Notes From the Northern Colony

Greum Maol Stevenson, Scottish Writer and Activist

by Greum Maol Stevenson

On August 25, Craig Murray asked his supporters to virtually attend a procedural hearing for his trial for contempt of court, which was being held the following day. To attend, you had to dial a phone number; you could not simply watch a livestream in a browser.

A person in the tech world discovered that this was so phone numbers, and devices, could be tracked. Using the encrypted service Protonmail, this person emailed Murray, who has a Russian email address, telling him this, and advising people not to call the number. The email bounced back, with a message saying Protonmail was blocked. The person then posted a comment on Murray's blog, sharing the information and asking whether Protonmail was blocked by him personally (and, if so, why) or his Russian email provider, mail.ru.

The comment was not allowed to be posted.

#craigmurray #alexsalmond #scottishpolitics #protonmail #russia #surveillance

by Greum Maol Stevenson

In his latest report from the show-trial that is Julian Assange's “extradition hearing,” Craig Murray writes:

Even my blog has never been so systematically subject to shadowbanning from Twitter and Facebook as now. Normally about 50% of my blog readers arrive from Twitter and 40% from Facebook. During the trial it has been 3% from Twitter and 9% from Facebook. That is a fall from 90% to 12%. In the February hearings Facebook and Twitter were between them sending me over 200,000 readers a day. Now they are between them sending me 3,000 readers a day. To be plain that is very much less than my normal daily traffic from them just in ordinary times. It is the insidious nature of this censorship that is especially sinister – people believe they have successfully shared my articles on Twitter and Facebook, while those corporations hide from them that in fact it went into nobody’s timeline. My own family have not been getting their notifications of my posts on either platform.

That Murray is surprised by this would be comical were his naivete not the norm, rather than the exception. It is both bizarre and outrageous that journalists and activists use Twitter (which, according to Blacklight, captures your keystrokes) and Facebook. Both companies have shown themselves to be enemies of factual journalism, progressive politics, and democracy as a whole. To use those platforms is to validate them, and to accept their modus operandi, so it makes no sense for Murray to start complaining now.

To use Twitter or Facebook is to relinquish journalistic and political integrity. Audre Lorde still speaks to us from nearly 40 years ago: “The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house.”

Writers, activists, and political groups must create their own media, based on what some people in the Fediverse call “the solidarity economy.”

#craigmurray #julianassange #surveillancecapitalism #socialmedia #tracking #fediverse #blacklight #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Not all websites track you. This one doesn't, and neither does Gerry Hassan's. But here are some that do (information found using Blacklight):

The National has 29 ad trackers, more than four times the average of seven found on popular sites. It also has 12 third-party cookies, four times the average of three. On the bright side, it has no Google Analytics.

The Herald, owned by the same company as The Herald, is worse, with 35 ad trackers and 14 third-party cookies.

The Scotsman is worse than both of the above combined, with 41 ad trackers and 75 third-party cookies.

Scotland on Sunday, owned by the same company as The Scotsman, has 33 ad trackers and 59 third-party cookies.

Glasgow Live has 34 ad trackers, 66 third-party cookies, and allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.

The Ferret has seven ad trackers, three third-party cookies, and allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.

Bella Caledonia has one ad tracker. But it allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet.

Craig Murray's site has one ad tracker and eight third-party cookies.

Wings Over Scotland, aka The Daily McMail, has one ad tracker and three third-party cookies.

Common Weal has one ad tracker.

The Scottish Book Trust's site has four ad trackers, could be monitoring your keystrokes and mouse clicks, allows Google Analytics to follow you across the internet, and tells Facebook when you visit the site (though if you use Facebook this is the least of your worries).

#scottishwebsites, #theherald #thenational #thescotsman #scotlandonsunday, #craigmurray #gerryhassan #theferret #scottishbooktrust #commonweal #bellacaledonia #scottishpolitics #surveillancecapitalism #blacklight #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

I've seen and admired the work of street artist Oh Pandah all around central Glasgow the last few months, so today I was happy to discover they'd made a visit to my bit.

#maryhill #glasgow #graffiti #streetart #ohpandah #bigheids #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

The day after the “incident.” A week after the “incident.”

#wyndford #maryhill #glasgow #scotland #crime #violence #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Don't use Google, use Duckduckgo.

Don't use iMessage or SMS or FaceTime or WhatsApp, use Signal.

Don't use Zoom, use Jitsi.

Don't use Twitter, use Mastodon.

Don't use Youtube or Vimeo, use Peertube.

For email, use Fastmail or Protonmail.

Instead of Instagram, use Pixelfed.

Instead of Facebook, talk to your friends.

And if you're reading this, you're viewing the blogging platform you should use: Write.as.

#ethicaltech #dontbeevil #surveillancecapitalism #onlineprivacy #digitalprivacy #digitalsecurity #tracking #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

This advertisement from a predatory lender is being posted through letterboxes in the Wyndford housing scheme in Glasgow.

#glasgow #scotland #loansharks #predatoryloans #aablepersonalcredit #wyndford #maryhill #poverty #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

Last year, I remarked to a friend that he has what I consider a sexist habit of referring to female politicians by their first names, but uses last names for their male counterparts. He refers to the Scottish First Minister as “Nicola,” but never referred to her predecessor as “Alex.” I told him I thought this showed he took women less seriously than men, seeing them as closer to children than adults.

He replied he always referred to Boris Johnson by his first name, but admitted he didn't do that with any other male politicians. I suggested this supported my point, because Johnson's clownish persona made my friend see him as an overgrown child, giving him the same status he gave women.

And it is a persona; in private life, he's not called Boris. His friends and family call him Al, his actual first name (his name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson). In a similar way to the US cult of “Bernie” — Sanders's friends and family call him Bernard — Johnson is selling performance, not policy. But, unlike Sanders, he's dangerous.

In this ungrammatical column in The National, Lesley Riddoch does a good job of normalising him by referring to him with chummy, faux-familiarity.

It is of urgent importance not to trivialise this catastrophe with cute nicknames. Call him what he is: the Prime Minister. And in calling him that, consider the ultra-right-wing populist who now holds that office, and see where we are.

#borisjohnson #nicolasturgeon #populism #lesleyriddoch #scottishpolitics #thenational #scotland #greummaolstevenson

by Greum Maol Stevenson

There are activists, and journalists, and people who are both, who have blind spots about the dangers of surveillance technology even when writing about it.

In this article, Mike Small, editor of Bella Caledonia, begins: “I ‘sign-in’ to my phone with my fingerprint.”

No journalist or activist should use fingerprint (or face) recognition on their phone. While seductively convenient, it's dangerous. Police aren’t allowed to force you to give them your password so they can get into your phone, but they’re allowed to force you to open it with your fingerprint. This exposes not only the owner of the phone, but everyone they communicate with. A strong password, entered every time you check your phone, is surely worth the inconvenience.

Also published on The Harbourmaster's Loug

#mikesmall #bellacaledonia #surveillancecapitalism #privacy #greummaolstevenson

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