Social Media, Security and Assumptions

I logged in to my Twitter account yesterday.

It was the first time in months that I’d been able to log in.

I could spin my experience as Twitter, Big Media, the Pixie-Leprechaun Cabal or whoever suppressing The Truth.

But I won’t. I’m pretty sure it was a technical glitch somewhere. Or maybe operator error. I’ve noticed that I sometimes read ‘sign up’ as ‘log in.’ Particularly late at night.

I’d probably have been able to log in the next day, week or month, while I was awake. But since a (free) social media management service I use was still connected to my Twitter account, I didn’t try. I didn’t need to.

But there’s still the matter of Twitter disconnecting me. Again, I could spin it as a deliberate act aimed at me.

Which strikes me as unreasonable. Spontaneous logouts happen. I wouldn’t have remembered this one, if it wasn’t for being unable to log back in. Until yesterday.

Again, I do not think that Twitter was blocking me.

But some folks in my country have had their social media access restricted. Assuming that what I see in the news is accurate.

Still, it could be worse.1

Myanmar; Washington, D.C. — and Freedom

(From Reuters, via BBC News, used w/o permission.)
(“Protesters in Yangon received support from thousands of residents, who clapped on doorsteps”
(BBC News))

Myanmar coup: Internet shutdown as crowds protest against military
BBC News (February 6, 2021)

“…A near-total internet blackout is in effect with connectivity falling to 16% of ordinary levels, said the monitoring group NetBlocks Internet Observatory….

“…The internet shutdown happened hours after the military had blocked access to Twitter and Instagram to stop people mobilising for protests. Facebook had been banned a day earlier.

“Many users had evaded the restrictions on social media by using virtual private networks (VPNs) but the more general blackout severely disrupted that….”

I don’t know nearly enough about the situation in Myanmar — or Washington, D.C. — to have an informed opinion. Maybe what’s happening is a matter of national security in both places.

Or maybe it’s a matter of “national security” as the term was perceived in my youth. In one, or the other, or both.

Either way, I see this as a chance to talk about freedom of speech.

Which, for starters, I do not think means “free to agree with me.”

I’ve talked about freedom, freedom of expression, and why spitting venom is a bad idea before. And frequently.

I’ll put links to some of that at or near the end of this journal entry.

None of what I say will make sense, likely enough, if I don’t recap one or two basic points.

Love and Respect

I’m a Catholic.

Loving God and my neighbor comes with the territory. So does seeing everyone as my neighbor. No exceptions. (Matthew 5:4344, 22:3640; Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31, 10:2537; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1789, 1825 …)

Make that trying to love God and neighbor. And acting like I mean it.

Easy? No. But it’s still a good idea.

Again, love matters. So does truth. (Catechism, 90, 144, 150 …)

And freedom to seek truth won’t work if we don’t have mutual respect and freedom of speech.

I can’t make everyone act nice. Even if I could, that wouldn’t be a good idea. And that’s another topic.

But showing respect for others, and acting as if I value their freedom to express ideas? That’s something I can do. Or try doing, at least.

There’s more to say about loving neighbors, using freedom responsibly and seeking truth. A lot more, including what two popes wrote:

I think this is a good-enough summary for today:

“…Moreover, man has a natural right to be respected. … He has a right to freedom in investigating the truth, and—within the limits of the moral order and the common good—to freedom of speech and publication, and to freedom to pursue whatever profession he may choose. He has the right, also, to be accurately informed about public events….”
(“Pacem in Terris,” 12, Pope Saint John XXIII (April, 11 1963))

When NASA ‘Went Black’

(From AllenMcC., via Wikimedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
(Two-dimensional illustration of an Alcubierre metric tensor.)

It’s been just shy of eight years since I missed another opportunity to panic.

March 18, 2013. I’d been looking through NASA’s discussions of ‘next generation’ and ‘beyond next generation’ propulsion technology.

Two documents caught my eye:

My habits include downloading information for later study.

Usually it’s not necessary. This time it was.

March 19, 2013. I went back to the NASA website.

NASA wasn’t there. Apart from a few polite statements that data was not available.

NASA had gone black.

Classic Science Fiction Thriller (or) Another SNAFU

I’ve read enough stories to recognize a classic science fiction thriller plot.

But I was pretty sure that folks at NASA hadn’t inadvertently leaked Top Secret Stardrive Documents. Cool as that might have been.

As it turns out, someone had hacked into United States government databases.

Information Technology folks couldn’t tell exactly how much had been accessed.

Someone higher in the administrative food chain realized that at least some of the compromised data shouldn’t be shared with everyone. And so the whole NASA website went offline. Along with other U.S. government sites.

The technology SNAFU was resolved, time passed and now the incident isn’t even a blip on the Internet. More accurately, I didn’t find references to it. Apart from what what I’d shared in the Blogger iteration of “A Catholic Citizen in America.”

One more thing. I said I’d share links to my take on freedom, freedom of expression and trying to make sense. So here they are:

1 Information, the Internet and (some) freedom:

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About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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