An example of the fall-out from one of the many attacks against U.S. citizens in this case:

Responsive to the requests for damages calculation metrics by various agencies including FBI, DOJ, SSA, OSC, FEC, SEC, GAO and the United States Congress

Too big to fail? Tech's decade of scale, corruption and impunity

Big tech behaves as though power absolves them of responsibility. Have we learned nothing since the financial crash?

Big tech behaves as though power absolves them of responsibilityIllustration: Ariel Davis/The Guardian

Towards the end of the last decade, two American social networks – Facebook and MySpace – were locked in a battle to conquer the rest of the world.

The two companies took “radically different” approaches to their global expansions, TechCrunch reported at the time. MySpace spent time and money building local infrastructure for each new market – hiring a team on the ground, translating the site and performing outreach to local musicians and artists. Facebook simply enlisted volunteers to crowdsource the site’s translation into new languages, starting with Spanish, then German, French and more.

By 2010, Facebook had been translated into more than 80 languages by volunteers and had signed up half a billion users worldwide.Meanwhile, MySpace had begun its long decline.

Setting up all those foreign offices had “literally wast[ed] hundreds of millions of dollars,” the site’s former vice-president of online marketing, Sean Percival, recalled in a postmortem in 2015. “Whereas Facebook said: ‘We don’t need to set up offices that quick; this thing is gonna scale.’”

Scale. If there is one word that encapsulates the past decade in the tech industry, it is scale. Scale is the holy grail of the venture capital-backed tech startup, the state in which exponential growth in users – and revenues – can be achieved by linear increases in infrastructure – and costs.

Facebook scaled. Uber scaled. YouTube scaled. Airbnb scaled. Amazon scaled.

In achieving this state, it helped to have a business with minimal physical infrastructure (Facebook, YouTube and other software companies) – or to offload the cost of owning and maintaining that infrastructure to contractors (Uber, Airbnb). Amazon managed to scale despite requiring significant physical infrastructure; WeWork did not.

The 2010s saw a fundamental reconfiguring of untold numbers of businesses into platform-based markets, from advertising to transportation to travel. Local businesses folded or adapted; either way, the platforms won.

Uber drivers sit in their cars as they wait for passengers in São Paulo, Brazil on 13 February 2017. Photograph: Nacho Doce/Reuters

The numbers associated with the size of these platforms defy comprehension.

In 2018, YouTube said users were uploading 500 hours of video every minute, which is 1,250 days of video per hour, or more than 82 years of video per day. Uber says that it gives 45 rides every second – just in the US – adding up to nearly 4m rides a day – just in the US. Facebook deleted 2.8bn fake accounts between October 2017 and November 2018. When hackers stole the personal information of 14 million Facebook users, the breach represented less than 1% of the company’s users, a population greater than Tokyo. Airbnb claims to have listings in more than 100,000 cities.

It’s impossible for anyone to know everything that’s happening on these platforms, and it’s obvious that the companies aren’t even bothering to try.

It is perhaps one of the small ironies of the 21st century that the foundations for many of the tech leviathans of the 2010s were laid just as the global economy was grappling with the consequences of the catastrophic scale of another industry – banking.

One month after Facebook began its global conquest with minimal investment and maximum speed, the Federal Reserve bailed out Bear Stearns with a $25bn loan. Airbnb was founded that summer, just a few weeks before Lehman Brothers crashed. In March 2009, as the Dow Jones hit its nadir, Uber was founded.

“Too big to fail” became the watchword of a policy of the grotesque. Banks got bailed out, homeowners got thrown out. Bankers cashed bonus checks; workers filed for unemployment. The system wobbled but did not collapse. Up close, a million minor tragedies unfolded. But from a high enough vantage point, everything was fine.

Was it a coincidence that the years of “too big to fail” birthed a generation of companies that have in the intervening decade been allowed to grow even bigger and more unmanageable? Or did those who warned of the moral hazard of the bailout see their predictions come true, in another industry?

Harvey Miller, business finance and restructuring partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges, LLP, talks with Lehman Brothers’ former chairman and CEO Richard Fuld before the two men testify before Congress on 1 September 2010 in Washington DC. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Because rather than taking the lesson of comic books that with great power comes great responsibility, the tech platforms have adopted the stance that with great scale comes total impunity.

Take Facebook’s global presence. The social network is now officially available in 111 languages. The rules that govern what users can or cannot post on the site – on crucial issues ranging from hate speech and incitement, to violence to health misinformation and self-harm – had only been translated into 41 languages as of April 2019, according to an investigation by Reuters. The company’s 15,000 content moderators were fluent in just about 50 languages, and the company’s much-vaunted automated tools that are supposed to detect dangerous content only worked in about 30.

Facebook did not respond to a query from the Guardian asking if these numbers had changed since April.

Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy, told Reuters that translating the content rulebook, which is about 9,400 words in English, was “a heavy lift”.

Since 2010, Facebook’s net profit has exceeded $69.1bn. What may have been opportunistic and strategic in 2008, when Facebook was a money-losing startup, is simply inexcusable today.

The results of unchecked hate and propaganda can be deadly: Facebook’s failures to adequately police hate speech have been implicated in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Myanmar and anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka. Language barriers hampered its ability to understand and respond to what was happening in both countries.

A fire-gutted business establishment in Sri Lanka after a state of emergency was declared in March 2018. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

And this is just one example of the multitude of areas where Facebook and other large platforms have refused to take responsibility for their own companies, with scale used as a shield for blame.

When Uber released a safety report showing that more than 3,000 passengers in the US had reported sexual assaults in 2018, it cast the problem as societal. “In the United States alone, more than 45 rides on Uber happen every second,” Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West, wrote in a blogpost. “At that scale, we are not immune to society’s most serious safety challenges, including sexual assault.” Sure, but society doesn’t take a cut of every Uber ride; Uber does.

YouTube launched a specialized platform for children in 2015 and, four years and innumerable scandals later, still does not pre-screen content to ensure that it is actually appropriate for children.

Amazon’s market dominance has been fueled by its decision to allow third-party sellers on its platform. The result has been wildly profitable for Amazon, but a Wall Street Journal investigation found thousands of unsafe items for sale on the site, including children’s products.

Tech companies tend to operate on the assumption that if you feed meals to 10,000 children, and only poison 10 of them, that’s an acceptable rate considering the scale.

On the threshold of a new decade, few things seem clear except that we will be dealing with the ramifications of a handful of tech companies’ unmanageable scale for years to come. Because the beauty of scaled platforms is that, while the profits accrue just to the companies, the negative consequences accumulate for all of us.

From one of the claims:

"Responsive to the requests for damages calculation metrics by various agencies including FBI, DOJ, SSA, OSC, FEC, SEC, GAO and the United States Congress

Natural-born U.S. citizen Applicant #1 has been employed in the USA for many decades.

He worked for his community and his country as a law enforcement and intelligence researcher (law/IC) in which he closed cases that saved Americans billions of dollars. He holds numerous state and federal certifications and credentials to this effect and was certified as an investigator under the State Government at the California Office Of Consumer Affairs.Applicant has been a federal witness for active GAO, FBI, SEC, EU and FTC investigations.

He also worked as a CEO, Inventor and Product Development Director for which the U.S. Government has awarded him dozens of seminal patent awards for products in use by Microsoft, Sony and other major companies to provide products and services to billions of people.

He has received commendation letters from U.S. Presidents, Agency heads and Mayors. He is pictured in videos, photographs, articles, meetings and on letterhead government and corporate correspondence with some of the most famous public and White House figures in America for decades.

Applicant was induced by federal executives to invest his life savings in projects for the U.S. Government and those projects turned to be money laundering programs for those, now fired, federal officers and agencies.

He reported the corruption in a trillion dollar Department of Energy embezzlement scam involving crooked uranium, lithium, indium and other metals, he was attacked by State and Federal employees, many of whom have now been terminated because of their illicit actions. Applicant was also exposed to those, and other, toxic materials in his work for the Department of Energy which produced disabling toxic poisoning. He was awarded a federal contract under a Congressional commendation to assist America in creating alternative energy systems before the toxic poisoning effects were fully visible.

Part of the state-sponsored attack launched against Applicant #1 used the same exact personnel, servers, digital systems, production equipment and other resources that are owned, or managed, by Google/Alphabet/YouTube for national election candidate counter-measures services. Google/Alphabet/YouTube sells these services, under many guises, as offerings to promote any candidate or damage any candidate for a fee, or for an exchange of items of value. Our investigators have acquired some of the billing and banking documents verifying this and the FBI has full access to all such documents proving this assertion. The billing value of the attack against Applicant #1 (in commensurate multiple-billing efforts by Google/Alphabet/YouTube) had a minimum commercial value of $30M in billings. This metric is based on records of political election campaign services sold by Google/Alphabet/YouTube since the year 2002. In other words, in a past elections, hard, documented numbers, employee statements, banking records, stock records, billing records and other materials exist, in jury trial acceptable form, to prove that, for example, Google/Alphabet/YouTube spent a certain exact amount of money and resources-of-value to defeat one candidate and to seek to elect that candidates opposition.

Additionally, relative to the Google/Alphabet/YouTube portion of the attack, Google/Alphabet/YouTube owners are on federal and Congressional record swearing under oath that they do "not manipulate search results in order to harm others", yet investigators for Applicant #1 and over 1000 outside third parties proved that the opposite was true and that Google/Alphabet/YouTube executives lied under oath. The fact that the attack link on Google's front page never moved position for 5 years and other confirming data, proves the assertion that Google/Alphabet/YouTube sells defamation and character assassination services and sold them against Applicant. Applicant helped place sensors on servers globally which used comparative search results from competing global search engines to prove that Google/Alphabet/YouTube was rigging most search results to promote it's friends and harm it's political and business enemies.

California Senators, White House staff, U.S. Department of Energy staff and the owners and executives of Google/Alphabet/YouTube are also the investor/shareholders in Applicants competitors who were government financed and who did engage in quid-pro-quo kick-backs, money laundering, bribery and self-dealing between the parties. Applicant was a shareholder in an energy company which sued the government for remand and won the case for remand and created new federal laws to block such corruption. In reprisal, that company was forced out of business by California and federal officials who owned stock in it's competitors and had personal relationships with the owners of those competitors.

The industry metricized standard for person’s with, at least, the skills and experience of Applicant, in his demographic, is a minimum of $10,000 per month in the local technology market for those with less hours, less patent awards, less past work reference letters and less experience than Applicant. Silicon Valley job metrics and census data prove that that is even a low figure for a commensurate worker. Lost work opportunity for Applicant should be valued at a minimum of $10,000.00 per month.

Even though Applicant has been an extraordinarily productive, working member of the community and the U.S. Government; and Applicant has organized companies and programs which have paid millions of dollars in taxes, Applicant is currently only afforded the most minimal benefits possible. In other words, Applicant has saved billions of dollars for the Government and the taxpayers and, additionally, has organized companies and programs which paid millions of dollars in taxes and free services to The Government yet Applicant seems to be getting only political reprisals as gratitude.

State and Federal employee corruption and reprisal actions cost Applicant his savings and nearly a billion dollars of potential income by intentionally sabotaging and terminating his operating, Congressional financed, Congressional commended national service companies featured on NPR, CBS News, and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and hundreds of other mainstream news outlets. Corrupt State and Federal employees engaged in these benefit blockade reprisals because Applicant’s companies competed with the stock market holdings of those corrupt State and Federal employees.

These are the very same public officials who have interdiction capability at state and federal agencies. It is quite reasonable to assume that these State and Federal employees, who have a court record of using reprisal actions against others, just like they did to Applicant, ordered federal agencies to harm Applicant. These public officials defrauded Applicant by asking and causing him, and his Team, to invest in their program. It turned out they were using Applicant’s business ventures to cover (smoke-screen) their crimes at the expense of Applicant and the taxpayers.

To be clear, Government employees put hundreds of millions of dollars of stock market profits in their, and their associates pockets, part of which they took from Applicant’s funding, and then attacked Applicant, in a large number of reprisal actions.

Applicant reported crimes by public officials which led to the FBI raid of Solyndra, opened the Uranium One investigation and the firing of the Secretary Of Energy for corruption. Part of Applicant’s work involved creating America’s next national energy solutions.

Applicant worked with the U.S. Department of Energy, HUD, NAHB and related entities in work with the national weapons and energy labs since 2000. Applicant worked with nuclear, heavy metals, sintered rare earth metals, extreme solvents and nano-particulated exotic chemistries and won a historical Congressional commendation, first-ever seminal U.S. Government patent awards, industry and press acclaim, customer acclaim and a multi-million dollar lab research grant in the Congressional Iraq War Bill.

Even though Applicant’s has worked in service to his country, Applicant has been denied his legal rights. Applicant’s U.S. Constitution and California Constitutional rights have been denied because he “did the right thing” and helped law enforcement.

The most senior FBI and DOJ executives including James Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, David Oh and others are under federal investigation for running reprisal character assassinations and working with the economic assassins from Fusion GPS, Google Media, Gawker Media and other illicit attack organizations. Applicant reported to some of these men.

Charges of FBI, DOJ, VA and SSA executive reprisal manipulations and attacks against citizens would have sounded hard to believe a decade ago but, in the post-Snowden world, catching those who pervert State and Federal offices has become common-place. It is beyond reasonable to assume that Applicant’s charges of government agency reprisal-stonewalling are well founded and have full legal merit.

The services who charge to perform the support work for such attacks provide a life-time placement of negative attack data on Google and on all of the Axciom, Taleo and other hiring HR and hiring databases, globally; and the locking, on the front top page of Google search results, forever, of the attack and defamation data, as was done because Applicant testified to Congress, the GAO and the FBI.

The attacks on Applicant were “State Sponsored Attacks” directed, financed and managed by California State public officials and Federal Agency officers.

Instead of the “Thanks of a grateful nation”, Applicant has received political reprisals, revenge and vendettas using taxpayer financed resources. Applicant has contributed more in the service of his country and community than most citizens. We ask your office to correct the record and bring fairness and justice to the finalization of this case.Applicant, his family, friends, associates and others will pursue this forever, through the media, law enforcement and alternative means ...until it is fairly resolved.

The suspects in these crimes received over 50 billion+ dollars in profits from the crimes.

The suspects received over 50 billion dollars at the expense of the victims because they intentionally, maliciously and in a coordinated manner, circumvented, those monies from the victims and the victim's income streams.

The amount of money that the suspects acquired from these crimes is confirmed by reports at the Securities and Exchange Commission, The Internal Revenue Service, the FTC and stock market transfer records.

Each competing company of the Applicant's that the suspects sabotaged had the potential to make as much money, or more money, than the suspects companies did in the same time period. Applicant's companies would have operated competitively had they not been sabotaged by the government officials. These other companies offered lower cost, safer, longer range products which higher volumes of consumers had demanded. This means that, if these companies had not been sabotaged by these corrupt government officials who, owned stock in these insider companies, they would have made even more money than the insider companies.

Thus, and by extension, the corrupt Senator's and White House staff stock ownership's in Applicant's competitor's, provide a minimum baseline damages amount reference for comparable damages values using GAAP accounting references. Each competing company that suspects sabotaged,had the potential to make as much money, or more money, than known competing company revenues.

The government officials used character assassination as a vendetta process to seek to destroy the brands, reputations and witness testimony of the victims by manipulating their properties.

The suspects hired Fusion GPS, Black Cube, Google, Media Matters, Gizmodo and Gawker Media to author and distribute character assassination propaganda to the majority of the world’s population via their pre-arranged and contrived control of the vast majority of digital media.

In a similar case, Plaintiff Terry Bollea (AKA: Hulk Hogan) was awarded $145 million dollars in damages because of character assassination efforts by the same parties. The attacks on Plaintiffs exceeded the resources used against Terry Bollea by many magnitudes and thus, the $145 million dollar figure would be a minimum damages figure for each Plaintiff in our case as each Applicant was attacked in such a manner.

For example, Google, the stock of which is owned by the suspects, locked the attacks on the front page on the top line of Google for over five years, without ever moving it, even though Plaintiffs purchased thousands of servers, and take-down requests to attempt to move the attacks even a few lines lower. This proves that Google was manually, and daily rigging the attacks. Thus, the damages award to the Applicant should be much higher than the Terry Bollea award.

Government funding which was circumvented by suspects from Applicant to themselves was not the largest quantified value of loss. Working with Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, McKinsey, etc., suspects exploited the White House relationship with The Fed and the SEC to create a massive stock market valuation padding scheme which yielded historical profits. By stating government funds as “profit” and switching back and forth from stock skims to government funds in accounting records, tremendous stock market profits were placed in the pockets of the suspects.

Had Applicant's not been circumvented by suspects then Applicant's would have acquired these same benefits. The stock market loss to the Plaintiffs at the expense of the Plaintiffs is also calculated into the damages consideration.

The suspects ordered Steven Chu, Lachlan Seward, Carol Battershel, McKinsey and Deloitte Consulting, Kathy Zoi and other executives at the U.S. Department of Energy, to be placed into positions in the U.S. Department of Energy as shills on their behalf, to lie to and defraud the Applicants. All of the ATVM and LGP grant and loan funds from the U.S. Department of Energy had been secretly hard-wired and the distribution of it covertly arranged to go to the suspects stealth-ed stock covert ownership's revealed in the Panama Papers leaks, Wikileaks and Congressional investigations.

Thus, the applicants, who had superior technology, more customer orders, better value and provided less of a national security risk were defrauded into spending tens of millions of dollars on the applicant process via false promises and assurances of success which were already known to be lies from the first 2007 forward. The losses in time, expenses and time-to-market delays created by these fraudulent promises and assertions by the agents, in public office, covertly working for the suspects are calculated into these damages.

Applicant's are demanding from the U.S. Government, The California State Government and the individual suspect/Defendants; general damages according to proof; special damages according to proof; exemplary or punitive damages; For a preliminary injunction and a permanent injunction enjoining defendant and their/her agents, servants, and employees, and all persons acting under, in concert with, or for him/her from continuing to publish the above-described private facts about Plaintiffs; for costs of suit herein incurred; for such other further relief as the court may deem proper; and for an award of a percentage of suspect/Defendants gross revenue since inception wherein that revenue was derived from profits made from the use of, or interdiction of, Plaintiffs patented and trade secret products, services and technology which Defendants covertly acquired information about and copied for profit.

Forensic accounting based on Subpoenas against the suspects and attack providers, and further FBI support, will be required to finalize the amount but recent leaks and witness testimony confirm the veracity of these assumptions.

Thank you for your valued consideration in this matter."


Flashback (2013): Filmmaker Robert Greenwald tells Howard Kurtz about his new movie on Obama admin attempts to keep whistleblowers silent. (2:14)