Sunday, February 4, 2018

Are Filipino Facebook Content Moderators Compromised?

Rumors are abound online, but are Filipino Facebook content moderators actually bribed to remove content critical to Vladimir Putin, the Beijing Communist Party and Pres. Rodrigo Duterte from Facebook?

By: Ringo Bones 

I first heard it back in Friday, February 2, 2018 that a whistleblower had acquired proof that Filipino Facebook content moderators had been receiving bribes from various entities to advance their respective political ends by removing Facebook posts critical of them. Even though someone from the BBC had taken the story seriously but is still awaiting verification on the authenticity of the material – which means it could be a big story two weeks from now. But is there any truth to the story that Filipino Facebook content moderators are taking bribes? 

Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook started to hire additional personnel in the form of “content moderators” back in 2014 to control the tide of “propaganda posts” by the so-called Islamic State that showcased beheadings of western NGOs, charity workers and journalists caught up in their violent and bloody empire building in the wake of the Syrian civil war. It is not just “gruesome beheadings” that these so-called moderators block from being posted on Facebook. These also include inappropriate posts of pornographic nature – i.e. the so-called “dick pics” and their ilk. But since the so-called Islamic State is now in the wan, many of this so-called “Facebook Content Moderators” have branched out to do other tasks - sadly, they have the power to declare whichever of your posts is “spam” at their own discretion if they are not caught by their superiors.

Filipino Facebook Content Moderators are typically paid around 24,000 pesos a month – around 376 UK pounds (quid) or a little over 500 US dollars – which is twice that the typical salary of a public school teacher here in the Philippines. Rumors started to circulate around the middle of last year after one of the moderators who is actually working for Amnesty International infiltrated the center after it was found out that there are Filipino Facebook content moderators who are paid by the Kremlin with up to 10,000 US dollars if they block video posts on Facebook that are taken by Amnesty International operatives in Syria that show Russian troops and planes loyal to Bashar Al Assad committing war crimes. 

American and European non-government organizations and charity groups critical of the current Philippine president who recently compared himself to Adolf Hitler – i.e. Rodrigo Duterte – on his handling of the Philippines’ so-called drug problem got their Facebook pages either blocked or made “unvisitable” in the Philippines. Should there be an ethics committee serving as an oversight on Filipino Facebook Content Moderators?

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Does U.S. First Lady Melania Trump Have a Body Double?

Despite fizzling out after over 100,000 retweets, does the conspiracy theory that U.S. First Lady Melania Trump has a body double really hold water?

By: Ringo Bones

Although the conspiracy theory that deranged gunman John Hinckley, Jr. managed to successfully assassinate then U.S. President Ronald Reagan back in March 30, 1981 and was replaced by a body double had lasted far longer than this, but when it first came out, the rumor that U.S. First Lady Melania Trump has a body double managed to gain an aura of truthiness that many had actually believed it. But true or not, what are the advantages of having a body double of the current U.S. First Lady that is virtually indistinguishable from the real one?

Given that the “real” Melania Trump is not a native American English speaker, a body double with a better command of the language while being able to fake a convincing Monrovian accent offers a huge advantage during important political functions. Given that women that looked like the current U.S. First Lady are not that difficult to find, I’m probably not the only one that Melania Trump really has an actual body double – only the on duty U.S. Secret Service detail know for sure. The “alternate” First Lady probably betrays herself when her interaction with President Trump is less than awkward.  

Monday, May 16, 2016

Will Hillary Clinton Reveal Secret UFO Files If Elected?

While the story has been around since the beginning of 2016, will Hillary Clinton reveal secret UFO files once elected to the White House? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Since the end of World War II, there has long been an air of conspiracy surrounding theories of alien / extraterrestrial life, and back in April 8, 2016, the head of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign – John Podesta said it’s time to do away with the secrecy. While appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Clinton herself pledged to “get to the bottom” of whether rumors of US contact with extraterrestrial life were true. 

Ever since the Roswell Incident of 1947, the US government having established secret contact with extraterrestrial life and/or having access to their advanced technology have become an ever growing urban legend that have fueled many a science fiction narrative that’s still going strong until this very day. But it was probably during the Bill Clinton presidency of the 1990s that conspiracy theorists of every persuasion got convinced that there might be something to this Area 51 / Majestic 12 brouhaha – not just because the runaway success of Chris Carter’s The X-Files TV series or Independence Day and Men In Black movies but also that 1995 era “official revelation” that the “Roswell UFO Crash” was actually a secret US government program called Project Mogul which is all about balloon-born sensors to listen for secret Soviet era clandestine nuclear weapons testing. Given the Clinton Administration era subterfuge, why is it that US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton’s promise to reveal secret UFO files will be different this time? 

Unbeknown to most conspiracy buffs, it was during the first term of Bill Clinton’s presidency – back when Hillary Clinton was still the First Lady – that the Clinton administration managed to do the near impossible – i.e. managed to get an “environmental audit” of Area 51 – the famed top secret U.S. Air Force Groom Lake, Nevada facility rumored to house crashed remains of advanced extraterrestrial craft secured by the US government since the Roswell Incident of 1947. Thanks to this move by then US President Bill Clinton the top brass of Area 51 finally stopped using ozone depleting chemicals in the maintenance of their planes and other assets in favor of more ozone friendly options by the mid 1990s. If her husband managed to do that, then there’s a fighting chance that Hillary Clinton’s UFO revelations might be more substantial to their mid 1990s era counterparts – unless of course if you prefer Donald Trump style revelations of pulling stuff out of his own ass. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Russian Metrojet Flight 9268 Crash: Another Post 9/11 Geopolitical Game Changer?

Given that this means another draconian ratcheting up of airport security, does the October 31, 2015 Metrojet Flight 9268 crash become another post 9/11 geopolitical game changer? 

By: Ringo Bones 

The incident is not only tragic, but also conspiracy theory laden as well. Before the European investigators point to the cause of the crash with 99-percent certainty as a smuggled explosive device based on the recovered flight data recorders / black boxes, Russian publications loyal to the strongman Vladimir Putin already published articles pointing the blame on MI-5, CIA agents and even a handful of Ukrainians currently fighting for Islamic State / Daesh, and this was a few hours before Islamic State / Daesh claimed responsibility for successfully smuggling an explosive device onboard Metrojet Flight 9268. But will this tragic incident change the geopolitical tempo on how Vladimir Putin’s Russia deals with Islamic State / Daesh Syrian home-base? 

The aircraft was an Airbus A321-231 operated by the Russian airline company Kogalymavia – branded as Metrojet to non native Russian speakers that exploded in mid air over northern Sinai back in October 31, 2015 was carrying 217 passengers and 7 crew members. A majority of them were Russian and the flight was en route from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg. Russian conspiracy theorists loyal to Vladimir Putin were quick to point the blame at Russia’s “Western enemies” as a supposed payback for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 that was “allegedly” shot down by a BUK surface-to-air missile last year by Russian loyalists over the contested Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. 

Stranger still, before the flight data recorders / black boxes were recovered by investigators, a Pentagon reconnaissance satellite that was scheduled to overfly the Sinai region managed to “see” the midair explosion of the Metrojet Flight 9268 in real time but was shelved by the analysts who were manning the satellite at the time because they thought that it could just be a car-sized meteorite exploding high over the northern Sinai region. Whatever the powers-that-be decide to do with the facts currently on the table with regards to the tragic crash of Metrojet Flight 9268, it would still be us civilians who will bear the brunt of increased and very intrusive airport security checks.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

A Hagiographical Conspiracy Against General Inocencio Junquera?

Even though he is famed for being the first “liberal” governor general of Cebu, Is General Inocencio Junquera a victim of his own “hagiography”? 

By: Ringo Bones

Given that his name is now synonymous with the Red Light District of a street named after him, General Inocencio Junquera who served as a civil and political governor of Cebu, Philippines from 1893 to 1895 was used to be famed for establishing the first cultural live theatre house in Cebu during his tenure. As a patron of the arts, General Junquera single-handedly uplifted the cultural landscape of Cebu by establishing a venue for the local talented dramaturges to perform their craft. Sadly, in the recent post Colonial environment of Cebu near the end of the 19th Century, the still pro Spanish Inquisition Catholic Priests of the time (and even now) are still miserly of praise and even vehemently critical of the achievements of General Inocencio Junquera during his tenure as post Colonial governor general of Cebu.   

Largely because General Junquera was staunchly for the separation of Church and state – especially at the time where there was a large “Protestant Swedish Diaspora” in Cebu at the time. Unfortunately, the protests by the pro Spanish friars at the time outlasted Junquera’s “cultural legacy” and accusations of General Junquera turning a blind eye on the growing prostitution in Cebu got him compared to U.S. Civil War era General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker because, like General Hooker, General Junquera’s post theatrical performance parties are usually frequented by Cebu’s high-end prostitutes at the time. Maybe it was just a coincidence that the plays staged by Gen. Junquera before the time of movie theatres are often frequented by affluent, heterosexual gentlemen?    
Was General Inocencio Junquera just a victim of his own hagiography given that the street named after him is now synonymous with Cebu City’s Red Light District? Maybe, but I do find it a bit disconcerting that it is only in Wikipedia that his “cultural legacy” can be found and Cebu’s “oral history” got him compared to the “pimp U.S. Civil War General” General Joseph “Fighting Joe” Hooker. Maybe the powers-that-be in the Cebu City Hall should consider rebuilding his “Teatro Junquera” as a venue for Cebu’s live theatre dramaturges.    

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Did Elvis Presley Made Secret Espionage Missions During the Cold War?

Col. Tom Parker’s request for a “draft deferment” may be a clue, but did the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” did espionage work for the US government during the Cold War? 

By: Ringo Bones 

If Elvis Presley did actual espionage work in behalf of the US government during the Cold War, it may have likely happened during his U.S. Army conscriptions days while being assingned as a Jeep mechanic in Freiburg of what was then West Germany. Given the easy acces to the Sudetenland – which was then largely under the control of the then Soviet Union, Elvis Presley could have easily performed top secret espionage work given his “celebrity status” at the time. But is there any proof to this? 

Given that Hollywood has been very cooperative with the US government ever since it set up the business of movie-making, it may have been likely that the Hollywood movie industry made “disinformation films” about Elvis Presley’s “secret spywork in the then communist era Sudetenland”. The 1984 movie Top Secret may have been just a spoof of every Elvis musical with US DoD cooperation ever made - i.e. Elvis' G.I. Blues - but it did its job of making the idea of “Elvis in the Sudetenland” spying for the US government to gather vital Cold War era intel somewhat improbable in the eyes of the 1960s era KGB. 

Hollywood also has a very good track record of providing cover for US government sanctioned espionage work that might have been uncovered by your typical spook. The 2012 movie Argo that stars Ben Affleck on the secret mission done by then CIA master-of-disguise Tony Mendez shows details of how the US government rescued the US Embassy personnel in Iran that were trapped during the 1979 Iranian Islamic Revolution that was only declassified back in 1998 in time for the then US President Bill Clinton to give commendations to Tony Mendez and the Canadian embassy personnel in Iran at that time who helped. It may have been very likely that we may be seeing an “Elvis in the Sudetenland” movie once the US government declassifies the details for the general public to see.