount is that all Americans and individuals throughout the world have access to the Internet in order to communicate, consume and learn.  Whether the Internet will become a utility or not is yet to be seen and it is unclear what the ramifications will be if the Comcast-Time Warner merger is approved.  Hopefully when the F.C.C. makes their decision about “Net Neutrality” soon that decisions are made that benefit the masses fairly and equally.

Works Cited

 BIBLIOGRAPHY American Civil Liberties Union. What is Net Neutrality? 19 July 2014. Website : https://www.aclu.org/net-neutrality. 19 July 2014.

Calabresi, S.G. and L.C. Leibowitz. “Monopolies and the Constitution: A History of Crony Capitalism.” The Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy Studies (2012): 989-1073. Journal.

FCC.gov. Open Internet. 19 July 2014. Website: fcc.gov/comments.

Franken, A. U.S. Senator. Net Neutrality: The Free Speech Issue of Our Time. 6 May 2014. YouTube – .

freepress.org. Join the Fight o Stop the Comcast-Time Warner Merger. 19 July 2014. Website: http://www.freepress.net/resource/105883/join-fight-stop-comcast-time-warner-cable-merger. 19 July 2014.

Guo, H, Bandyopadhay, S, et al. “Net Neutrality and Vertical Integration of Content and Broadband Services .” Journal of Management Information Systems Vol 27, No 2. (Fall 2010 ): 243-275. Journal.

Gustin, S. “FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Hits Back at “Net Neutrality” Critics.” 2 May 2014. Time.com. Website . 19 July 2014.

Hu, Elise. Don’t Fire The Comcast Guy, Says Caller Who Tried To Cancel. 16 July 2014. <http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2014/07/16/332010645/dont-fire-the-comcast-guy-says-caller-who-tried-to-cancel&gt;.

Macke, J. Comcast Time Warner Merger would create customer service nightmare. 16 July 2014. Website: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/comcast—time-warner-merger-would-create-customer-service-nightmare-122949247.html. 19 July 2014 .

Snider, M. Wheeler confirmed as head of FCC . 29 October 2013. Website: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2013/10/29/tom-wheeler-confirmed-fcc-chairman/3309333/. 19 July 2014.

Stigler, G.J. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: Monopoly 2nd Edition. n.d. Website : http://www.econlib.org/library/Enc/Monopoly.html. 19 July 2014.

UC Berkeley. Network Neutrality. n.d. Website: http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~raylin/whatisnetneutrality.htm. 19 July 2014.

Wu, T and B. Szoka. Should the U.S. Regulate Broadband Internet Access as a Utility? . 11 May 2014. Website: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303939404579532054229366092. 19 July 2014.

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