April 2012: US President Barack Obama says Google and Facebook would not exist without government funding during remarks on the budget battle with House Republicans:
“Obama made the remark at a campaign fundraiser while criticizing the budget passed by House Republicans. Obama said the Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget would, among other things, cut funding for research.
“I believe in investing in basic research and science because I understand that all these extraordinary companies that are these enormous wealth-generators — many of them would have never been there; Google, Facebook would not exist, had it not been for investments that we made as a country in basic science and research,” Obama said. “I understand that makes us all better off.”
Barack Obama himself admitted that the government helped Google and Facebook get off the ground. The government was present at the beginning when both companies were created.
Let’s play a game of “What’s More Likely?” Is it more likely that the government funded and assisted the origins of Facebook and Google purely out of the goodness of the its heart? Or is it more likely that the government helped start Facebook and Google because they’d be able to assist the government in achieving its goals in areas like mass-surveillance, “counterterrorism” (itself largely a guise for mass-surveillance) and military intelligence?
“But that’s just a nutty conspiracy theory!”
Really? Almost everyone knows (or at least should know) the US Government’s Military/Intelligence community created the internet via its ARPANET project dating back to the late 1960s. Al Gore in 1999 claimed to have “taken the initiative in creating the Internet” during his time in Congress. Though his remark is often lampooned, it still speaks to the widely-acknowledged truth that the Internet was created by the government. Al Gore is mocked because he tried to take personal credit for inventing the internet, not because he said the government created the internet.
Starting from there, why would it be so hard to believe that any of the major companies that dominate the internet today are also of government origin?
For some reason it’s a stretch to believe the government invented Facebook and Google, but it’s not a stretch at all to believe the government invented the internet itself–which it did.
What’s more likely: that the government invented the internet and then just stopped, totally backed off and said, “Okay, American people: This is all for you. We’re done here. Go wild!” Or that the government invented the internet and then continued using it and expanding it and developing an array of internet-based programs that would help the government–specifically its Military/Intelligence divisions–achieve its goals?
“But if Facebook and Google are government fronts, that means they’re lying to us!”
Yes, because of course the Uniparty Oligarchy would never lie to you.
“But I saw the Facebook movie! It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg!”
Right, because Hollywood would never lie to you either.
February 4, 2004, Wired Magazine: “Pentagon Kills LifeLog Project“. What was LifeLog? It sounds an awful lot like Facebook:
“THE PENTAGON CANCELED its so-called LifeLog project, an ambitious effort to build a database tracking a person’s entire existence.”
“Run by DARPA, the Defense Department’s research arm, LifeLog aimed to gather in a single place just about everything an individual says, sees or does: the phone calls made, the TV shows watched, the magazines read, the plane tickets bought, the e-mail sent and received. Out of this seemingly endless ocean of information, computer scientists would plot distinctive routes in the data, mapping relationships, memories, events and experiences.”
Facebook is not quite as intrusive into your personal life as LifeLog aspired to be. But it’s pretty close; Facebook checks many of the boxes the Pentagon hoped LifeLog would. Read Cosmo Magazine? Like their page! Watch Game of Thrones? Like its Facebook page! Why would the government need a record of all the plane tickets you’ve bought when people can’t wait to post pictures of every place they visit? If you’re from Florida and you post a picture of yourself in Times Square, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that you bought a plane ticket to New York.
“LifeLog’s backers said the all-encompassing diary could have turned into a near-perfect digital memory, giving its users computerized assistants with an almost flawless recall of what they had done in the past. But civil libertarians immediately pounced on the project when it debuted last spring , arguing that LifeLog could become the ultimate tool for profiling potential enemies of the state.”
As if that wasn’t the point all along.
“Researchers close to the project say they’re not sure why it was dropped late last month. Darpa hasn’t provided an explanation for LifeLog’s quiet cancellation. “A change in priorities” is the only rationale agency spokeswoman Jan Walker gave to Wired News.”
Abrupt cancellation in late January 2004 due to “a change in priorities”? How about a change in the name: guess what also happened on February 4, 2004, the same day Wired published its article about the Pentagon killing the LifeLog project?
Also from the Wired piece:
“Private-sector research in this area is proceeding. At Microsoft, for example, minicomputer pioneer Gordon Bell’s program, MyLifeBits, continues to develop ways to sort and store memories.
David Karger, Shrobe’s colleague at MIT, thinks such efforts will still go on at Darpa, too. “I am sure that such research will continue to be funded under some other title,” wrote Karger in an e-mail. “I can’t imagine DARPA ‘dropping out’ of such a key research area.”
Karger was right. LifeLog wasn’t canceled. It simply became Facebook.
It’s obvious why the government would rather keep its involvement in Facebook quiet: when you’re asking people to voluntarily share almost every detail of their personal lives, they’re much more likely to do so if it’s with a cool start-up tech company than an explicitly government-run program like LifeLog.
Facebook has convinced people to share where they live, their political and religious views, a list of their friends and acquaintances, hundreds and thousands of personal photos, and provide updates of not only everything they’re doing but everything they’re thinking. Facebook’s algorithms are so advanced that it can find people you know in real life but aren’t friends with on Facebook, and even automatically detect your face in photographs you haven’t been tagged in.
And you’re telling me the government wants nothing to do with Facebook?
In a few short years, not only hundreds of millions of Americans but billions of people around the world willingly handed over more personal information to Facebook than any government intelligence agency could ever dream of obtaining over the course of decades and decades of good old fashioned spying.
Facebook is the intelligence community’s dream program. With the invention of Facebook, all the sudden old-fashioned spying no longer really became all that necessary to obtain information on people. You can just go on their Facebook page and find almost anything you want to know.
And the best part for the government is, people are doing it willingly because all their friends are doing it.
So all together, between Facebook’s social media empire of its namesake site, Instagram and the messaging service WhatsApp, this company has more data on more people than all the spy agencies in the world put together.
Do you really believe a 20-year-old computer nerd built the most expansive intelligence database in history and the government had nothing to do with it?
Let’s put it this way: if the government isn’t currently using Facebook to easily and effortlessly conduct mass surveillance on us, then we have the most bumbling, oblivious, idiotic and incompetent government ever.
“But what if Zuckerberg simply told the government to fuck off when it tried to commandeer Facebook? Facebook is a private company!”
First of all, the government would not come asking Facebook to kindly hand over everything after Facebook was already built up into one of the world’s largest corporations. The government would have gotten to Facebook years ago. If the government was not already in Facebook at the beginning, someone from the Pentagon or CIA would have taken notice very early in Facebook’s lifespan–say 2005, 2006, 2007. They would have strong-armed Facebook right at the beginning after recognizing its staggering potential.
Again, that’s if they weren’t in on Facebook from the very beginning.
The point is, it’s nearly impossible to believe the government simply stood by for the past 15 years and allowed Facebook to amass all the power it has.
But another problem is the assumption that Zuckerberg, and private companies in general, even have the ability to tell the government to fuck off. Do you really think the Pentagon is going to be told to fuck off by a college computer nerd?
The government can do whatever the hell it wants. If you have something the government wants, or needs, it can take it from you. The principle of “eminent domain” does not only apply to private landowners having their land seized by the government to build a freeway overpass on. It applies to virtually anything including private businesses.
Most people know the Fifth Amendment from the “right to remain silent” and not self-incriminate, but most people don’t know the Fifth Amendment also permits the government to seize private property at will. Here’s the full text of the Fifth Amendment with the relevant parts highlighted:
“No person shall be subject, except in cases of impeachment, to more than one punishment or trial for the same offense; nor shall be compelled to be a witness against himself; nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor be obliged to relinquish his property, where it may be necessary for public use, without just compensation….[E]xcept in cases of impeachments, and cases arising in the land or naval forces, or the militia when on actual service, in time of war or public danger…in all crimes punishable with loss of life or member, presentment or indictment by a grand jury shall be an essential preliminary….”
The relevant part for our purposes here: “No person shall be obliged to relinquish his property, where it may be necessary for public use, without just compensation.”
The Constitution itself allows the government to oblige individuals to relinquish their private property so long as the government pays “just compensation.” And don’t construe this “just compensation” clause to mean “the government has to make you a fair offer for your private property.” Not at all. What it means is, when the government comes to take your property, they have to say, “We’re taking your property, here’s some money for your troubles.” You don’t have the option to say no. It’s not an offer.
I bet most people don’t even know this is in the Constitution.
And with the greatly expanded government powers since 9/11 to act in the name of “national security,” even if the government didn’t already have eminent domain power, do you really think the government couldn’t simply seize control of Facebook in the interest of national security? And this would have been done over a decade ago.
Okay, so you still don’t believe the government is behind Facebook. You consider it believable that the government allowed a 20-year-old nerd to build the most expansive surveillance database in history. You believe the government stood idly by for 15 years while Facebook grew from one user to 2.8 billion. You believe our government is so bumbling and dimwitted that it never recognized and co-opted the incredible power of Facebook all this time.
But do you believe other countries’ governments are all equally as bumbling, incompetent and behind-the-times?
Because if our government had never gotten to Facebook, then Russian intelligence would have. And early, too. If not Russia, then the Chinese government. Or perhaps the British would have stepped in and saved our monumentally stupid government from itself before it allowed the greatest surveillance tool in history to fall into the hands of the Russians or the Chinese. They would all have recognized the incredible potential of Facebook in the highly unlikely event our government didn’t.
But apparently it’s believable that none of the most powerful governments on the planet recognized Facebook’s power early on and took control of it because, I guess, “the government doesn’t understand computers.” Yes, only Mark Zuckerberg understands computers. He’s smarter and more forward-thinking than the full might of the Pentagon and the CIA put together. And the Russian FSB. And M15. And Chinese intelligence. They’re all just a bunch of dumb government bureaucrats who “don’t understand computers” and Silicon Valley is to this day lightyears ahead of all of them.
Utter nonsense. Our government created the internet itself. If you think the government is too doddering and old-fashioned to have recognized the potential for Facebook early on, you’re high. For crying out loud, as we just went over above, the Pentagon had the idea for Facebook in early 2003. Even if you stubbornly believe it’s merely a massive coincidence that Facebook came about right around the time the Pentagon was developing its LifeLog project, there is still indisputable evidence that the government had the idea for Facebook well over 15 years ago.
So that would mean that the government had the idea for Facebook, was beaten to the punch by Mark Zuckerberg, a 20-year-old college computer nerd, and then never lifted a finger while Zuckerberg turned Facebook into the greatest surveillance tool in history over the course of 15+ years, even though it had the power to seize Facebook at any point along the way.
When you get around to thinking about Facebook and its relationship with the government, it’s actually far more difficult to believe the government doesn’t control it than that it does.
In light of everything discussed here, when you ask the question, “Does the government own Facebook?” it’s almost impossible to conceive a situation where it doesn’t.
The only way someone could still, after all that, believe Facebook is a private company and not a cut-out of the federal government, is if they are desperate not to believe it. Perhaps some people are not yet ready to reckon with the fact that this country is a lot less free than they’ve been led to believe their entire lives.
That’s understandable. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Especially if you’ve been a daily user of Facebook over the past 10+ years.
As we’ve seen above, it defies nearly all logic and common sense to believe the federal government is not deeply involved in Facebook.
But where’s the actual evidence? Sure, the theory makes a ton of sense, but where’s the actual connection? If the Zuckerberg Story is a myth, then what’s the real story?
That story begins with a venture capital firm called In-Q-Tel. Like most venture capital firms in America, In-Q-Tel invests in promising tech startups, finding them in their early stages and providing them with crucial funding so that they can realize their full potential.
But unlike all the other venture capital firms in America, In-Q-Tel is unique in that it is owned by the CIA. From the Wikipedia page:
“In-Q-Tel (IQT), formerly Peleus and known as In-Q-It, is an American not-for-profit venture capital firm based in Arlington, Virginia. It invests in high-tech companies for the sole purpose of keeping the Central Intelligence Agency, and other intelligence agencies, equipped with the latest in information technology in support of United States intelligence capability. The name, “In-Q-Tel” is an intentional reference to Q, the fictional inventor who supplies technology to James Bond. In-Q-Tel’s mission is to identify and invest in companies developing cutting-edge technologies that serve United States national security interests.”
Even though this is all public information, most Americans are probably unaware that the CIA has its own venture capital firm designed to invest early in the latest tech companies and products that can potentially be of use to the Intelligence Community.
Former CIA Director George Tenet stated of In-Q-Tel:
“CIA identifies pressing problems, and In-Q-Tel provides the technology to address them.”
In-Q-Tel was founded in 1999, well before Facebook was founded. Assuming the folks in charge of In-Q-Tel weren’t completely incompetent, they would have almost certainly identified Facebook very early on and put the CIA’s money behind it. After all, In-Q-Tel was founded to do just that.
So did In-Q-Tel invest in Facebook early on? Well, there’s no direct evidence that they did, but from what we do know, it seems likely:
“As far back as 2005, The Washington Post reported that virtually any U.S. entrepreneur, inventor or research scientist working on ways to analyze data had probably received a phone call from In-Q-Tel or at least been Googled by its staff of technology watchers.
One company that happened to be very hungry for startup capital in 2005 was Facebook. Facebook was launched in February 2004 from the Harvard dorm room of Mark Zuckerberg and friends.
The company received its first capital injection of $500,000 from Peter Thiel that summer. The next two capital injections were $12.7 million from Thiel and Accel Partners in May 2005 and then $27.5 million from an Accel-led round of financing that included Thiel, Accel and Greylock Partners in April 2006.
Just for fun, I searched for each of those investors and In-Q-Tel at the same time.
Here is what I found:
Peter Thiel — Took In-Q-Tel funding for his startup firm Palantir somewhere around 2004.
Accel Partners — In 2004, Accel partner James Breyer sat on the board of directors of military defense contractor BBN with In-Q-Tel’s CEO Gilman Louie.
Greylock Partners — Howard Cox, the head of Greylock, served directly on In-Q-Tel’s board of directors.
Now, I’m not saying that the CIA or In-Q-Tel had any direct involvement with Facebook.”
“All I’m saying is that it appears to me that the key early investors in Facebook had direct relationships with In-Q-Tel or In-Q-Tel’s top management at the same time that Facebook was raising capital…
I’m also saying that at this very same time, In-Q-Tel was a company that was very, very interested in gathering the kind of data that Facebook would have to offer. I have not seen any evidence that In-Q-Tel made an investment in Facebook, but if I had In-Q-Tel’s connections at the time Facebook was searching for capital, I probably would have made a phone call to one young Mark Zuckerberg.”
The Facebook-In-Q-Tel connection centers around that guy James Breyer. Breyer, according to his Wikipedia page, is a venture capitalist worth over $2.4 billion largely due to his early investments in Facebook.
“Accel Partners was Facebook’s biggest shareholder after Mark Zuckerberg, owning an 11% stake at the time of the company’s 2012 IPO. In 2005, Breyer led Accel Partners’ $12.7 million deposit at a $98 million valuation in the then ten-employee startup Facebook. Breyer also led the 2004 management buyout of BBN Technologies from Verizon.”
Breyer was the second-largest shareholder in Facebook behind Mark Zuckerberg when the company went public in 2012. Breyer got in at the very beginning for Facebook, and during that time in 2004, Breyer was also involved in the buyout of BBN Technologies, where a man named Gilman Louie sat on the board of directors. Gilman Louie is best known for serving as the first CEO of In-Q-Tel. So at the same time Breyer was investing millions in Facebook, he sat on the board of directors of BBN Technologies with the CEO of In-Q-Tel, making it highly likely Breyer’s investments in Facebook were made partially on behalf of In-Q-Tel.
And yet, when you look through the list of In-Q-Tel’s investments–available on its Wikipedia page–the name Facebook does not appear. Why is In-Q-Tel listed as an early investor in dozens of different companies, but not Facebook?
Well, it’s pretty obvious why the CIA would want to keep its involvement in Facebook secret and without a clear paper trail. The whole idea of Facebook is to get people to willingly share their personal information, and that goal would be hampered pretty significantly if there were a clear, public connection between Facebook and the CIA.
In other words, the CIA–I mean In-Q-Tel–is happy to inform you of its investment in tech companies you’ve never heard of like MemSQL, Destineer, Forterra and Lingotek. But it certainly wouldn’t behoove the CIA to publicize its involvement in Facebook. That kind of defeats the whole purpose of Facebook, doesn’t it?
It seems highly likely that the CIA was involved in Facebook early on through investors like James Breyer, Howard Cox and Peter Thiel, all of whom were connected to In-Q-Tel. These guys all got stupidly rich off of Facebook, but most likely they were investing on behalf of In-Q-Tel in order to muddle the CIA’s connection to the social network. The CIA doesn’t care who gets rich off its investments in Facebook; the CIA was after the technology and access to Facebook those investors enabled.
My guess is that the Pentagon was working on LifeLog since at least early 2003 and essentially merged the project with a little tech startup called Facebook after Zuckerberg was discovered by In-Q-Tel. I would assume Facebook has been sharing everything with the government since 2004. I sincerely doubt Facebook would have become what it is today without the government’s early involvement.
Zuckerberg, for his part, has kept quiet about the government’s involvement because he got insanely rich from Facebook, and because spilling the beans would put his company and his billions in jeopardy. He has everything to lose from revealing the truth.
So what about Google?
Fortunately for us, Google’s involvement with the CIA is much clearer than Facebook’s. We don’t have to speculate all that much.
In 2015, Nafeez Ahmed, a British investigative journalist who formerly wrote for the Guardian and VICE, published a long piece entitled “How the CIA Made Google.” It’s a fascinating story that you should read in full, but here are the relevant excerpts detailing the CIA’s oversight of the work of a Stanford computer science student named Sergey Brin, the man who would go on to found Google with Larry Page:
“In 1994 two young PhD students at Stanford University, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, made their breakthrough on the first automated web crawling and page ranking application. That application remains the core component of what eventually became Google’s search service. Brin and Page had performed their work with funding from the Digital Library Initiative (DLI), a multi-agency program of the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA and DARPA.
But that’s just one side of the story.
Throughout the development of the search engine, Sergey Brin reported regularly and directly to two people who were not Stanford faculty at all: Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham and Dr. Rick Steinheiser. Both were representatives of a sensitive US intelligence community research program on information security and data-mining.”
Google, like Facebook, is yet another Tech Fairytale of a couple of nerds who seemingly created world-changing technology and founded multi-billion dollar megacorporations essentially by accident:
“Thuraisingham is currently the Louis A. Beecherl distinguished professor and executive director of the Cyber Security Research Institute at the University of Texas, Dallas, and a sought-after expert on data-mining, data management and information security issues. But in the 1990s, she worked for the MITRE Corp., a leading US defense contractor, where she managed the Massive Digital Data Systems [MDDS] initiative, a project sponsored by the NSA, CIA, and the Director of Central Intelligence, to foster innovative research in information technology.
“We funded Stanford University through the computer scientist Jeffrey Ullman, who had several promising graduate students working on many exciting areas,” Prof. Thuraisingham told me. “One of them was Sergey Brin, the founder of Google. The intelligence community’s MDDS program essentially provided Brin seed-funding, which was supplemented by many other sources, including the private sector.”
The government was in on Google from the very beginning:
“In an extraordinary document hosted by the website of the University of Texas, Thuraisingham recounts that from 1993 to 1999, “the Intelligence Community [IC] started a program called Massive Digital Data Systems (MDDS) that I was managing for the Intelligence Community when I was at the MITRE Corporation.” The program funded 15 research efforts at various universities, including Stanford. Its goal was developing “data management technologies to manage several terabytes to petabytes of data,” including for “query processing, transaction management, metadata management, storage management, and data integration.”
In other words, exactly what Google became.
“In her University of Texas article, she attaches the copy of an abstract of the US intelligence community’s MDDS program that had been presented to the “Annual Intelligence Community Symposium” in 1995. The abstract reveals that the primary sponsors of the MDDS programme were three agencies: the NSA, the CIA’s Office of Research & Development, and the intelligence community’s Community Management Staff (CMS) which operates under the Director of Central Intelligence. Administrators of the program, which provided funding of around 3–4 million dollars per year for 3–4 years, were identified as Hal Curran (NSA), Robert Kluttz (CMS), Dr. Claudia Pierce (NSA), Dr. Rick Steinheiser (standing for the CIA’s Office of Research and Devepment), and Dr. Thuraisingham herself.
Thuraisingham goes on in her article to reiterate that this joint CIA-NSA program partly funded Sergey Brin to develop the core of Google, through a grant to Stanford managed by Brin’s supervisor Prof. Jeffrey D. Ullman:
“In fact, the Google founder Mr. Sergey Brin was partly funded by this program while he was a PhD student at Stanford. He together with his advisor Prof. Jeffrey Ullman and my colleague at MITRE, Dr. Chris Clifton [Mitre’s chief scientist in IT], developed the Query Flocks System which produced solutions for mining large amounts of data stored in databases. I remember visiting Stanford with Dr. Rick Steinheiser from the Intelligence Community and Mr. Brin would rush in on roller blades, give his presentation and rush out. In fact the last time we met in September 1998, Mr. Brin demonstrated to us his search engine which became Google soon after.”
Brin and Page officially incorporated Google as a company in September 1998, the very month they last reported to Thuraisingham and Steinheiser.”
I’m sure the government was so proud of Sergey Brin and his work, which it funded, and expected nothing at all in return from him. I’m sure the Intelligence Community’s involvement with Google stopped in 1998.
That’s what Thuraisingham essentially tried to claim when Ahmed’s article was first published in 2015:
“There are also several inaccuracies in Dr. Ahmed’s article (dated January 22, 2015). For example, the MDDS program was not a ‘sensitive’ program as stated by Dr. Ahmed; it was an Unclassified program that funded universities in the US. Furthermore, Sergey Brin never reported to me or to Dr. Rick Steinheiser; he only gave presentations to us during our visits to the Department of Computer Science at Stanford during the 1990s. Also, MDDS never funded Google; it funded Stanford University.”
“Here, there is no substantive factual difference in Thuraisingham’s accounts, other than to assert that her statement associating Sergey Brin with the development of ‘query flocks’ is mistaken. Notably, this acknowledgement is derived not from her own knowledge, but from this very article quoting a comment from a Google spokesperson.
However, the bizarre attempt to disassociate Google from the MDDS program misses the mark. Firstly, the MDDS never funded Google, because during the development of the core components of the Google search engine, there was no company incorporated with that name. The grant was instead provided to Stanford University through Prof. Ullman, through whom some MDDS funding was used to support Brin who was co-developing Google at the time.”
Thuraisingham cleverly tries to claim the MDDS program never funded Google knowing full well that’s not what Ahmed is saying: he’s saying MDDS funded Brin’s research which later became Google.
“Secondly, Thuraisingham then adds that Brin never “reported” to her or the CIA’s Steinheiser, but admits he “gave presentations to us during our visits to the Department of Computer Science at Stanford during the 1990s.” It is unclear, though, what the distinction is here between reporting, and delivering a detailed presentation—either way, Thuraisingham confirms that she and the CIA had taken a keen interest in Brin’s development of Google.”
Thirdly, Thuraisingham describes the MDDS program as “unclassified,” but this does not contradict its “sensitive” nature. As someone who has worked for decades as an intelligence contractor and advisor, Thuraisingham is surely aware that there are many ways of categorizing intelligence, including ‘sensitive but unclassified.’ A number of former US intelligence officials I spoke to said that the almost total lack of public information on the CIA and NSA’s MDDS initiative suggests that although the program was not classified, it is likely instead that its contents were considered sensitive, which would explain efforts to minimize transparency about the program and the way it fed back into developing tools for the US intelligence community.
Fourthly, and finally, it is important to point out that the MDDS abstract which Thuraisingham includes in her University of Texas document states clearly not only that the Director of Central Intelligence’s CMS, CIA and NSA were the overseers of the MDDS initiative, but that the intended customers of the project were “DoD, IC, and other government organizations”: the Pentagon, the US intelligence community, and other relevant US government agencies.
In other words, the provision of MDDS funding to Brin through Ullman, under the oversight of Thuraisingham and Steinheiser, was fundamentally because they recognized the potential utility of Brin’s work developing Google to the Pentagon, intelligence community, and the federal government at large.”
Again, I highly recommend reading Ahmed’s entire piece. It’s long but I’ve included the most relevant parts for our purposes here. In a later section he details how the Pentagon had been funding Stanford’s computer science department dating back to the 1970s in search of programs that could be of great use to the military and the IC. My impression is that the Pentagon also seeded some other successful software projects that went on to become major corporations during that period–such as SUN Microsystems and Granite, which was eventually absorbed by Cisco Systems–but it only truly hit the jackpot in the late 1990s with Google.
The main point here is that not only was the CIA, represented by Rick Steinheiser, funding Brin’s project which would eventually become Google, Brin was directly reporting to Steinheiser and giving him periodic updates on the search project all the way up until the moment Google was incorporated in September 1998.
Now, tell me what’s more likely to have happened after Brin founded Google in 1998: Steinheiser and Thuraisingham proudly watched their little baby bird, Brin, spread his wings and fly away from the Pentagon-funded nest to found his world-changing company, never to speak again. Or that the CIA and other Pentagon departments remained as heavily intertwined with Google after its official founding as they had been during the research and development stage?
It defies belief to claim the CIA and the Pentagon were simply funding Sergey’s School Science Project and were just so gosh darn proud of him when he turned it into Google. They watched from afar like proud parents as Google went on to make hundreds of billions of dollars and dominate the internet. That’s basically what Thuraisingham is saying. “We were just fascinated by Sergey’s School Project! That’s all!”
The fundamental difference, in my understanding of things, between the government’s involvement in Google and its involvement in Facebook is that Google was originally intended to primarily help the Pentagon efficiently manage, process and and navigate its massive computer and data networks. The fact that Google had immense potential for civilian and commercial use was, if not incidental, then at least secondary: at first, the military/IC just wanted a way to easily and efficiently navigate its enormous database of information in the earliest years of the computer/internet era.
But Facebook, on the other hand, was a fundamentally post-9/11 idea: Facebook, from its very beginning as LifeLog, was designed with spying and mass surveillance in mind. It was only after 9/11 that the federal government became obsessed with data collection and monitoring people. The Pentagon had to figure out how to use the internet to nail the next big terrorist cell before it committed another 9/11. And so that’s how the “database for people” idea was born.
Of course, this isn’t to say that surveillance and monitoring never crossed anybody at the Pentagon or CIA’s mind when they were working with/on Google during the pre-9/11 era. This QZ article explains how as early as 1995, the CIA was interested in finding a way to organize the “World Wide Web” in such a way that terrorists and bad actors could be easily identified and tracked based on what they were doing online:
“The research arms of the CIA and NSA hoped that the best computer-science minds in academia could identify what they called “birds of a feather:” Just as geese fly together in large V shapes, or flocks of sparrows make sudden movements together in harmony, they predicted that like-minded groups of humans would move together online. The intelligence community named their first unclassified briefing for scientists the “birds of a feather” briefing, and the “Birds of a Feather Session on the Intelligence Community Initiative in Massive Digital Data Systems” took place at the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose in the spring of 1995.
Their research aim was to track digital fingerprints inside the rapidly expanding global information network, which was then known as the World Wide Web. Could an entire world of digital information be organized so that the requests humans made inside such a network be tracked and sorted? Could their queries be linked and ranked in order of importance? Could “birds of a feather” be identified inside this sea of information so that communities and groups could be tracked in an organized way?
By working with emerging commercial-data companies, their intent was to track like-minded groups of people across the internet and identify them from the digital fingerprints they left behind, much like forensic scientists use fingerprint smudges to identify criminals. Just as “birds of a feather flock together,” they predicted that potential terrorists would communicate with each other in this new global, connected world—and they could find them by identifying patterns in this massive amount of new information. Once these groups were identified, they could then follow their digital trails everywhere.”
So Google was ordained with some degree of surveillance/counterterrorism potential in mind, even in the pre-9/11 era. And this is what makes it all the more likely that the government maintained a close relationship–perhaps even control–with Google after its founding in 1998. But while Google had potential for surveillance, my point is that Facebook is different in that its sole purpose from the start was surveillance. Google was designed to be a way to turn a vast digital ocean of information into an easily navigable and organized database, while Facebook was designed from the start to be a massive database of people.
Which only makes it more likely that Facebook has been run by the CIA from the start. It just makes sense: it built off of the central idea of Google–which is to turn the internet into a massive, easily navigable database–and simply applied it to people.
I’ll admit that it wasn’t until quite recently that I began seriously entertaining the idea that Facebook and Google were not only functioning as arms of the political elite, but were literally founded and directly operated by the political elite.
It was obvious they were on the same side as the Establishment, and working toward the same ends, but I never considered the possibility that they were straight-up Chinese-style State-Owned Enterprises.
I’ll outline my evolution on this line of thinking:
- First I thought Big Corporations had become more powerful than the government.
- Then I slowly realized, mainly after reading this book, that there are no accidents in politics. That means the Big Corporations, including those in Silicon Valley, only got as big and powerful as they are because the government wanted them to–or, if you prefer, did not stop them from getting so powerful. The government is not a bystander. Barack Obama did the most to promote this idea of the Bystander President and Government that doesn’t have much control over anything at all. Obama was always claiming he heard of his administration’s scandals “in the news,” and shared your anger for his administration’s mishandling of this and that. The common theme was that even though he was President, he was still a bystander who didn’t have much control over anything. This is the opposite of the truth, but it’s exactly what the government wants you to believe.
- From bailouts to tax breaks to direct funding by the Pentagon and CIA, the government has its fingerprints on all the big corporations. You only get to be a Big Corporation if you’re either A. willingly doing what the government wants you to do, or B. you were simply created by the federal government itself. Sometimes it’s both A & B.
- Why does the government have Big Corporations doing its bidding? Simple: because while the government is constrained in many areas by the Constitution, the private sector is not. The government may not be able to kill free speech, but Facebook and Google certainly can. Plus, regular Americans are largely oblivious to the fact that they’re being tyrannized by the Big Corporations. It’s not as obvious as when the government does it. If Congress passed a law dictating what people can and cannot say on social media, there would immediately be a public outcry over free speech. The law would be struck down by the Supreme Court for violating the First Amendment. This is why they’ve outsourced their assault on free speech to Silicon Valley cut-outs. Regular Americans are far less likely to be skeptical of Big Business™ than they are the government.
It’s funny how our minds work:
“Give up all my personal information to the government? HELL NO!”
“Give up all my personal information to Facebook? Sign me up!”
Americans are largely under the impression that they’re free. No matter what they learn about their government–whether it be about the WMDs in Iraq, the fabricating of evidence of chemical weapon attacks in Syria as an excuse to go to war, the NSA’s widespread spying and surveillance program, or the Deep State-produced Russiagate Hoax that facilitated the Obama administration’s unprecedented weaponization of the intelligence community to spy on the Trump Presidential campaign–Americans still believe they’re free from tyranny.
This is because Facebook is called “Facebook” rather than the Federal Database of Personal Information on All Americans.
This is because Google is called a “Google” rather than “Tell The Government Every Thought That Has Ever Crossed Your Mind Dot Com.”
Way back in 2011, The Onion realized that Facebook was clearly a government project designed to conduct mass surveillance on Americans. The Onion is a parody site, but this hilarious clip hits the nail square on the head:
This clip would be hilarious if it wasn’t true.