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Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Our job as educators is not to create a surveillance environment that teaches students how to better lie, but to foster critical thinking and civic responsibility.  – Zeynep Tufekci

License to Rape

Police states define the bodies of all citizens as “crime scenes” which can be violated by “authorities” at will:

Christopher McCormack is one of the New York Police Department’s highest-ranking officers…his ascension started three decades earlier…and [all]…along the way, police leaders were privy to an ever-growing list of complaints against McCormack…[most] of [which] were hidden from public view…What stands out…is how often Black and Latino men accused him of [molesting them under he pretext of] invasive, humiliating searches…he pulled down their pants in public, exposing their genitals…[and] used his fingers to [rape] their anal cavities [under the pretext of “searching for drugs”]…McCormack is just one of dozens of high-ranking NYPD officers who have risen [thank to egregious] misconduct in their records.  Eighty-six of the roughly 420 [cops]…who currently hold a rank above captain…have tallied at least one misconduct allegation that was substantiated by the [cops themselves], meaning that [the behavior was too blatant to hide as per standard procedure]…the…substantiated complaints are dwarfed by a far larger list of those that are “unsubstantiated,” meaning [cops were able to pretend they didn’t]…happen…

Scapegoats (#438)

I reckon someone else noticed Arpaio’s obsession with this topic:

…For $30.99, users of Cameo — an app where singers, actors and other public figures record custom video messages for a fee — can request a personalized clip of [disgraced politician Joe Arpaio] saying whatever they want…Most of Arpaio’s Cameo videos appear to be standard fare, such as birthday greetings, thank-you messages, congratulatory comments.  But one…[last week] raised eyebrows. “Hey, good luck organizing the Arizona Furry convention,” Arpaio begins, though he pronounces it “Fury,” suggesting he’s not totally certain…he’s been asked to talk about…Arizona Fur Con, an annual event [for] members of the furry community…the…person who ordered the video [goes by]…Sir Yiffs A Lot.  “Yiff” refers to furry-related sexual content or activity, which made Arpaio’s sign-off all the more cringeworthy…”I’m kind of partial to dogs,” he says after a pause, as if responding to a question included in the video request. “But I love all animals. Thanks”…

Devil’s Advocate (#944) 

Florida politicians are obsessed with child-shaped toasters:

[A pervert politician from Florida] filed legislation in Congress to ban [small] sex dolls [fashioned to resemble children] nationwide…[per-Vern Buchanan] said he will reintroduce the [moronically-named] CREEPER Act…which died in the Senate [in 2018]…Buchanan said he felt the [urge] to reintroduce the legislation after [some creep had a masturbatory fantasy] that a…sex doll was being sold on the Internet…was [somehow] modeled off of a girl in Miami [even though the same model has been sold for years before the girl reached the size and age depicted by the doll]…Florida passed a similar…ban in 2019…[making it] one of only three states, along with Kentucky and Tennessee that has specifically banned [plastic toys made to resemble children]…

Welcome to the Future (#1010)

What “predictive policing” actually looks like on the ground:

Pasco County [Florida] Sheriff Chris Nocco took office in 2011 with a…plan…to create a…system to continuously monitor and harass…residents…the Sheriff’s Office generates lists of people it c[laims are] likely to break the law, based on arrest histories, un[founded allegations] and arbitrary decisions by [cops]…Then it sends deputies to find and [harass] anyone whose name appears, often without probable cause, a search warrant or evidence of a specific crime.  They swarm homes in the middle of the night, waking families and embarrassing people in front of their neighbors.  They write tickets for missing mailbox numbers and overgrown grass, saddling residents with court dates and fines.  They come again and again, making arrests for any reason they can.  One former deputy described the directive like this: “Make their lives miserable until they move or sue.”  In just five years, Nocco’s signature program has ensnared almost 1,000 people…

I Spy (#1010)

The pandemic has been a very useful excuse for expanding the police state:

[Using the excuse of] the pandemic, many universities and colleges around the country are forcing students to download location-tracking apps, sometimes as a condition of enrollment…When students enter a classroom, their phone informs a sensor that’s been installed in the room, or the app checks the Wi-Fi networks nearby to determine the phone’s location.  As a university professor, I’ve seen surveillance like this before.  Many of these apps replicate the tracking system sometimes installed on the phones of student athletes, for whom it is often mandatory.  That system tells us a lot about what we can expect with these apps…Knowing that they are being tracked, some students will no doubt let their phone “sleep” peacefully in their bed while they party elsewhere.  If a few get sick, they may hide it, for fear of having their tech trickery found out…Excessive surveillance often backfires in this way…And broad surveillance can engender a chilling effect among the whole populace…

You Were Warned (#1045)

Exactly the same thing the Democrats want, but please tell me more about the “wings”:

A group of…Republican…[politician]s introduced a new bill…aimed at chipping away some of the protections provided to social media companies through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.  The [misnamed] Online Freedom and Viewpoint Diversity Act…would strip away the liability protection provided by Section 230 if a platform restricted access to content without providing specific rules that it violated…[after] Trump[‘s]…executive order [doing much the same thing was shown to be impotent, bootlicking politicians] started introducing their own legislation to amend the law…

Finding What Isn’t There (#1070)

This time they didn’t even try to wedge their scam into the “sex trafficking” narrative:

Eight [legal minors] were [taken into custody] in a five-day r[aid series] in the Indianapolis area and one person was arrested on charges including parental kidnapping…The U.S. Marshals [are] now [calling all of the apprehensions in three states “]rescue[” even though few if any of the subjects were in any danger; they are also calling all of the 72 subjects “]missing children[” even though most were not actually children and few were actually “missing” in the usual sense of the term]…The [subjects] are between 6 to 17 years old…and [some may have been arrested by the cops under guise of “rescue”, since the pigrelease claims they were all]…turned over to the Indiana Department of Child Services…and…no further details about the [subjects] or the circumstances were released…the U.S. Marshals Service [also pretended] it found 39 missing children in Georgia…[and] 25…in Ohio…[though no factual details were available in that case, either]…

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[Kamala] Harris is basically a QAnon cheerleader for people who fancy themselves too sophisticated for that crap.  –  Elizabeth Nolan Brown

A Moral Cancer (#790)

Crypto-moralists always pretend their lust to ban things is about “health” or “safety”:

Critics are lining up to blast a report, issued by [the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory] Committee earlier this summer, that urges the government to make steep cuts to the definition of moderate alcohol consumption…DGAC…policies include everything from recommending how many servings of vegetables people should consume in a day to determining what foods to serve to troops, schoolchildren, and prisoners…The report seeks to halve the DGAC’s longstanding definition of moderate drinking for men—no more than two drinks per day—to no more than one drink per day.  (The recommendation for women, set for years at no more than one drink per day, remains unchanged)…five Harvard Medical School faculty doctors—including three who served on one or more prior iterations of the DGAC…argue the…slash…is a “limited, arbitrary, and unsystematic treatment of alcohol consumption” that is based on “limited, arbitrary, and unsystematic evidence”…the DGAC appears to have “ignored” three decades of research…in…[order] to support claims made by members of the DGAC prior to appointment…In other words…anti-alcohol DGAC members focused only on research that supports arguments those members wanted to make all along…

Comfort Zone (#839)

Sometimes the attempt to hide migration control behind the “trafficking” narrative is especially apparent:

A spike in migrants moving north through Panama has [cops fantsizing] the country will become an international center for human trafficking.  Last year, nearly 22,000 migrants from Haiti, Cuba and a number of African and Asian countries were [arrested] after crossing the perilous Darién jungle along the Panama-Colombia border…The journey of a migrant…isn’t cheap or easy.  Migrants usually learn of the method from friends or family members who made the trip before them, or find instructions posted online…Often, migrants pay for smuggling through what analysts call “sponsors,” usually family members or friends already in the United States…

Down Under (#890)

Swedish model regimes would’ve instead targeted the victim for surveillance:

Michael Donald Grout attempted to blackmail…a…sex [worker], then followed through on his threat and [out]ed her [to her parents]…he…was sentenced in…Palmerston North [New Zealand]…to four months’ home detention…The victim was 18 at the time, more than 40 years Grout’s junior…Grout [claimed in court that he] became fearful for his own health after reading…an…advertisement that said the woman provided unprotected sex.  This was confirmed through an interaction with another of her clients…[but rather than distancing himself from her to protect his supposedly-compromised immune system] he obtained nude photographs of the woman and…[demanded she submit to rape or] he would send the photos to her parents…she…then…blocked the [anonymous] account [from which he was sending the threats, and he retaliated by sending]…a courier package [which] arrived at the home of [her] parents [on December 19]…her mother opened it and found several naked photos of her daughter.  Attached was a note wishing the couple a Merry Christmas and happy New Year.  “You must be proud of her,” Grout wrote…

Disaster (#1009)

The FOSTA challenge is proceeding again:

The Woodhull Freedom Foundation is suing (again) to get FOSTA ruled unconstitutional…[on the grounds that it] violates the First and Fifth Amendments…Woodhull’s motion for summary judgment…also takes aim at the law’s retroactive scope—FOSTA says you can be punished for violating it even before the law went into effect [even though such laws are prohibited in Article I of the Constitution]…

The Course of a Disease (#1020)

Maltese prohibitionists are strikingly loony, even for prohibitionists:

Malta’s Prostitution Reform Technical Committee excludes [prohibitionists] who [persecute and infantilize] sex workers, [prohibitionists] w[hi]ned….“Nordic model” [fanatics are upset that]…the state [is instead considering]…decriminalisation…[the prohibitionists vomited idiocy about “]sex hub tourism[” (whatever that is supposed to mean)] and “European Thailand”…[and also] called for [persecution of] strip clubs,  a…police [rape gang, and forcible “conversion therapy”]…for…victims of [the police]…

Pyrrhic Victory (#1040)

I only hope this turns out to be true:

Ongoing tests of facial recognition technology continue to show that the technology is baffled when people wear masks of the sort that have become widespread (and even mandatory) in some places during the current pandemic. Forty-one newly tested algorithms—some of which were designed to compensate for face coverings—show the same dramatically elevated error rates as those examined earlier.  The tests have important implications for privacy at a time…of political instability and growing concern over law enforcement excesses, when people may have a strong interest in making identification of opponents and protesters difficult for the powers-that-be…

A Broker in Pillage (#1068)

A good argument for refusing to roll over and let yourself be robbed:

What happens when innocent people stand up to government bullies who use civil forfeiture laws to steal their property?  In many cases, the bullies, unaccustomed to such resistance, fold like a cheap suit…the government returned Kevin McBride’s Jeep, which…the Pima County Attorney’s Office was demanding a $1,900 ransom for the safe return of…But the day after the Goldwater Institute threatened to sue on McBride’s behalf…prosecutors changed their tune…

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Exodus Cry[‘s]…history of hateful rhetoric toward women and…those who don’t abide by their vision of purity…is extremely disturbing.  –  Pornhub

Follow Your Bliss

A typical and representative “law enforcement hero”:

Christopher Bryant…of Ruidoso, New Mexico [was arrested]…on charges of transportation of child pornography…[because] he…[searched for] child pornography on the internet and took screenshots of three [porn] images of children…[then] sent the images to himself by email.  Bryant was recognized in 2019 as a “Law Enforcement Hero of Child Protection” by a state agency…

Cops and Robbers (#910) 

The rescue industry provides many opportunities for wealthy white folks to play cowboy:

Over the past few years, Marisol Nichols has been juggling the demands of being an [television] act[ress]…with a side gig as a…[scam artist making money from hysteria over] sex trafficking.  The latter is now being turned into a television series after Sony Pictures Television optioned rights to her story…She has been [lying to people targeted by] the FBI, [sociopathic fascists] Operation Underground Railroad and [common pigs] to serve as the “bait” for sting operations domestically and internationally…Nichols…has participated in numerous [examples of cop glorification propaganda]…such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Law & Order: SVU, more than once playing a cop…she began to work in the [rescue industry] after her career slowed down around 2012…

She’s not really a pig, but she played one on TV.  And in life-destroying scams.

Unsafe for Human Consumption (#972)

Unsurprising for entities in the disinformation business:

Fentanyl…has taken on mythical properties [among cops.  Many]…have claimed to have nearly died from accidental exposure, based on the scientifically inaccurate idea that a deadly amount of fentanyl can pass through human skin or even poison the air around it.  That myth has spread through…fusion centers…[which] have circulated fentanyl myths, causing [cops] to panic [like little girls]…Out of 121 fentanyl-related bulletins in the BlueLeaks trove reviewed by Reason, at least 36 claimed that fentanyl could be absorbed through the skin and at least 41 discussed the alleged danger of airborne fentanyl…

It’s nice to see them harming each others’ mental health for a change.

You Were Warned (#976)

So far, the vultures are being shot down, but they’ll continue to harass businesses until FOSTA is overturned:

[An ambulance-chaser] sued [the messaging app] Kik [in hopes of getting a lot of loot courtesy of]…FOSTA…[which] Congress enacted…to [encourage exactly this kind of nuisance] lawsuit…against Internet services.  The question is exactly what FOSTA did–a difficult question to answer because of FOSTA’s terrible drafting.  Court opinions trying to navigate the FOSTA/Section 230 interplay are extremely complex and technical in nature, and thus hard to understand…The plaintiff trie[d] to show that Kik violated [the law by]…“participat[ing] in a venture” with [imaginary] sex traffickers…The court grant[ed] Kik’s motion to dismiss…[because] the facts don’t seem to indicate any actual or attempted sex trafficking…Perhaps the court might have approached the opinion differently if the[re had actually been any behavior remotely resembling] sex trafficking…

Panopticon (#993)

Is it just me, or does this sound like an attempt at reverse psychology?

[FBI] documents warned that owners of Amazon’s Ring and similar video doorbells can use the systems…to watch police..leak[ed documents]…describe…numerous ways police and the FBI could use Ring surveillance footage, but it also cites “new challenges” involving sensor- and camera-equipped smart home devices….[which] can offer an early warning when [pigs] are approaching a house to [root around, destroy it, or brutalize and murder]…the owner…[In actuality,] this isn’t [an]y more information than a security camera would capture…and…Ring…[collaborates] with hundreds of [cop shops]…to hand over footage [without the owners’ permission]…

The Pro-Rape Coalition (#1023) 

Anti-sex profiteers never tell their marks that the 1st amendment isn’t subject to veto by busybodies clicking on an internet petition:

Laila Mickelwait’s…”TraffickingHub” campaign to [censor] Pornhub…has nearly two million signatures…There are many legitimate reasons for revenge porn victims and adult content owners to be critical of Pornhub…But what people who sign the TraffickingHub petition might not understand is that the campaign…comes from the world of anti sex [work] activism—and specifically, from a large Christian organization, Exodus Cry, which…[promotes police violence against] sex work[ers] and wants to abolish porn altogether…it…[also] has a history of homophobia and bigotry, and…peddl[es] a victim narrative to “save” sex workers while harming them with pushes for [pro-rape] legislation…

Losing Their Shit

The reek from the dying rescue industry is now wafting over from Europe:

…the European Freedom Network (EFN) [is a conspiracy between] 250 [evangelical] groups that [harass and persecute sex workers]…Leanne Rhodes…who lives in Portugal, is the Executive Director of the EFN…[and provides exampls of how “sex trafficking” propaganda] has changed substantially after the Covid-19 crisis…“organisations could no longer [harass sex workers in person, so] they lost [track of easy targets]…a lot of our partners have [invented new masturbbatory fantasies about]pimps…dump[ing “victims”]…mafias have moved from street prostitution to online prostitution. There is a massive increase in video sex, chat rooms…pornography and so on, all over the place and very early on as lockdowns started…you can sell people over the internet over and over…

Except for the new “pimps dumping slaves” trope, this is the same filth they’ve been peddling for over a decade.  Did they think nobody would notice?

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I exonerated tons of cases that involved awful conduct.  –  Dan Bodah

Here’s a funny look at something I’ve been pointing out for decades now, provided by Marc Randazza; the links above the video were supplied by Amy Alkon, Thaddeus Russell, Franklin Harris and Jesse Walker, Walter Olson, and Jesse Walker again, in that order.

From the Archives

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She’s an adult as much as any fictional slime insect bug monster can be.  –  Slugbox

The Prudish Giant (#853)

Once Patreon started following in the footsteps of Facebook, this was inevitable:

Whether by choice or force, Patreon’s NSFW creators are increasingly ditching the site over its 18+ rules.  The latest casualties include a gay hypnosis erotica site and an adult anime artist [over whom] Patreon tried to “exercise a scary amount of financial and public control.”  On July 15, Gay Spiral Stories owner Martin announced that the site would no longer be available for funding on Patreon…when…Patreon [demanded he]…remove…fictional, fantastical stories around mind control…Patreon was attempting to control what content Gay Spiral Stories could host off-site, regardless of Gay Spiral Stories’ Patreon presence…Patreon is [also] increasingly forcing adult artists to surrender their portfolios to the site’s control.  In June, adult anime artist Slugbox…decided to leave Patreon for good…[because] under the site’s contemporary terms of service…“‘Slugbox’ becomes a ‘project’ that belongs to Patreon…[which can] dictate where Slugbox can operate, where Slugbox can make money, and how [Slugbox can] make money, and then hold my success here as a hostage”…

Neither Addiction Nor Epidemic (#855)

Blaming bad behavior on an imaginary “addiction” is the opposite of accepting responsibility:

A former west Kentucky teacher and track coach, Mark Boggess was sentenced to ten years in prison…for setting up a video recording device in the bathroom of the nurse’s station in the high school…[so he c]ould…watch people change in and out of clothes…The defense claimed Boggess has a porn addiction…

Lack of Evidence (#945) 

Alas, these lawsuits usually end in “settlements” that simply force cops to find a different excuse for harassing women:

A woman is suing San Jose police in federal court…[after] she was targeted, arrested, and jailed because [cops claimed]…transgender [women are all]…sex worker[s]…She is being represented by Bruce Nickerson, a prominent LGBTQ-rights attorney who is pursuing class-action status for the suit…Nickerson successfully sued San Jose police over undercover decoy stings…that…unlawfully targeted gay men…San Jose police declined to comment on the lawsuit…But [claimed stalking and harassing people for supposed bad thoughts was really FOR THE CHILDREN™!!!]…and [that]…street prostitution [magically attracts unspecified but scary]…harmful activity…from…other cities

Pyrrhic Victory (#985) 

Another (very) slight setback for universal facial recognition in the US:

Over about eight years, the American drugstore chain Rite Aid Corp quietly added facial recognition systems to 200 stores across the United States…in largely lower-income, non-white neighborhoods…after Reuters sent…findings [from its investigation] to the retailer, Rite Aid [claimed] it had quit using its facial recognition software….[and] all the cameras had been turned off…Rite Aid [also claimed]…that customers had been apprised of the technology through “signage”…[but] reporters found no notice of the surveillance in more than a third of the stores…with the facial recognition cameras…and [further claimed]…the rollout was…based on stores’ theft histories, local and national crime data and site infrastructure…Among the systems used…was one from DeepCam LLC, which…[is lin]ked with a firm in China whose largest…investor is [the] Chinese government…The Home Depot Inc said it had been testing facial recognition to reduce shoplifting in at least one of its stores but stopped the trial this year…Walmart…has also tried out facial recognition in a handful of stores…

You Were Warned (#1031)

Torture Chamber (#1041)

No human is truly free while governments claim the “right” to lock people in filthy, disease-ridden cages:

…conditions at the Indiana Women’s Prison are being [recognized as] “inhumane” by some [politicians.  Chief screws deny it, but a whistleblower sided with prisoners in telling the truth.  Bureaucrats claim that prisoners]…can go to the restroom every 30 minutes and are allowed to leave their cell every two hours to roam the common areas.  [But in reality the women are locked in cages and told to “stop faking” if they need to use the toilet]…Before the pandemic, the [screws] would keep the cell doors open so [prisoners] could go into the common areas and the air would easily flow through the facility.  However, the[y now use the pandemic as an excuse to keep]…cell doors [locked at all times]…“They are passing out from heat exhaustion as well as experiencing seizures,” said [politician J.D.] Ford…“I have seen vomiting, I have not personally seen seizures, but I frequently see reports of them,” said the…whistleblower…

To Molest and Rape (#1057)

Notice how often rapist cops’ victims are underage?

A San Diego [cop was finally] arrested…on criminal charges of child molestation, pandering and luring a child into a sex act, among other offenses…Jaylen Devon Fleer…is being held without bail…[after being on paid vacation since] May…[other pigs from the same cop shop who have been] charged with sexual misconduct…in recent years [include molester] Richard Fischer…[molester] Timothy Wilson…[rapist] Juan Andrade…[and sexual harasser] Assistant Sheriff Rich Miller…

If you can stomach it, read down to the part where the reporter tries to build up sympathy for a molester by telling us how good he was at playing kids’ games in high school.

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It’s now been a year since I largely abandoned traditional escort advertising sites such as Eros; I still have a few free ads (such as on Tryst), but as I explained in “In the Club“, most of my new clients over the past two years have come from “people who approach me via my blog, Twitter, other writing, my public speaking, TV interviews, etc.”  That column also explained that by the end of this year, I plan to semi-retire, seeing only people I’ve already seen before (and the occasional new client who comes directly recommended by a sex worker I know personally).  By the beginning of this year I’d seen very little change in my income despite five months without regular ads, and though like most sex workers I’ve been hit pretty hard in the bank account by the events of this year, that has only demonstrated to me more clearly that I can survive without a constant flow of new clients.  So I think it’s time to remind y’all that as of January 1st, it’s going to get harder to see me if you haven’t seen me before; I even plan to remove my business phone number from ads.  Regulars won’t see any difference, nor will anyone who has seen me professionally at least once by the end of this year, so if you’re not yet in that exclusive club, but would like to be, you should contact me pretty soon to get screened and arrange a visit.  I understand that some of you may be interested, but aren’t traveling or seeing anyone right now; that’s perfectly fine as long as you’re screened and paid by New Year’s Eve, even if we have to delay our actual meeting (and I do phone call as well, if that helps).  It’s likely I’ll do one more reminder around the beginning of December, but don’t wait until then; even one session now will protect your ability to book an appointment with me until I finally put away my lingerie for good at some point down the road.

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Do you have any idea why some people’s Twitter follower count either stays the same or slowly drops?  Mine used to climb pretty steadily, but lately I’m losing followers even though I’m not doing anything different.

Most internet companies are more subtle than censorship-happy Facebook, which openly and proudly censors posts and bans users using a set of “community standards” so bluenosed they’d make a Puritan swoon.  Google is only slightly less censorious, using secret algorithms to monkey with search results in order to boost its advertisers and “de-weight” any site containing “adult content” (which is why my traffic to this blog from Google is only about 1/6 what it was seven years ago); it also “demonetizes” videos on YouTube (ie, makes them ineligible for moneymaking ads) using similar esoteric criteria.  Twitter, by contrast, likes to represent itself as the most free-speech-friendly of the social media sites, and to a degree that’s no empty pose; it’s the only one left which still allows (some) nudity, frank sexual discussion, and the open presence of sex workers.  But behind the scenes it still has a number of secret mechanisms, most of which it denies the existence of, that are intended to push nasty, dirty, sex into the shadows to make room for nice, fully-clothed bigots.  One of those is the shadowban, a blanket term for a number of occlusions which can be secretly installed by the corporation on the accounts of (mostly but not only) sex workers so as to make their accounts much harder for new readers to find while allowing them to appear normally to those who already follow them:  Twitter used to deny that there was such a thing as a shadowban, but as of January 1st its TOS states that it “reserves the right to limit distribution or visibility of content”, IOW to shadowban users.  But what you’re describing is different.  According to the shadowban checker I linked above, I’m not shadowbanned; yet my follower count, which used to increase by hundreds every month, has now been static for over two years.  I get at least 10-20 new followers every day, yet my count just bobs gently back and forth like a buoy on a calm sea, as though something were draining away followers at the same rate I gained them.  Then since about April, I’ve been slowly losing followers; it’s very gradual, about 220 followers so far, yet I’m still gaining a dozen to a score new followers evey day.  The only thing I can figure is that this is part of their anti-bot campaign; apparently, the site is methodically checking every account over time, and when an account trips some condition that Twitter has decided makes it “suspicious”, that account is either closed entirely or at least “disqualified” as a follower.  I know I’ve had a number of people tell me that Twitter has “unfollowed” me for them without their permission, such that they wondered if I had left the site until they saw someone else retweet me; I suspect a lot of the lost followers are due to a similar process.  But riddle me this:  if it’s an innocent by-product of that kind of routine site cleaning, why are all the people who have noticed it either “adult” or otherwise “controversial”?

(Have a question of your own?  Please consult this page to see if I’ve answered it in a previous column, and if not just click here to ask me via email.)

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I think it’s extremely important that sex workers have resources inside our own community, because far too many companies are happy to use the demimonde to boost their growth, then suddenly become all pious and kick us out when they decide they don’t need us any more.  Regular readers know that I’ve featured sex worker-owned web businesses before, so when I saw Estelle talking about her company online, I invited her to introduce her service to y’all.

Before I tell you about Red Cloud Hosting, let me tell you about me.  I’m a Muslim who’s been a sex worker for 11 years; I predominantly work as a private escort in Melbourne, Australia, but I’ve toured many countries and worked in an agency in Europe.  From the beginning of my career, technology captured my interest and my curiosity led me to investigate its influences and how it can enhance our work.  Sex workers have the right to practical, reliable, dependable and simple technology to build, organise, advertise and work safely online, so four years ago I created Red Files Inc, a digital space that allows sex workers to share resources and information safely and securely.  I created this project as part of my wider sex work activism, and it’s a registered non-profit charity.

Now that you understand my background, it’s obvious why I created Red Cloud Hosting in May 2018, a digital solutions company with a strong focus on sex workers which started as a safe web hosting platform.  As my activism primarily focused on local or national laws in Australia, I didn’t notice the sinister nature of FOSTA/SESTA until it was too late; I also could not have anticipated how pervasive these laws were, and how they threatened sex work advocacy efforts globally.  While any laws or regulations that punish sex workers are horrible in of themselves, this law seemed particularly far-reaching and conniving.  For example, I operate my business in the legalised state of Victoria in Australia, yet American laws continually curtail and hinder my ability to work safely.  So I put my utilitarian mind to work and concocted a solution.  One year after launch, Red Cloud evolved to provide further reliable digital and web solutions for sex workers.  Through the course of my work I found too often workers kicked off web creation platforms, or swindled by self-proclaimed webmasters that overpromise, overcharge, and under-deliver; others are completely boggled by the complicated process of setting up a website for themselves. Red Cloud now offers simple, affordable web and technology solutions for sex workers wanting more personalised, secure and friendly services.

As I believe in self-determination, Red Cloud Hosting focuses on empowering workers to learn how to manage their websites in a clean, simple and supported manner.  If I’m the brains of Red Cloud, then my work colleague and Webmistress Kim Cums is the brawn.  There’s not much you can’t do with a website when you have Kim on your team; she’s a jill of all trades who learned how to set up shop online from the ground up.  Her personal sex working website offer a variety of engagements from videos, images, member signup sections, a forum, mailing lists, sex worker friendly payment processes and more; she launched the sex worker focused Bumbershoot Creative and now offers her technological expertise to others.  While Kim’s skills lay in website creation, I specialise in copywriting and editing.  In my muggle life I’m a writer, and with my experience, I know exactly what content attracts clients.  Much of my work with Red Cloud is writing up new, fresh copy for sex workers, because we all know how cumbersome it can be to write about yourself in a sexy light.  I’m also socially aware of the sex work laws in different countries and can use language to circumvent legal issues.  I have another sex worker colleague, Chelsea who is in charge of SEO Audits.  In her other life she’s an SEO whiz and that’s all I’ll say about the mysterious woman to protect her identity.  She goes over your website with a fine comb and teaches you on how to improve your SEO traffic.  I haven’t been able to showcase much of our work in the area of image editing just yet but my little worker bee Finnley is well-versed in the area and I will be sharing some photos soon.  While the rest of our services don’t have much to do with FOSTA/SESTA, I have found in my two years of running Red Cloud, that most people want everything setup in one spot.  That’s why I added additional services such as Kim’s photography and videography for those in Sydney. When she resumes travelling interstate, I’m sure this will be applicable for the rest of Australia, although I’m sad to say you Americans might miss out until the pandemic fades out.

Our websites come in the form of Packages that are customised for the level of investment a sex worker is wanting to put into their business. They start from $490AUD setup fee, with an ongoing $30 monthly fee for maintenance, security plugins, updates and so on.  All websites are FOSTA/SESTA consequence free. For every Package purchased with Red Cloud, a donation is made to Red Files Inc or to a sex worker organisation of your choice. Red Cloud can now offer sex workers in Australia and internationally:

  • Dedicated and trusted servers for website hosting based in Australia.
  • Hundreds of website templates specifically tailored and curated to appeal to the sex industry.
  • Personalised domain (for example www.myescortwebsite.com).
  • Domain email setup (for example professionalescort@me.com).
  • Complete and customisable website creation and build-up on WordPress.
  • Migration or replication of past website onto Red Cloud.
  • A variety of website packages aimed at sex workers at any stage of their business.
  • Add-ons to provide your website a personal touch such as mailing lists, blog, screening forms or tours page.
  • Content creation, copywriting and editing that suit the legality of your country.
  • General website tweaks and must-have plugin, security and SSL updates.
  • Professional videography for escorts, porn performers and webcam models.
  • Professional photography geared for content creation, escort portfolios, brand building.
  • Professional editing of images including colour correction, blemishes, body modification, lighting, facial blurring, tattoo removal and airbrushing.
  • Dedicated sex working support team to help and guide you with quick responses.
  • Individual, one-on-one website creation coaching and training.
  • SEO audits and analytics setup.

Red Cloud is entirely sex worker-led and I aim to educate sex workers on technological literacy while I build their websites. If you want to transfer the hosting for your website to a sex worker owned company that’s FOSTA/SESTA proof, then I’m your girl.  There are a few limitations:  if you’re transferring from Wix or Squarespace their technology locks you into their services, and if you host pornographic material, Australian federal laws prevents me from hosting it.  However, I have other solutions if you need.  Red Cloud is also a great company to engage with if you want to rejig or refresh your brand with a new name or if you’ve just entered the industry.  Our Add-Ons means that anything you want can be added on top of your Package so it suits your needs.  I am not here to make big bucks off sex workers; I want to contribute to the growth and profit of sex worker businesses.  I understand not everyone has a casual $500 to invest and that is why I often create flexible financial arrangements; monthly payments instead of once-offs. I would much rather see you maximising your earnings when you are ready and not have to wait for that initial investment to come in.

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[US police] violence appears so widespread and consistent that you could…think…it’s coordinated at a national level.  –  T.C. Sottek

The Widening Gyre (#864)

It’s been a while since we’ve seen the “scrap paper” variant of the “sex traffickers marking cars” scary tale:

A spokesperson for the Texas Department of Public Safety said…post-it notes left on various cars throughout Lubbock were…not sex trafficking ploys…Lubbock Police…looked into the matter and found that the numbers were, in fact, from a legitimate hail damage repair company…three Facebook posts claiming the notes were sex trafficking ploys…had been shared over 3,000 times…

Hail causes sex trafficking!

You Were Warned (#926)

Australian politicians are just as invested in demolishing the internet as US ones:

…The Court of Appeal for New South Wales has just dismissed an attempt by several Australian media outlets to overturn a 2019 ruling that they could be held liable for Facebook comments about [the state torture of a young man named] Dylan Voller…Voller…sued some of the media outlets that covered him—not because the news reports defamed him, but because other people writing on the outlets’ Facebook pages were accusing him of having committed various crimes.  Australian courts have not yet ruled on whether these comments defamed Voller.  This fight is about whether media outlets could even be sued for Facebook comments.  The outlets argue that…Facebook does not let them preemptively stop individual readers from posting comments on their page.  They do have the option to delete, hide, or report individual comments, but only after they’ve been posted…But the fact that these outlets have the ability to delete comments after the fact was enough for Judge John Basten to declare them publishers…Another judge suggested that a potential solution would be…censor[ing] content…If this ruling stands, it’s going to force Australian media outlets to monitor all comments and beef up their social media teams at a time when they’re having to lay off staff and even shut down newspapers

Censor Chic (#948)

It’s so convenient to outsource tyranny to computers:

…certain combinations of Chinese characters have been immediately removed from [YouTube] within a few short seconds…[without] warning or reason…The Hanzi Which Shall Not Be Named were merely 共匪  (“communist bandit”) and 五毛 (“fifty cents”)…the term 共匪…was used by Nationalist partisans led by…Chiang Kai-shek against…Mao Zedong and the reds.  Today, it is considered a slur against the CCP…五毛 is a cleverer anti-CCP troll.  It’s basically calling a pro-CCP commenter a paid shill, albeit a cheap one.  The joke is that human CCP NPCs get paid fifty cents for each pro-CCP post; ergo, the “fifty-cent army” or 五毛党…those terms would not disappear from YouTube comments if you typed them out in English or in Pinyin…only…in the original Hanzi…YouTube is already banned in China and can be a pain to access without a good VPN and strong desire to do so…We are asked to believe that YouTube’s pesky algorithm just happened to accidentally disappear these very particular Chinese anti-government phrases since at least October of 2019…Perhaps the fifty-cent army flagged these phrases enough to become automatic triggers that the algorithm would automatically pull.  But it is also possible that someone at YouTube manually added these terms to a blocklist…Pressure from politicians of both parties contributed to Google winding down its proposed “Dragonfly” Chinese search engine that would have been compliant with CCP censorship demands…

Panopticon (#1007)

FWIW, the DEA mostly conducts old-fashioned Stasi-type surveillance:

The Drug Enforcement Administration has been granted sweeping new authority to “conduct covert surveillance” and collect intelligence on people participating in protests over the police killing of George Floyd…Attorney General William Barr issued a statement…blam[ing the protests on]…“anarchistic and far left extremists, using Antifa-like tactics”…He said the FBI, DEA, US Marshals, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives would be “deployed to support local efforts to enforce federal law.”  Barr did not say what those agencies would do, however…

Panopticon (#1030)

Pigs now routinely use spy drones for surveillance :

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is regularly flying Predator drones…above American cities for surveillance.  This includes cities farther than 100 miles from the border…In two instances last month, CBP…flew [a drone] either close to or directly above Minneapolis…[another] recently flew around half a dozen times above or near San Antonio, Texas, which is also outside the 100 mile border region.  In some cases the Predator drones circled above the cities for an extended period of time…

Social Distancing (#1041)

Australian sex workers are challenging crypto-moralism:

Sex workers in Australia could operate under a COVID-19-safe framework…according to the adults-only industry association.  The industry has been crippled by bans in all states and territories during the…pandemic.  As other industries are included in road maps for restarting, only the Northern Territory has given clear advice to sex workers on when they can return to work.  In a letter to Health Minister Greg Hunt…the Eros Association expressed concern that shutting down the sex industry was being “motivated by moral judgments…rather than any justified concerns regarding public health…strip clubs, escort agencies and brothels should be allowed to operate (with appropriate restrictions) at the same stage as other body work practitioners such as massage therapists…Attached to the letter were proposed guidelines for restarting the industry…

But for Video

Just a few choice selections of police brutality from the past week:

…A New York City [cop] tore a protective mask off of a young black man and assaulted him with pepper spray…New York City [cops]…rammed a crowd in a street…[cops] in Minneapolis marched down a quiet residential street and shot paint canisters at residents who were watching from their private porch…Police in Louisville raided a public square, [stealing] and destroying water and milk…used to counter irritants like pepper spray…Atlanta police [shot] two black people…with tasers and t[ore] them out of their car…A New York City [cop] used two hands to throw a woman to the ground…San Antonio Police used tear gas against people. So did Dallas policeSo did Los Angeles policeSo did DC police. The list goes on…A freelance photographer in Minneapolis…went permanently blind in her left eye after being [intentionally] shot [in the face with a rubber bullet at close range]…

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If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many is a video worth?  As the anti-cop protests go on, cops are responding in their usual unhinged, brutal fashion, thus making things worse and winning more support for the protesters.  And because video cameras are now ubiquitous, most of the attacks by deranged animals in uniform are caught on video.  Criminal defense attorney Greg Doucette started a Twitter thread to collect them; when I wrote this column on Thursday night, there were just over 300, and by the time you read this I wouldn’t be surprised if it had risen to up around 500.  A teacher named Jason Miller has taken on the Herculean task of cataloging each one in a Google document, which might give you some sense of an answer to my initial question, if you’re obsessive enough to count.  In the great majority of these cases, politicians and boss pigs have first responded with denials and/or prevarications, then after examining the videos closely enough to recognize that the violence is undeniable, they shift to excuse-making or pretended horror (followed by rewarding the attacking pig with a paid vacation until such time as the incident can be swept under the rug).  Note that in many if not most of these cases, the cops are fully aware they’re being recorded and carry on anyhow, counting on their riot gear and their covered-up nameplates and badge numbers to protect their anonymity and powerful police unions to protect their jobs.  A very small number of these will be prosecuted or fired; the rest will get away with it because the politicians are afraid of them and bootlickers grovel before them.  These monsters can no more be “reformed” than a rabid dog can; the only way to deal with them is to utterly remove their power by defunding them, disarming them and then dissolving them entirely.  And if that doesn’t happen, expect the next uprising to be far bloodier and far less transitory.

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