I’ve been getting approached with some article ideas and things people wanted responded to, since I’ve started this site, and thanks hugely for that. It’s pushed me in directions that’ve kept things interesting, and novelty prevents insanity. Feel free to keep em coming! One of the ways I’ve been approached was someone who wanted to know my impressions of a thing supposedly designed to make free speech easier. Many people are aware of the UK regulation putting people in jail for making people sad and angery on social media, but what if there were a way around that? Nick Monroe thinks he has a tool for that – a blocklist for UK cops, so that you can say what you want, without fear of reprisal. But is it really that simple?
So I’ve made my stance clear on blocklisting, and I don’t plan on making any retractions just because I’m talking about someone I respect a little. In my previous piece on these things, I accurately called blocklists, “a thing primarily used by idiot cowards to remain both.” I continued, “It’s a way for a social media user on a site with API to use that to help people blindly build echo chambers… a public list of people that anyone can “subscribe” to, in order to automatically block anyone an account in control of one blocks, up to 125,000 accounts.”
This doesn’t change now, because it’s still primarily used for that by those people, even though I sympathize deeply with this cause and sometimes kinda wish I weren’t a cynical asshole so I could just enjoy things and let people enjoy things…
But here we are. So what did Nick have to say about the idea?
“YO BRITISH PEOPLE. DO YOU WANT TO PROTEST THIS? **MAKE A BLOCKLIST OF ALL UK POLICE TWITTER ACCOUNTS.** – signed, a rebellious American willing to give you guys peaceful ideas for standing up for yourselves. Individually? It’s a powerful symbolic gesture to show you disagree with UK police acting on TWITTER TOGETHER? It’ll CRIPPLE their efforts in policing online speech. EVEN IF IT’S JUST A *LITTLE BIT* harder for them to crackdown via tweets? It’s a start.”  
But will it “cripple efforts”? I don’t think so. Here’s why.
In negative spaces, patterns emerge.
Human psychology is interesting, and when humans build technology, much like our gods, it doesn’t change us — it simply enhances what’s there, as we project our images onto it. This is an example of that, in action.
This head is an example of a negative space illusion. Most people likely don’t just see a collection of blue lines, and many probably recognize a human head in the pattern here. There’s no outline, noclear eyes, but there’s enough detail here that someone can recognize it nearly effortlessly.
You don’t likely see lines here as much as you see the head they make up. It’s seeing the forest, but for the trees, and it’s likely related to a evolutionary advantage designed to help people spot things in the wild. If you can see that head, you’ll be more likely to stop the human trying to harm you. In art, if you want to know, this is known as the Gestalt.
Gestalt is also known as the “Law of Simplicity” or the “Law of Pragnanz” (the entire figure or configuration), which states that every stimulus is perceived in its most simple form.
Gestalt theorists followed the basic principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, the whole (a picture, a car) carried a different and altogether greater meaning than its individual components (paint, canvas, brush; or tire, paint, metal, respectively). In viewing the “whole,” a cognitive process takes place – the mind makes a leap from comprehending the parts to realizing the whole,
We visually and psychologically attempt to make order out of chaos, to create harmony or structure from seemingly disconnected bits of information.
“So why does this matter here?” I hear the world scream in the more paranoid, risk averse parts of my brain… well, simple. If a UK PD wants to generate a list of thoughtcrime suspects, what better way than to isolate a list of the UK residents blocking literally all of their accounts, so they can escalate priority there? It’s all API, and the idea that it could only be used against police seems patently absurd.
At that point, all cops would have to do is what all the even basic-level Twitter trolls know how to do… create a sock, or open a private/incognito window. If your profile is unprotected, meaning publicly visible to non followers you haven’t authorized, they can still see everything you post, so if someone sends them a link, they can still arrest you. Almost nothing changed, but one step. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if:
- Twitter gives verified government accounts access to accounts anyway, or
- These PDs prepared for this tactic by simply not signing in to an account, circumventing all non-protected accounts’ blocks
I mean, let’s be clear – these accounts aren’t the long dick of the law… they’re the post production team making it look steamy when they bust a knob on your face. These are propaganda accounts, not the actual cops themselves, so this isn’t blocking any of them. Even the “personal” accounts of cops prob aren’t how they view tweets. CopBlocking still works best by filming them – sucks to say people aren’t willing to use harsher methods. So, to be clear, they wouldn’t be stopped by a blocklist, so while Nick is right that it is a step is the right direction, it’s not even really out the door yet.
What’s worse, remember that negative space we talked about earlier? Accounts that use this won’t “CRIPPLE their efforts in policing online speech.” I’d insert the “is it though” Thor image here, but I don’t want to ever be fucking Buzzfeed. It won’t cripple anything, and even if this article is somehow these bobbies’ first exposure to this tactic which has been heavily publicized by almost everyone, they’d have figured it out eventually.
Like the “monkeys with typewriters could write all of the works of Shakespeare by accident” thing, they’d have eventually bashed the mouse while holding control shift or something, and called the mates over to have a laugh at the discovery. He finished, “EVEN IF IT’S JUST A *LITTLE BIT* harder for them to crackdown via tweets? It’s a start.” I tried so hard not to point out that he just said it’ll “CRIPPLE” things, and then finished with how it’s only a little harder, but I just couldn’t do it, man. I just couldn’t. And it probably doesn’t help I didn’t sleep well last night and I have Kokushibyou Guillotine blaring full volume in my ears right now. But come on, man. Anyway, why do I care so much about this?
False assumptions make one vulnerable
“UK Police Twitter Blocklist
2.) Go to your Twitter account “SETTINGS AND PRIVACY” —-> “BLOCKED ACCOUNTS” —-> “IMPORT A LIST” —>upload the CSV file you downloaded in Step 1.
3.) ENJOY YOUR TWITTER FREEDOM FROM THE UK BIG BROTHER COPS”
So this is the tweet I was originally sent. And when you take into account what I said about negative space, this is a big. Fucking. Yikes.
Suddenly, a bunch of people think they have “Twitter freedom”, because they used something ineffective at providing it to do something that won’t help. What will people do with this “freedom”? Well, they’ll likely shiptost and get caught. I mean, if your goal is to flood UK prisons with people who like /b/, but not enough to post there, you’ve got an ace ticket.
Soldiers know the Gestalt. They have different camo patterns, for different environments, and it lets them blend in. But you wear urban camo in the forest, or desert camo in the city, and you’ll stick out like a swollen bellend. If these people think people aren’t still gonna get menstrual and crypost to the beat because of a thing that didn’t precisely conform to their ideas, knowing the tool is available, the common shitposter might say a lot of stuff that’ll get em an even longer sentence than otherwise, blithely unaware that they’re being the laughingstock subject of the pigs Cameron won’t fuck over the evening pint.
When they get done making their population duller than the legal limit on kitchen knives, they’ll go on to a smorgasbord of people to jail, and these people would think they’re safe? I’m reminded of the pic of a corkboard someone thumbtacked condoms to, saying “stay protected!” If I didn’t normally respect what Nick does, and think he’s probably one of the good guys, that paranoia that made me anarchist at first might make me think this was a sting, because it’s just that effective, and calling this “A CURE for the 1984 DISEASE” is just icing on the cake. And that’s not even getting into the potentials here, alluded to well by one of my longtime followers, @DoktorEvilGamer, “inb4 oi mate, where’s your blocking loicence?!” Indeed.
The good points
So now that I’m done only being a prick about this, here are the two tweets which stuck out as really good info:
I mean… it’s MORE LIKELY the police CAN’T BLOCK **YOU** But there’s no law saying that YOU CAN’T BLOCK **UK POLICE** right? It’s perfectly peaceful and fair protest.
And according to this, the U.K. police give a shit about community relations via twitter as well. So you’d be impacting their interests.
So to be clear, this is very good as a peaceful protest measure, if you’re into that. Want to send the message that they can’t control you? Go for it! But just keep in mind… You’re not free. They can still hit you, and they will. I don’t mean to say there’s no hope! But the truth is, humans have sacrificed so much liberty in the name of security that it beggars belief, and this is the grave mankind has dug themselves. We will die and be buried here if we do not take decisive, effective action, fast. So here’s my list of solutions, and a bunch of things you can support me by getting.
The way out…
Protect your account. That’s your first step. They can’t private window, or sock, their way in, then Privacy and Safety, and click Protect your Tweets.
If selected, only those you approve will receive your Tweets. Your future Tweets will not be available publicly. Tweets posted previously may still be publicly visible in some places.
Or just click this, then click the setting. It’s your life. Now, this won’t stop them if my suspicion that verified government accounts, agents, and officers, can still access Tweets if you’re suspected of crime, and while this definitely shouldn’t be considered a crime, it is. As Robert Freeman wisely said, “you do what you can.” But here’s where the ultrasecurity steps come in.
Buy a VPN. Not only will it help here, but it’ll help when Articles 11 and 13 destroy UK internet. So get one ASAP anyway. NordVPN, a platform of choice for many internet vloggers and bloggers, is available for Windows, Mac, Linux, Chrome, Firefox, Android, and Apple devices. It has P2P support for your torrents, too, and TOR compatibility, so that’s nice. It also allows up to six devices to be secured at once, and you can buy your plan in cryptocurrency if you want to keep those pesky bankers off your tail, and an automatic internet killswitch, so if your VPN turns off while you’re out of the room, there’s no need to worry about being bespooked.
Available for 2.33 GBP a month with a three year plan, it’s not the worst price, but if you don’t want to drop 84 quid on a VPN right now, or pay 64 for a on-year plan, PureVPN has you covered for just over 30 for a year, also available for cryptocurrency purchase. Based in Hong Kong, they aren’t beholden to the 5 and 14 eyes of global intelligence to store your data. I actually prefer that, ideologically speaking, and it appeals to my inner fugitive. The only downside seems to be that it only allows 5 devices at once, but it’s also compatible with more devices, including your game consoles and “smart” ware. Also works with Raspberry Pi, if you’re a dev, and you want to do something with that.
But once you get your VPN, you’ll need a new device to use it from. Twitter checks your device ID to make sure it’s not been used for a previously banned account, so it’s a safe bet you can’t count on them not also logging you as a UK resident if they decide to add you to some registry, or open your account to the “government agents” dashboard I suspect exists. Remember, XKEYSCORE was just a “paranoid idea” until it wasn’t. So here’s links – get you a new phone, laptop, or Desktop PC, or whatever.
Install the VPN on the device, and you have a sort of thin layer of security here. Connect to a US server, and you’ll officially be granted American citizenship. Okay not really, but the bobbies won’t know the difference. Create a new email with that active, and use that email to sign up for Twitter. When you sign up, use a new phone, with a registered US number, to verify it. You can get one of those with Google Hangouts. Then, start your account, and never tell people you don’t trust that you’re a Briton. Enjoy your expensive “free” speech!
Realize that it’s gonna take a more drastic change than an individual protest in order to secure your liberty, and do something decidedly less peaceful. Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide you won’t take this shit anymore. There are 126,000 bobbies. there are 66,000,000 of you. They’re outmatched 523 to 1! Ultimately, it’s up to you to decide you aren’t going to be intimidated into silence and expensive purchases by an elitist pack of rich blokes more concerned with naughty words than reaching a Brexit deal, and more concerned with cowing you into submission than fighting real crime. If just 20 of you stopped evenry fucked-off officer trying to arrest someone for words, you’d be in an infinitely better position, liberty-wise. They can’t put you all in prison, and ultimately, it’s up to you how many people get there to begin with. So you have to decide…
How much are you willing to take?
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