Behind the scenes, Minds is at war. Minds is not the only small social media platform experiencing this. It is the one best positioned to survive it. The siege only started with trolls and pornbots. Trolling can be funny and informative, an art form. This isn't that. Some skilled but lowlife trolls, not artists, are on Minds trying to divide, in order to conquer or destroy, Minds. Failing that, they're trying to smear Minds and cut it off from investment funds, just as it's taking off. Even a lowlife troll or two trying to hurt Minds would simply keep life interesting for pro-Minds trolls who like to hunt them down -- and know how to keep troll wars hidden.Thing is, these trolls are up front, highly organized, well-funded, accompanied by AI-enhanced bot armies. Who or what could be behind it?
Take your pick.
Facebook in the spring, summer and fall of 2018 went into a nosedive, and has been described by The New York Times as lashing out viciously and in nefarioius ways at any sign of competition. Minds -- offering free speech, privacy, transparency, decentralization, with no surveillance or selling of users, and payment for work, in crypto tokens if you wish, etc. -- is increasingly viable competition as a social media network. No doubt "coincidentally", a national campaign by Paypal, MasterCard and Visa is withdrawing payment mechanisms from small social media platforms that champion free speech, as Minds does.
Seemingly against "hate speech" following 2018 antisemitic murders in Pittsburgh, that campaign is deceptive. Our shadow government by global corporation is meanwhile acting in ways that would instantly be held unconstitutional if the U.S. government did it.
In Brandenburg v. Ohio, the US Supreme Court held that the U.S. government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it intentionally and effectively provokes a crowd to immediately carry out violent and unlawful action. This extremely high standard is in place in US Constitutional law for three good reasons. First, one of the purposes of free speech in a democracy is to provoke activism against unjust rules and laws. (Granted, the Brandenburg case referred to a member of the KKK who shouted that "there might have to be some revengeance [sic] taken” for the “continued suppression of the white, Caucasian race.” Second, however, people are legally accountable for their own actions, regardless of who says what.)
Third, think of freedom of speech as a controlled burn, preventing all-engulfing conflagrations. On November 15, 2018, BitChute (an alternative to Google's YouTube) announced that Paypal had shut off service, adding,: “Censorship and deplatforming are poor ways to tackle societal problems as they merely create echo chambers that can lead to bigger problems in the long run." To use another metaphor, suppression of free speech puts enraged people in a hidden pressure cooker. As Gab' noted, moreover, “Social media brings out the best and the worst of humanity. From live streamed murders on Facebook to threats of violence by bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc Jr. that went unaddressed by Twitter, and more, criminals and criminal behavior exist on every social media platform."
Attempting to squash small alternative platforms only increases the power of a monopoly doing far greater harm.
It was Facebook, not one of those little guys, that exposed 250,000,000 US people, essentially the entire US adult population, to the vicious AI psyops of Cambridge Analytica in 2017, mislaying another 90,000,000 people in 2018. Facebook moreover blocked and banned nonviolent Vietnamese dissidents and reportedly turned some of them over to a government known to torture and murder its opponents. The Vietnamese were the 6th largest group on Facebook. In July 2018 Minds.com therefore inarguably angered both Facebook and the Vietnamese totalitarian government when it welcomed 150,000 Vietnamese streaming in from Facebook to Minds. Real trouble -- again bo doubt coincidentally -- came in late spring/summer/fall of 2018. You can see these trolls as just plain folks if you want to....
As AI-enhanced pornbots specializing in Asian women hammered Minds, the questionable trolls first tried to divide and slime Minds from within, posing as users but ferociously, openly trying to control or bring down Minds. Anyone who actively opposes them was attacked. (I simply refused to help them and was slandered.) At one point they even offered to pay us to turn on each other.
Then it got worse. The wildly independent Minds community not just the Minds tech crew in other words began to pull together for a reason. Chairman of the Minds board and co-founder John Ottman said on November 25, 2018, "Several attacks are underway by multiple bad actors. Some may be nation states and others likely not. Culture wars are full on, and we seem to be ground zero. Gab and Bitchute are financially disabled, but we are protected from that by crypto. We are fully funded and our payments cannot be halted by PayPal, Visa and Mastercard. It will be tough for Gab and Bitchute. Ironically these attacks are making us stronger. With each attack, our defense improves...."
To this, add the timely arrival of Patrick Byrne. Minds had already gone from a $15 million valuation in 2017 to $24 million in 2018. As these attacks began, Byrne, CEO and majority owner of Overstock.com and its subsidiary Medici Ventures was contemplating investing an additional six million dollars in Minds. Not only would that be rocket fuel for Minds, but Byrne himself would be a formidable protector and mentor in the financial and political world that young Minds faces. Obviously not having done their homework about him, the trolls attacked next by trying to manipulate Patrick Byrne....
Background here about Byrne....
A black belt in Tae Kuon Do, a professional-level boxer, Byrne is a skilled infighter in other senses as well. Byrne is now selling Overstock to concentrate on blockchain, but he took Overstock into profitability in 2009. One year later, as BadCrypto noted in a GroundZeroPodcast, "In 2010, Forbes Magazine named Overstock.com the No. 9 Best Company to Work for in the Country, and Byrne the CEO with the highest employee approval rating (92%)....In 2011, Ernst & Young gave Byrne its National Entrepreneur of the Year Award....In 2014, Overstock.com was one of the Most Trustworthy Companies in America as named by Forbes/MSCI ESG Research...."
Byrne comes from global corporate high finance yet is one of its most perceptive and active critics.The son of John Byrne the creator and CEO then Chair of GEICO insurance, a corporation which Warren Buffett acquired, Byrne was mentored by Buffett. The "Wizard of Wall Street" has for decades been one of the five wealthiest men in the world, and is the past master when it comes to the markets. His apprentice, Byrne knows both Wall Street and world trade and exactly how they work with corrupt governments.
Yet or therefore, Patrick Byrne is demonstrably not awed by big tech, big traders, big government or even Warren Buffett.
Three years before the world markets' crash of 2007, Byrne became a constant gadfly, through his DeepCapture.com website accusing major traders of fraud, denouncing in great detail the criminality rampant on the Street, exposing the corporate world's corrupt relationship to governments, insisting that it would crash. The Street did everything that it could to smear and discredit him. The attack was so brutal and the backstage networking so savage that some well-placed journalists were personally afraid to give him positive coverage; others were afraid to criticize him. He for example verbally attacking Fortune writer Bethany McClean so ferociously that she stopped covering him.
Bryne did not back down and proved correct. Meanwhile Bitcoin, building on the cypherpunk work of decades, arrived. Byrne's mentor, Warren Buffett, denounced it. Byrne however as majority owner of Overstock.com emerged as the first major corporate head to allow his company to accept Bitcoin in payment for goods.
More recently, Byrne was the first to launch an ICO, a cryprocurrency coin offering, creating a venture capital fund. The fund, Medici Ventures, invests in promising young businesses that are inventing and moving onto the blockchain -- like Minds.
Byrne is in other words accustomed to smear tactics, convinced that Minds is on the right track, and extremely hard to push around. The trolls creeping around Minds (or whoever sent them, or those poor dear innocents if you prefer) nonetheless tried to block Medici's six million dollar investment in Minds by dumping piles about Minds on Medici's desk. Ignoring them, Byrne's Medici invested six million dollars in Minds, buying 20%. Byrne in spite of the anti-Minds propaganda flurry is here.
FINDING DEEPER TRUTHS ABOUT BYRNE
With Patrick Byrne part of the Minds leadership, a new set of uh, users who had arrived in spring and summer began blogposting, drawing on that garbage put out by Wall Street back when Byrne was trying to prevent the 2007 crash.
These were not reasoned pieces; they were blatant hit jobs, and they disappeared after multiple challenges from users, to be followed by better-written ones that continue to spread nonsense at lightening speed.
I elsewhere refuted those in detail, but in a nutshell: No, George Soros, in spite of a load of rumors, is NOT an investor in Minds, Medici or Overstock or some fictive Minds "shell company". Patrick Byrne moreover did NOT buy Minds; he bought 20%. No he did NOT "take over" Minds. The Ottmans own 80%.
One piece on Byrne by Francois Carpentier now in the Minds blogs gallery refers to a 2016 lawsuit against Byrne, his Deep Capture LLC, and author Mark Mitchell. It's not a troll piece, but to my eye, it lacks context and therefore, unless you happen to already know the context, can be misleading.
Deep Capture refers to the practice of industries' "capturing" the government agencies that are supposed to be regulating them by getting an industry executive in as the government agency's head -- by bribing a mayor, governor, president or political party chief. Through DeepCapture.com, Patrick Byrne and Mark Mitchell have been crusading against Wall Street financial fraud and political corruption since 2004, naming names. Among years-worth of articles, Byrne carried many written by Mark Mitchell, some of them purportedly exposing the allegedly nefarious practices of a Canadian entrepreneur, Altaf Nazerali. Nazerali sued. In articles and editorials, Byrne and Mitchell stepped up the heat.
[My next sentence was in my original draft incorrect. I said that Byrne won the first round on that case. He did not.] When the suit was tried in court, Byrne and Mitchell lost. They also lost on appeal. Carpentier, the author of the Minds blogpost, begins there, with, "According to Supreme Court decision, Patrick M. Byrne was found guilty of libel and defamation and fined $1.2 million...."
Reel that back a bit.
Defamation cases are not decided by the US Supreme Court, Canadian Supreme Court or any other national court unless the justices have decided to redefine "defamation." This was in British Colombia, Canada's westernmost province, the equivalent in US terms of a state's highest appeals court. It was a civil suit not criminal proceedings, so no one was "found guilty". No one was fined. To put this in proper context. In a 2016 Canadian provincial supreme court decision, Overstock CEO Patrick M. Byrne, DeepCapture LLC and Mark Mitchell were held responsible for libel and defamation and Canadian entrepreneur Atlaf Nazarelli was awarded $1.2 million.
Byrne has for 14 years exposed the questionable business practices of hundreds of financiers, brokers and CEOs on DeepCapture.com. Legal challenges, given the number of them, have been largely unsuccessful. In 2011, Altaf Nazerali, however sued for libel and defamation, successfully. Byrne appealed, and Byrne again lost. The appellate judge's 102-page findings were scathing, accusing Byrne and Mirchell of "an indifference to truth" perpetrating a "vendetta" with "an indecent and pitiless desire to wound".
That in context is a relevant story. But how does Capentier jump from that to his lede, ""According to Supreme Court decision, Patrick M. Byrne was found guilty of libel and defamation and fined $1.2 million. Will Minds.com investor Patrick Byrne or his Medici Ventures be trouble with Minds.com? Will Byrne try to interfere, censor, smear or try to bully into silence Minds' Board of Directors or Minds users?"
Byrne is a defender -- an eloquent and loud user -- of free speech. To quote Wikipedia, Byrne, "holds a certificate from Beijing Normal University, has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese studies from Dartmouth College, a master's degree from Cambridge University as a Marshall Scholar, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University."
Byrne fights financial fraud and Wall Street corruption at the top of his lungs and in language that is far from PC. John Ottman, Bill Ottman's father and Minds initial investor, is the former president of an IBM subsidiary, and before then an exec in outfits like Wang, and the author of an early book on cyber security. Given Byrne's active fury at people who defraud their clients or the markets, Byrne's betting on Minds is a vote of confidence in the integrity of the Minds leadership.
However, what bothers me about Byrne is something that none of these pieces mention....
We live in an oligarchy. A global corporate CEO like Byrne can give a well-placed politician a few thousands dollars and get back billions in direct and indirect taxpayer subsidies for his corporation, which rebounds in part into his salary, dividends, other perks and stock options. Byrne clearly understands that "political contributions" from wealthy financiers and CEOs tend to be thinly-veiled bribery. They rarely invest in anything including politicians without expecting a big return. That "legalized corruption", like regulatory "deep cover ", is destroying both the markets and the republic. Yet Byrne was the largest political donor in Utah 2003-2206, and no slouch since. His father was third.
Bloomberg News says that US taxpayers give global banks in subsidy (in exchange for nothing) $85 billion a year. As IMF figures show, none of the global banks and many of the other globals like GE are profitable as businesses. Their "profit margins", and the dividends they pay, are wholly accounted for by taxpayer subsidy. So my question becomes, how much if anything do Utah and the world give Overstock in unearned subsidy?
I do not yet have to answer to that. What I can tell you is that he gives on an issue basis and the level of his contributions is extraordinary. He also thinks for himself, which confuses the heck out of people on both "sides".
I think it would be fair to say that Byrne is a Milton Friedman acolyte on economics, fiscally conservative, socially progressive Libertarian. Byrne is based in a conservative state, Utah, dominated by the Mormon Church. Consequently some there see him as a "Leftist". He for example backed with $49,000 a proposition legalizing medical marijuana in Utah, opposed by the Mormon Church, which passed on November 8, 2018.
Others see him as "Rightist". He contributed heavily to a ballot proposition that school vouchers, public funds, be used to send kids to private schools. Although Byrne and his parents spent over $4 million in 2008 to try to get the voucher measure through, Utah voters rejected it.
Byrne also gave $75,000 to Jon Huntsman's governor's race in 2008, because Huntsman promised to enact vouchers. When Governor Huntsman did not, Byrne said he would back anyone who could unseat Huntsman"even a communist" (which is what the Libertarians or "classical liberals" in Utah call progressives). That growl was obviously a joke. No progressive would back school vouchers...
Nothing shows Byrne's independence from doctrine so clearly as his complex stance on gay marriage. When the US Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, explaining that it violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection, it thus extended the provision of civil marriage to all citizens, straight or LBGTQ, but let the states decide what marriage is legally. Byrne publicly supported a lawsuit to overturn Utah's 2004 state constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage. It was overturned in federal court that year. The vice chairman of the Overstock board, Jonathan Johnson, then drew up a constitutional amendment to prohibit requiring a religious organization to "solemnize, officiate in, or recognize any particular marriage or religious rite of marriage in violation of its beliefs." In 2016, Byrne gave $500,000 to Johnson's run for governor. Patrick Byrne thus both championed the civil right of any citizens to marry and the civil right of religious organizations not to take part.
That same year, Byrne dove into Democratic primary politics to back Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders, but afterward spent a million dollars on a feature-length film, Rigged, condemning both the Democratic and Republican parties, and in the general election backed Libertarian Gary Johnson for US President.
A far westerner, he views guns as appendages. The Byrne family owns a school teaching weapon use and weapon safety. Utah is concealed carry, but weapons are not allowed on US airplanes unless carried by air marshals, and concealed carries are not allowed in many other states. Granted, Byrne had over $3000 in cash on him that day in 2013 when, as @FrancioseCarpentier reported in Minds, Byrne attempted to carry a concealed Glock, loaded with 12 hollow point bullets, on board a US passenger plane. Alternatives to packing heat on a passenger plane however include credit cards, crypto or using his cell phone to transfer from his bank accounts, and valuing law over personal whim. He was arrested.
Fifty-six, he has never lived life close to his chest. A skydiver, a scuba diver, a three-time cancer survivor, Byrne in 2016, through Fortune Magazine, explained that he was battling "Stage IV...Hepatitis C, contracted (to save awkward questions) in 1984 in Xinjiang when a barefoot doctor sewed up a head wound under less-than-ideal conditions...." He stepped down briefly from Overstock in 2016, not sure that he would live to return, but was back at work within a few months. He is now selling Overstock in order to concentrate his wealth on forcing a break-up of monopolies through investment in small companies dedicated to decentralization and blockchain -- like Minds.
Byrne is also an oligarch, and like several other oligarchs -- Mark Cuban, already-president Donald Trump and Mark Zuckerberg -- is considering a run for US president in 2020. No fan of rule by the rich, I'm not stumping for any of them. This oligarch, Byrne, however is a genuine champion of the smaller, leaner. smarter businesses that are breaking up the staggeringly dangerous level of global and national centralization, and Byrne is not given to backing down. That then is who just bought a fifth interest in this place, and just took a seat on the Minds board of directors that was already facing and out-thinking those huge forces trying to take out Minds.
Think Millennium Falcon. Hold tight....
[Banner illustration: monteneyelearning.org] To any trolls trying to bring down Minds as opposed to frolicking on it, you will be blocked and erased without hesitation, explanation or regret. Waste your effort if you wish. To any who factually disagree with me, welcome and have at it!