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Upon the Fortune of this Present Year | Monthly FIRE Portfolio Update - November 2019
My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate Upon the fortune of this present year Therefore my merchandise makes me not sad Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice (1596) This is my thirty-sixth portfolio update. I complete this update monthly to check my progress against my goals. Portfolio goals My objectives are to reach a portfolio of:
$1 598 000 by 31 December 2020. This should produce a passive income of about $67 000 (Objective #1) - Achieved
$1 980 000 by 31 July 2023, to produce a passive income equivalent to $83 000 (Objective #2)
Both of these are based on an expected average real return of 4.19 per cent, or a nominal return of 7.19 per cent, and are expressed in 2018 dollars. Portfolio summary Vanguard Lifestrategy High Growth Fund – $797 618 Vanguard Lifestrategy Growth Fund – $45 218 Vanguard Lifestrategy Balanced Fund – $81 294 Vanguard Diversified Bonds Fund – $109 367 Vanguard Australian Shares ETF (VAS) – $158 769 Vanguard International Shares ETF (VGS) – $28 471 Betashares Australia 200 ETF (A200) – $268 114 Telstra shares (TLS) – $2 057 Insurance Australia Group shares (IAG) – $9 996 NIB Holdings shares (NHF) – $8 100 Gold ETF (GOLD.ASX) – $98 376 Secured physical gold – $15 868 Ratesetter (P2P lending) – $16 915 Bitcoin – $128 630 Raiz app (Aggressive portfolio) – $17 535 Spaceship Voyager app (Index portfolio) – $2 377 BrickX (P2P rental real estate) – $4 418 Total portfolio value: $1 793 753 (+$33 713) Asset allocation Australian shares – 43.2% (1.8% under) Global shares – 22.9% Emerging markets shares – 2.4% International small companies – 3.2% Total international shares – 28.4% (1.6% under) Total shares – 71.6% (3.4% under) Total property securities – 0.2% (0.2% over) Australian bonds – 4.8% International bonds – 9.8% Total bonds – 14.6% (0.4% under) Gold – 6.4% Bitcoin – 7.2% Gold and alternatives – 13.5% (3.5% over) Presented visually, below is a high-level view of the current asset allocation of the portfolio. [Chart] Comments This month the value of the portfolio increased again by around $33 000 in total, building on the previous two months of growth. [Chart] The equity part of the portfolio has grown by around $50 000 to now reach over $1.25 million for the first time. This increase includes new contributions and the last part of the previous June distributions being 'averaged into' equity markets. The equity component of the portfolio has increased by around 40 per cent this calendar year. The only other major movement in the monthly value of the portfolio has been a sharp downward movement in the price of Bitcoin, and a small increase in the value of bond holdings. [Chart] The contributions this month went entirely into the Vanguard Australian shares ETF (VAS.ASX), to reduce the gap to both the overall target equity allocation, and to achieve the target split between Australian and global shares. From this month onwards I expect more regular variations in whether new contributions go to either Australian or global shares, based on keeping this target allocation constant. Charting errors and wrong bearings - the nature of long-term returns Over the last month, as the end destination starts to appear a little clearer in the distance, the issue of the nature of long-term returns has been front of mind. There is a strong literature and body of academic work around long-term equity return expectations. Much of this has informed my thinking, and has over time found its way into the corners of financial independence movement through the avenues of the so-called Trinity and Bengen '4 per cent' studies (pdf), and a range of calculators that use historical data to help guide investors expectations around feasible future returns. Yet, as I have noted before, future states of the world are not drawn from the same distribution as the past - or as the British writer G K Chesterton evocatively put it - 'wildness lies in wait'. Most often this issue is glided over neatly (including by myself) with assured sounding phrases such as 'based on history'. The works of Nassim Taleb, most particularly Fooled by Randomness, and The Black Swan, provide a fuller perspective on these issues. Recently though, reading a 2017 paper Stock Market Charts You Never Saw provided a unique and arresting view of their application to long-term return projections. The paper is long and detailed, but makes some fundamental points for consideration. It provides a challenging perspective on investment returns that falls almost completely out of mainstream discussions of the topic in the financial independence arena. To summarise, the paper highlights that:
Long-term average equity returns are just mean averages - While they have a stable property over the long-term, this is an inherent statistical property of these values being long-term averages of diverse sets of returns. They are not a reliable forward-looking promise of likely returns. In the words of the paper: 'history documents, but does not constrain'.
Time (in the market) does not always heal all wounds - Investors who spend their dividends and avoid market timing - in other words an average FI investor - can reasonably expect to encounter 30 year periods of low real returns, with US investors facing three such periods in the twentieth century alone.
Typical charts of long-term equity returns can be misleading - Through behavioural finance findings it is clear that presented with a chart showing a seemingly inevitable rising line of equity returns over a long-time frame, an impression of safety and inevitability can be created. The paper highlights a range of ways in which standard charts on equity returns can obscure important facets of investors actual experiences.
No investor actually experiences the longest set of historical returns - While it is comforting to know that equity returns have averaged (for example) six per cent over a century, or two, this information is not as relevant for an investor who is more likely to be invested in a discrete 30-50 year period in which deviations from historical averages can be significant.
One-off events should not be dismissed - While the temptation is continuously present to believe that events like the Great Depression could never happen again, careful review of equity returns yields some distinctly similar periods of sustained low or negative real returns.
Comparisons of bond and equity returns are often oversimplified - It is not an immutable truth that equities outperform bonds, at least when the US historical record is considered. Rather, a more complicated picture emerges of returns over long periods. Sometimes, equities have outperformed bonds, but at other times, bonds have out-performed equites.
As the paper notes: "When investment advisors counsel that stocks are the best bet for a long investment horizon, they should append the acknowledgement: “if my market timing is good.” When advisors argue for stocks over bonds, they should append the caveat “as long as you are not French, or Italian, or Japanese, or Swiss, and provided that the 20th century is a better guide to the future than the 19th century.” For real investors with their limited time horizons, who may reside anywhere in the world, there have been times when both stock recommendations were bad." The issue of the primacy of total returns, compared to income returns is also bracingly challenged with reference to the drawdown phase: Once portfolio accumulation ceases with retirement, portfolio income must be spent to live. Under those circumstances real price return, over short periods lasting two or three decades, becomes an important metric. By that measure, an investment in stocks has been dicey indeed. Usefully, the paper sets out (at the end) both conventional charts, and alternative representations of the same returns data, aimed at illustrating the hidden biases and properties of standard charts of market returns. In short, the paper poses challenges to many conventional investment tenets assumed to be true and widely repeated within financial independence discussions. Often these tenets are promoted with the sound and well-meaning goal of reducing new or existing investors caution or level of worry around possible falls in equity markets. The question this work implicitly poses is, in the process, are distorted expectations unintentionally being promoted? Drawing out the lessons - understanding and responding to risks What are the practical implications of this? The most obvious is to look closely at how data is presented and to think carefully about how the assumptions implicit in that presentation line up against ones own situation. Some other implications include:
Projections based on earning stable and uniform returns should be undertaken with caution - Multi-decade periods of low returns can happen, and mathematical models of compounding smooth returns don't capture their impacts.
By taking an equity position an investor is simply undertaking a probabilistic bet, with no guarantees - That is, equity investment over the long-term usually pays offs, but some risk is inescapable.
Diversification across markets and time represents a workable response to risk - Investing regularly and across geographic markets can help current investors capture some of the positive 'survivorship' bias that was denied to individual investors in many countries across the twentieth century.
In other words - to paraphrase Shakespeare's Antonio - not trusting ones ventures to one ship, place, or a fortune upon the present year. Progress Progress against the objectives, and the additional measures I have reached is set out below. Measure Portfolio All Assets Objective #1 – $1 598 000 (or $67 000 pa) 112.2% 153.0% Objective #2 – $1 980 000 (or $83 000 pa) 90.6% 123.5% Credit card purchases - $73 000 pa 103.0% 140.4% Total expenses - $89 000 pa 84.5% 115.1% Summary As the year begins to draw to a close, a restlessness to see its final outcomes, in dividends and portfolio growth presses itself forward. It is in fact a small echo of one of the strong temptations of the middle of the FI journey - a desire to wish away time itself. Some potential upcoming changes and uncertainties in work situation have added force to this temptation, forcing some thoughts about different potential balances between work and other elements of daily life could be. By distance, the intended journey is around ninety per cent over. At times this introduces both an elegiac quality to, and a premature desire to mark, possible 'lasts' along the journey. Yet the extraordinary current state of financial markets gives pause. Policy makers and advisors casually discuss negative rates and their implications, even as Australian and US equity markets hit new highs. In a sense, it feels a more psychologically testing time to be closer to my higher target allocation for equities than any time before. The diversification in the portfolio can be thought of as a series of small hedges against different potential futures playing out. By far, the largest probability (or potential future) at 75 per cent, is that the historical dominance of equity as a generator of real returns continues to function. The remainder of the portfolio can be seen in some ways as a offsetting hedge against large equity market falls, or some other disturbance in financial markets with negative implications for equity. At base, however, I remain comfortable with the 'balance of probabilities' implied in the target asset allocation. This month saw a new (v)blogger Mx Lauren join the Australian FI scene, as well as the suggestion by Money Magazine of a new 'simplified' retirement rule of thumb to consider. A further piece of fascinating reading was this piece by Ben Carlson in Fortune Magazine, explaining the key role of earnings growth in recent US market return. It posits that the recent strong performance of US equities is attributable to fundamental earnings growth, rather than simply an unjustified expansion in the price investors are willing to pay for that growth. This - in addition to Shakespeare's pre-modern enjoinment to diversify - is potentially another reason to not confine considerations to one market, and one place, as December distributions slowly drift into sight. The post, links and full charts can be seen here.
Imagine if there was one desk that all stories could cross so that, at 4am, a media plan could be decided upon and disseminated where all news outlets coordinated to set the goalposts of debate and hyper focused on specific issues to drive a narrative to control how you vote and how you spend money; where Internet shills were given marching orders in tandem to what was shown on television, printed in newspapers and spread throughout articles on the World Wide Web. https://i.imgur.com/Elnci0M.png In the past, we had Operation Mockingbird, where the program was supremely confident that it could control stories around the world, even in instructions to cover up any story about a possible “Yeti” sighting, should it turn out they were real. https://i.imgur.com/121LXqy.png If, in 1959, the government was confident in its ability to control a story about a Yeti, then what is their level of confidence in controlling stories, today? https://i.imgur.com/jQFVYew.png https://i.imgur.com/ZKMYGJj.png In fact, we have a recent example of a situation similar to the Yeti. When Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch met on the TARMAC to spike the Hillary email investigation, the FBI was so confident it wasn’t them, that their entire focus was finding the leaker, starting with searching within the local PD. We have documentation that demonstrates the state of mind of the confidence the upper levels of the FBI have when dealing with the media. https://i.imgur.com/IbjDOkI.png https://i.imgur.com/NH86ozU.png The marriage between mainstream media and government is a literal one and this arrangement is perfectly legal. https://i.imgur.com/OAd4vpf.png But, this problem extends far beyond politics; the private sector, the scientific community, even advice forums are shilled heavily. People are paid to cause anxiety, recommend people break up and otherwise sow depression and nervousness. This is due to a correlating force that employs “systems psychodynamics”, focusing on “tension centered” strategies to create “organizational paradoxes” by targeting people’s basic assumptions about the world around them to create division and provide distraction. https://i.imgur.com/6OEWYFN.png https://i.imgur.com/iG4sdD4.png https://i.imgur.com/e89Rx6B.png https://i.imgur.com/uotm9Cg.png https://i.imgur.com/74wt9tD.png In this day and age, it is even easier to manage these concepts and push a controlled narrative from a central figure than it has ever been. Allen & Co is a “boutique investment firm” that managed the merger between Disney and Fox and operates as an overseeing force for nearly all media and Internet shill armies, while having it’s fingers in sports, social media, video games, health insurance, etc. https://i.imgur.com/zlpBh3c.png https://i.imgur.com/e5ZvFFJ.png Former director of the CIA and Paul Brennan’s former superior George Tenet, holds the reigns of Allen & Co. The cast of characters involves a lot of the usual suspects. https://i.imgur.com/3OlrX7G.png
In 1973, Allen & Company bought a stake in Columbia Pictures. When the business was sold in 1982 to Coca-Cola, it netted a significant profit. Since then, Herbert Allen, Jr. has had a place on Coca-Cola's board of directors. Since its founding in 1982, the Allen & Company Sun Valley Conference has regularly drawn high-profile attendees such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch, Barry Diller, Michael Eisner, Oprah Winfrey, Robert Johnson, Andy Grove, Richard Parsons, and Donald Keough. Allen & Co. was one of ten underwriters for the Google initial public offering in 2004. In 2007, Allen was sole advisor to Activision in its $18 billion merger with Vivendi Games. In 2011, the New York Mets hired Allen & Co. to sell a minority stake of the team. That deal later fell apart. In November 2013, Allen & Co. was one of seven underwriters on the initial public offering of Twitter. Allen & Co. was the adviser of Facebook in its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp in February 2014. In 2015, Allen & Co. was the advisor to Time Warner in its $80 billion 2015 merger with Charter Communications, AOL in its acquisition by Verizon, Centene Corporation in its $6.8 billion acquisition of Health Net, and eBay in its separation from PayPal. In 2016, Allen & Co was the lead advisor to Time Warner in its $108 billion acquisition by AT&T, LinkedIn for its merger talks with Microsoft, Walmart in its $3.3 billion purchase of Jet.com, and Verizon in its $4.8 billion acquisition of Yahoo!. In 2017, Allen & Co. was the advisor to Chewy.com in PetSmart’s $3.35 billion purchase of the online retailer.
Previous conference guests have included Bill and Melinda Gates, Warren and Susan Buffett, Tony Blair, Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Allen alumnus and former Philippine Senator Mar Roxas, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, Quicken Loans Founder & Chairman Dan Gilbert, Yahoo! co-founder Jerry Yang, financier George Soros, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch, eBay CEO Meg Whitman, BET founder Robert Johnson, Time Warner Chairman Richard Parsons, Nike founder and chairman Phil Knight, Dell founder and CEO Michael Dell, NBA player LeBron James, Professor and Entrepreneur Sebastian Thrun, Governor Chris Christie, entertainer Dan Chandler, Katharine Graham of The Washington Post, Diane Sawyer, InterActiveCorp Chairman Barry Diller, Linkedin co-founder Reid Hoffman, entrepreneur Wences Casares, EXOR and FCA Chairman John Elkann, Sandro Salsano from Salsano Group, and Washington Post CEO Donald E. Graham, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and Oprah Winfrey.
https://i.imgur.com/VZ0OtFa.png George Tenet, with the reigns of Allen & Co in his hands, is able to single-handedly steer the entire Mockingbird apparatus from cable television to video games to Internet shills from a singular location determining the spectrum of allowable debate. Not only are they able to target people’s conscious psychology, they can target people’s endocrine systems with food and pornography; where people are unaware, on a conscious level, of how their moods and behavior are being manipulated. https://i.imgur.com/mA3MzTB.png
"The problem with George Tenet is that he doesn't seem to care to get his facts straight. He is not meticulous. He is willing to make up stories that suit his purposes and to suppress information that does not." "Sadly but fittingly, 'At the Center of the Storm' is likely to remind us that sometimes what lies at the center of a storm is a deafening silence."
https://i.imgur.com/YHMJnnP.png Tenet joined President-elect Bill Clinton's national security transition team in November 1992. Clinton appointed Tenet Senior Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council, where he served from 1993 to 1995. Tenet was appointed Deputy Director of Central Intelligence in July 1995. Tenet held the position as the DCI from July 1997 to July 2004. Citing "personal reasons," Tenet submitted his resignation to President Bush on June 3, 2004. Tenet said his resignation "was a personal decision and had only one basis—in fact, the well-being of my wonderful family—nothing more and nothing less. In February 2008, he became a managing director at investment bank Allen & Company. https://i.imgur.com/JnGHqOS.png We have the documentation that demonstrates what these people could possibly be doing with all of these tools of manipulation at their fingertips. The term for it is “covert political action” for which all media put before your eyes is used to serve as a veneer… a reality TV show facade of a darker modus operandum. https://i.imgur.com/vZC4D29.png https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/kent-csi/vol36no3/html/v36i3a05p_0001.htm
It is now clear that we are facing an implacable enemy whose avowed objective is world domination by whatever means and at whatever costs. There are no rules in such a game. Hitherto acceptable norms of human conduct do not apply. If the US is to survive, longstanding American concepts of "fair play" must be reconsidered. We must develop effective espionage and counterespionage services and must learn to subvert, sabotage and destroy our enemies by more clever, more sophisticated means than those used against us. It may become necessary that the American people be made acquainted with, understand and support this fundamentally repugnant philosophy.
Intelligence historian Jeffrey T. Richelson says the S.A. has covered a variety of missions. The group, which recently was reorganized, has had about 200 officers, divided among several groups: the Special Operations Group; the Foreign Training Group, which trains foreign police and intelligence officers; the Propaganda and Political Action Group, which handles disinformation; the Computer Operations Group, which handles information warfare; and the Proprietary Management Staff, which manages whatever companies the CIA sets up as covers for the S.A.
…Those operations we inaugurated in the years 1955-7 are still secret, but, for present purposes, I can say all that’s worth saying about them in a few sentences – after, that is, I offer these few words of wisdom. The ‘perfect’ political action operation is, by definition, uneventful. Nothing ‘happens’ in it. It is a continuing arrangement, neither a process nor a series of actions proceeding at a starting point and ending with a conclusion.
CIA FBI NSA Personnel Active in Scientology: https://i.imgur.com/acu2Eti.png When you consider the number of forces that can be contained within a single “political action group” in the form on a “boutique investment firm,” where all sides of political arguments are predetermined by a selected group of actors who have been planted, compromised or leveraged in some way in order to control the way they spin their message. https://i.imgur.com/tU4MD4S.png The evidence of this coordinated effort is overwhelming and the “consensus” that you see on TV, in sports, in Hollywood, in the news and on the Internet is fabricated.
Under the guise of a fake account a posting is made which looks legitimate and is towards the truth is made - but the critical point is that it has a VERY WEAK PREMISE without substantive proof to back the posting. Once this is done then under alternative fake accounts a very strong position in your favour is slowly introduced over the life of the posting. It is IMPERATIVE that both sides are initially presented, so the uninformed reader cannot determine which side is the truth. As postings and replies are made the stronger 'evidence' or disinformation in your favour is slowly 'seeded in.' Thus the uninformed reader will most likely develop the same position as you, and if their position is against you their opposition to your posting will be most likely dropped. However in some cases where the forum members are highly educated and can counter your disinformation with real facts and linked postings, you can then 'abort' the consensus cracking by initiating a 'forum slide.'
When you find yourself feeling like common sense and common courtesy aren’t as common as they ought to be, it is because there is a massive psychological operation controlled from the top down to ensure that as many people as possible are caught in a “tension based” mental loop that is inflicted on them by people acting with purpose to achieve goals that are not in the interest of the general population, but a method of operating in secret and corrupt manner without consequences. Notice that Jeffrey Katzenberg, of Disney, who is intertwined with Allen & Co funds the Young Turks. He is the perfect example of the relationship between media and politics.
Katzenberg has also been involved in politics. With his active support of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, he was called "one of Hollywood's premier political kingmakers and one of the Democratic Party's top national fundraisers."
Last week, former DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg’s new mobile entertainment company WndrCo was part of a $20 million funding round in TYT Network, which oversees 30 news and commentary shows covering politics, pop culture, sports and more. This includes the flagship “The Young Turks” program that streams live on YouTube every day. Other investors in the round included venture capital firms Greycroft Partners, E.ventures and 3L Capital, which led the round. This brings total funding for Young Turks to $24 million.
Hollywood activism long has been depicted as a club controlled by a handful of powerful white men: Katzenberg, Spielberg, Lear, David Geffen, Haim Saban and Bob Iger are the names most often mentioned. But a new generation of power brokers is ascendant, including J.J. Abrams and his wife, Katie McGrath, cited for their personal donations and bundling skills; Shonda Rhimes, who held a get-out-the-vote rally at USC's Galen Center on Sept. 28 that drew 10,000 people; CAA's Darnell Strom, who has hosted events for Nevada congresswoman Jacky Rosen and Arizona congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema; and former Spotify executive Troy Carter, who held three fundraisers for Maryland gubernatorial candidate Ben Jealous (Carter also was a fundraiser for President Obama).
Viacom, after splitting off from Les Moonves Les Moonves ' CBS , still holds Paramount Pictures, and that movie studio in December agreed to acquire DreamWorks SKG, the creative shop founded by the Hollywood triumvirate of Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg (a former exec at The Walt Disney Co.). DreamWorks Animation had been spun off into a separate company. Now it's time for Freston to make back some money--and who better to do a little business with than George Soros? The billionaire financier leads a consortium of Soros Strategic Partners LP and Dune Entertainment II LLC, which together are buying the DreamWorks library--a collection of 59 flicks, including Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, and American Beauty.
Among the more frequently mentioned G+ alternatives at the Google+ Mass Migration community, and others, is MeWe with over 250 mentions. The site bills itself as "The Next-Gen Social Network" and the "anti-Facebook": "No Ads, No Political Bias, No Spyware. NO BS. It is headed by professed Libertarian CEO Mark Weinstein. As the site reveals no public user-generated content to non-members, it's necessary to create an account in order to get a full impression. I thought I'd provide an overview based on recent explorations. This report leads of with background on the company, though readers may find the report and analysis of specific groups on the site of interest.
Founder & CEO Mark Weinstein. Co-Founder & Chief Scientist, Jonathan Wolfe (no longer with company). Weinstein previously founded SuperFamily and SuperFriends, "at the turn of the millennium". Weinstein's MeWe biography lists articles published by The Mirror (UK), Huffington Post, USA Today, InfoSecurity Magazine, Dark Reading, and the Nation. His media appearances include MarketWatch, PBS, Fox News, and CNN. He's also the author of several personal-success books. His Crunchbase bio is a repeat of the MeWe content.
Sir Tim Berners-Lee: Inventor of the World Wide Web.
Jack Canfield: Legendary Founder, Chicken Soup For The Soul.
John Friedman: Founding Partner, Easton Capital.
Cullen Hoback: Director, Terms and Conditions May Apply.
Dianne Morrison: Partner, MorrisonMcNabb, LLC.
Colin Sebastian: Director, Equity Research/Internet, RW Baird.
Brett Shevack: CEO, Brand Initiatives; Former Vice Chair, BBDO.
Marci Shimoff: author, Happy for No Reason.
Sherry Turkle: Professor, MIT; author Alone Together.
Ownership & Investment
MeWe is the dba of Sgrouples, a private for-profit early-stage venture company based in Los Angeles, though with a Mountain View HQ and mailing address, 11-50 employees, with $10m in funding over five rounds, and a $20m valuation as of 2016. Sgrouples, Inc., dba MeWe Trust & Safety - Legal Policy c/o Fenwick West 801 California Street Mountain View, CA 94041 Crunchbase Profile. Founded: 2012 (source) Secured $1.2M in seed funding in 2014. 2016 valuation: $20m (source] Backers:
John Friedman, venture capitalist, founder & MD, Easton Capital, New York, NY.
Do you have friends still on Facebook? Share this link with them about Facebook wanting their banking information - tell them to move to MeWe now! No Ads. No Spyware. No Political Agenda. No Bias Algorithms. No Shadow Banning. No Facial Recognition.
MeWe provide several policy-related links on the site:
California Disclosures -- Do Not Track, 3rd-party cookies, and California Privacy Rights.
Your Identity: We protect it to the extent the law allows
Linking to Third-Party Sites: These are your decisions and responsibilities
Security: HTTPS and Encryption
Terms of Service
The ToS addresses:
Allowable Content and Acceptable Use
Who Our Services are For
User Content Ownership
Misuse of Usernames, Page names, Group names
Fake Accounts (pseudonyms allowed, misleading is not)
More on Spam
Our Commitment to Data Security
MeWe Content Data
MeWe Log Data
Your Data Portability
Deleting Your Account -- Right to Erasure
MeWe Secret Chat
MeWe Invitations and "Add Automatically"
Additional Policies for Pages, Groups, and Events Notifications of Requests for Account Information
Guidelines for Law Enforcement Seeking Customer Data (Worldwide)
Ownership In and To the Site and Services
Effective: November 6, 2018.
The FAQ addresses:
What is MeWe (emphasises privacy)
The Politics of MeWe ("absolutely no political agenda")
How can MeWe be free and make money? (additional services/freemium)
Which devices is MeWe available on? (Android, iOS)
What content can I share on MeWe (photos, videos, documents, voice messages, privacy mail, chats, gifs, memes, doodles)
What are some unique features of MeWe?
Who can see the posts I share?
Can I delete my MeWe account and is it easy to do this?
This emphasises that people are social cratures and private people by right. The service offers the power of self expression under an umbrella of safety. It notes that our innermost thoughts require privacy. Under "We aspire...":
MeWe is here to empower and enrich your world. We challenge the status quo by making privacy, respect, and safety the foundations of an innovatively designed, easy-to-use social experience.
Totalling 182 words.
Privacy Bill of Rights
A ten-item statement of principles (possibly inspired by another document, it might appear):
You own your personal information & content. It is explicitly not ours.
You will never receive a targeted advertisement or 3rd party content based on what you do or say online. We think that's creepy.
You see every post in timeline order from your friends, family & groups. We do not manipulate, filter, or change the order of your content or what you see.
Permissions & privacy are your rights. You control them.
You control who can access your content.
You control what, if anything, others can see in member searches.
Your privacy means we do not share your personal information with anyone.
Your emojis are for you and your friends. We do not monitor or mine your data.
Your face is your business. We do not use facial recognition technology.
You have the right to delete your account and take your content with you at any time.
There are a few mentions of MeWe in the press, some listed on the company's website, others via web search.
The following articles are linked directly from MeWe's Press page:
The page also lists a "Privacy Revolution Required Reading" list of 20 articles all addressing Facebook privacy gaffes in the mainstream press (Wired, TechCrunch, Fortune, Gizmodo, The Guardian, etc.). There are further self-reported mentions in several of the company's PR releases over the years.
Facebook Alternative MeWe Raises $5.2M, Los Angeles Business Journal (July 7, 2018) "The latest round, as well as MeWe’s total $10 million in fundraising, was predominantly backed by celebrity investors, such as author Marci Shimoff, Rachel Roy, and Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com, which sold to Linkedin in 2015 for $1.5 billion. Jack Canfield, creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series, also invested in MeWe."
Is building a Facebook alternative worth the effort? MeWe thinks soVentureBeat (July 5, 2018) "[T]here are still companies hoping to make their mark in the social networking realm with “Facebook alternatives.” One of those is MeWe, a “next-generation” social network that positions itself as the anti-Facebook: “Your private life is not for sale. No ads. No Spyware. No BS,” its website proclaims." Continues to mention "modest $5.2 million" funding round. Also a "sister product", MeWePRO, a Slack competitor.
Startup MeWe Launches Free, 'No Ads' Social NetworkeWeek (March 16, 2016) "MeWe, a new network engineered with its users' data privacy built in, is betting that a lot of people will say yes to both of those questions. The Mountain View, Calif.-based startup, whose parent company is Sgrouples.com, launched its freely available social network out of beta March 9 with more than 200,000 members already using it.... Sir Tim Berners-Lee, co-architect of the World Wide Web, found out about MeWe on his own and approached the company about getting involved."
Facebook Alternative MeWe closes $5.2M Series A Yahoo/PR Newswire (July 5, 2018). "The investment brings MeWe's total funding to $10 million, to support the engineering of MeWe and the enterprise version MeWePRO.... The company has relied on high net worth individuals for all of its funding including Lynda Weinman, founder of Lynda.com ...; Marci Shimoff, a #1 New York Times bestselling author ...; Rachel Roy...; and Jack Canfield."
Exactis Data Leak 2018: 340 Million Records ExposedInvestorPlace (June 29, 2018) "'Today's cookies can link your mobile phone to your laptop, to your home monitoring devices, and much, much more. Creepy? Scary? Orwellian? Yes, yes, yes,' Mark Weinstein, the privacy expert and founder of social media company MeWe, told MarketWatch. 'So imagine that Exactis, like Facebook, knows everything about you — really.'"
MeWe Raises $3M in FundingFinSMEs (March 9, 2016) "Sgrouples, Inc., the Mountain View, CA-based developer of MeWe, a social network with neither ads nor tracking, raised $3m in funding."
This section is a basic rundown of the user-visible site technology.
The site is not natively accessible from a mobile Web browser as it is overlayed with a promotion for the mobile application instead. Selecting "Desktop View" in most mobile browsers should allow browser-based access.
There are both Android and iOS apps for MeWe. I've used neither of these, though the App store entries note:
MeWe Android 4.4 rating (13.1k ratings). Permissions: Contacts (read), Location (approximate/precise), SMS (receive), Phone (read status & identity), Photos/Media/Files (read, modify, & delete contents), Storage (read, modify, or delete), Camera (take pictures/videos), Microphone (record audio), Device ID & Call Info (read status & identity), and numerous elements under Other.
Crunchbase cites 209,220 mobile downloads over the past 30 days (via Apptopia), an 80.78% monthly growth rate, from Google Play.
Either selecting "View Desktop" or navigating with a Desktop browser to https://www.mewe.com your are presented with a registration screen, with the "About", "Privacy Bill of Rights", "MeWe Challenge", and a language selector across the top of the page. Information requested are first and last name, phone or email, and a password. Pseudonymous identities are permitted, though this isn't noted on the login screen. Returning members can use the "Member Log In" button. The uMatrix Firefox extension reveals no third-party content: all page elements are served from mewe.com, img.mewe.com, cdn.mewe.com, or ws.mewe.com. (In subsequent browsing, you may find third-party plugins from, for example, YouTube, for videos, or Giphy, for animated GIFs.) The web front-end is nginx. The site uses SSL v3, issued by DigiCert Inc. to Sgrouples, Inc.
The onboarding experience is stark. There is no default content presented. A set of unidentified icons spans the top of the screen, these turn out to be Home, Chats, Groups, Pages, and Events. New users have to, somehow, find groups or people to connect with, and there's little guidance as to how to do this.
Generally there is a three panel view, with left- and right-hand sidebars of largely navigational or status information, and a central panel with main content. There are also pop-up elements for chats, an omnipresent feature of the site. Controls display labels on some devices and/or resolutions. Controls do not provide tooltips for navigational aid.
My Cloud - Seamlessly organize all your content in My Cloud; it's your personal cloud. My Cloud offers an interactive dashboard for you to control everything you’ve posted or shared - making it simple to delete or reshare.
Unique profiles - Be yourself, free from any tracking and spying. Customize your profile for every group you create or join.
Voice integration (on any or all content) - Post pictures, videos, or documents and include a voice message. Respond to a shared post or just chat. MeWe’s voice integration works for you and your contacts throughout the entire platform.
Universal tagging - This is a new, convenient way to sort and organize all the content you receive and share, making it easy to find everything, anytime.
Enhanced permission control (patent issued) - Manage permissions on a granular level and decide exactly who sees what. You can also remove yourself from the search directory, make yourself invisible to other members online, and much more.
Much More – join MeWe today and take a look inside! MeWe is the next-gen social networking experience designed for you to have fun, stay in touch, collaborate, organize, and simplify.
A key aspect of any social network is its community. Some of the available or ascertained information on this follows.
Weinstein claims a "million+ following inside MeWe.com" on Twitter. The largest visible groups appear to have a maximum of around 15,000 members , for "Awesome gifs". "Clean Comedy" rates 13,350, and the largest open political groups, 11,000+ members. This compares to Google+ which has a staggering, though Android-registrations-inflated 3.3 billion profiles, and 7.9 million communities, though the largest of these come in at under 10 million members. It's likely that MeWe's membership is on the whole more more active than Google+'s, where generally-visible posting activity was limited to just over 9% of all profiles, and the active user base was well under 1% of the total nominal population.
MeWe do not publish active users (e.g., MUA / monthly active users) statistics.
MeWe is principally a group-oriented discussion site -- interactions take place either between individuals or within group contexts. Virtually all discovery is group-oriented. The selection and dynamics of groups on the site will likely strongly affect user experience, so exploring the available groups and their characteristics is of interest. "MeWe has over 60,000 open groups" according to its FAQ. The Open groups -- visible to any registered MeWe user, though not to the general public Web -- are browsable, though sections and topics must be expanded to view the contents: an overview isn't immediately accessible. We provide a taste here. A selection of ten featured topics spans the top of the browser. As I view these, they are:
Health & Fitness
Cars & Motorcycles
Fashion and Beauty
Specific groups may appear in multiple categories. The top Groups within these topics have, variously, 15,482, 7,738, 15,482 (dupe), 7,745, 8,223, 8,220, 1,713, 9,527, 2,716, and 1,516 members. Listings scroll at length -- the Music topic has 234 Groups, ranging in size from 5 to 5,738 members, with a median of 59, mean of 311.4, and a 90%ile of 743.5. Below this is a grid of topics, 122 in all, ranging from Activism to Wellness, and including among them. A selected sample of these topics, with top groups listed members in (parens), follows:
Activism: QAnon+++ (2,572), PATRIOT PREPPERS USA (2,430), Deplorables Republic (2,48), The War Drummer (1,898), Patriots for a United America. (1894), Anonymous (1,700).
Alternative Energy: Reiki, Crystals, and alternative healing (2,114), 💜Starseeds & Empaths💜 (345), Living in Colour (365).
Alternative Lifestyle: Natural Healing and Home Remedies (3,045), Backyard Farming of All Things (2,696), WeTheSheeple (2,251).
Alumni Connections: Google Plus Refugees (271), Google+ Refugees (186), Frog Pond (156), Carlsbad NM High School alumni (57).
Animals: I Love My Dog (4,421), Pussy Shots (4,619).
Astronomy: Spherical Earth Truth, Flat Earth is Wrong (278), Nibiru, Nemesis, Hercolobus, The Destroyer (187).
Biology: Trees (344), Field of Birds (104), Patriots of Australia (51).
Personal Improvement: For Introverts. (1,214), Anarchy, Philosophy, Psychology, and Spirituality (679), Positive Affirmations (447).
Philosophy: In5d Esoteric Metaphysical and Spiritual Database (1,764), Thought Bouncing (1,137), Obtectivists - Galts Gulch - Ayn Rand fans (561).
Poetry: Dead Poest (1,407), Palacio de Poetry (451), Poets Corner (412).
Politics: Donald J. Trump 2016 - Present (11,486), The Conservative's Hangout (8,345), Qanon Follow The White Rabbit (5,600), Drain The Swamp (4,978), Libertarians (4,528), United We Stand Trump2020 (4,216).
Pop Culture: The Loftus Party (116), The Walking Dead: The Stalking Dead (100), Tyler, Texas (71).
Privacy: Join the Open/Privacy Movement (3974), Kingsport tn gun trader (1,157), Safer Computing (555).
To be clear: whilst I've not included every topic, I've sampled a majority of them above, and listed not an arbitrary selection, but the top few Groups under each topic.
Google Plus expats (1,862)
Google+ Refugees (186)
G+ Refugees (101)
my Google+ expatriates
The Google Plus expats group seems the most active of these by far.
It's curious that MeWe make a specific point in their FAQ that:
At MeWe we have absolutely no political agenda and we have a very straightforward Terms of Service. MeWe is for all law-abiding people everywhere in the world, regardless of political, ethnic, religious, sexual, and other preferences.
There are 403 political groups on MeWe. I won't list them all here, but the first 100 or so give a pretty clear idea of flavour. Again, membership is in (parentheses). Note that half the total political Groups memberships are in the first 21 groups listed here, the first 6 are 25% of the total.
Donald J. Trump 2016 - Present (11486)
The Conservative's Hangout (8345)
Qanon Follow The White Rabbit (5600)
Drain The Swamp (4978)
United We Stand Trump2020 (4216)
The Right To Self Defense (3757)
Alternative Media (3711)
Hardcore Conservative Patriots for Trump (3192)
Bastket Of Deplorables4Trump! (3032)
Return of the Republic (2509)
Infowars Chat Room Unofficial (2159)
Donald Trump Our President 2017-2025 (2033)
Berners for Progress (1963)
Sean Hannity Fans (1901)
The American Conservative (1839)
I Am The NRA (1704)
Tucker Carlson Fox News (1645)
We Love Donald Trump (1611)
MAGA - Make America Great Again (1512)
news from the front (1337)
Basket of Deplorables (1317)
Payton's Park Bench (1283)
Convention of States (1282)
Britons For Brexit (1186)
MoJo 5.0 Radio (1180)
MeWe Free Press (1119)
The Constitutionally Elite (1110)
WOMEN FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP (1032)
AMERICANS AGAINST ISIS and OTHER ENEMIES (943)
#WalkAway Campaign (894)
ALEX JONES (877)
The Lion Is Awake ! (854)
We Support Donald Trump! (810)
The Stratosphere Lounge (789)
TRUMP-USA-HANDS OFF OUR PRESIDENT (767)
Official Tea Party USA (749)
Mojo50 Jackholes (739)
Yes Scotland (697)
"WE THE DEPLORABLE" - MOVE ON SNOWFLAKE! (688)
Judge Jeanine Pirro Fans (671)
Ted Cruz for President (650)
No Lapdog Media (647)
Q Chatter (647)
Daily Brexit (636)
Tucker Carlson Fox News (601)
The Trumps Storm Group (600)
QAnon-Patriots WWG1WGA (598)
100% American (569)
Ladies For Donald Trump (566)
Deep State (560)
In the Name of Liberty (557)
Material Planet (555)
Trump NRA Free Speech Patriots on MeWe Gab.ai etc (546)
Magna Carta Group (520)
Constitutional Conservatives (506)
Question Everything (503)
Conspiracy Research (500)
Bill O'Reilly Fans (481)
Conservative Misfit's (479)
Canadian politics (478)
HARDCORE DEPLORABLES (454)
Tampa Bay Trump Club (445)
UK Politics (430)
Bongino Fan Page (429)
Radical Conservatives (429)
RESIST THE RESISTANCE (419)
The Deplorables (409)
America's Freedom Fighters (401)
Politically Incorrect & Proud (399)
CONSERVATIVES FOR AMERICA ! (385)
Political satire (383)
RISE OF THE RIGHT (371)
UK Sovereignty,Independence,Democracy -Everlasting (366)
The Patriots Voting Coalition (359)
End The Insanity (349)
Coming American Civil War! (345)
Constitutional Conservatives (343)
United Nations Watch (342)
A Revival Of The Critical Thinking Union (337)
The New Libertarian (335)
Libertarian Party (official ) (333)
DDS United (Duterte Die-hard Supporters) (332)
American Conservative Veterans (331)
America Needs Donald Trump (326)
The UKIP Debating Society (321)
Coalition For Trump (310)
FRIENDS THAT LIKE JILL STEIN AND THE GREEN PARTY (292)
2nd Amendment (287)
Never Forget #SethRich (286)
Green Party Supporters 2020 (283)
It seems there is relatively little representation from the left wing, or even the centre, of the political spectrum. A case-insensitive match for "liberal" turns up:
104: Conservatives Against Liberal Beliefs C.A.L.I.B (273)
184: Progressive and Liberal Politics (119)
301: Liberalism is a Mental Disorder (33)
302: Resistance Against Liberal Socialism (33)
358: NOT For Liberals (17)
367: Drinking Liberally Houston (14)
400: Stephanie Miller's Sexy Liberal Army (6)
Mainstream political parties are little represented, though again, the balance seems skewed searching on "(democrat|republic|gop)":
391: Saving The Republic: Video News & Opinion (8)
The terms "left" and "right" provide a few matches, not all strictly political-axis aligned:
7: The Right To Self Defense (3757)
80: RISE OF THE RIGHT (371)
150: POLITICS ON THE LEFT (156)
157: 1st Amendment Rights Protected By The 2nd Amendmen (141)
209: On The Left With Jeremy Corbyn (84)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
300: Gather Left (33)
385: Defend Washington State Gun Rights (9)
390: Left Coast Conservatives (8)
Socialism and Communism also warrant a few mentions:
121: Revolutionary Socialists United (204)
216: Socialist Thought (79)
220: Stories Of Communism (76)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
288: Snuggly Wuggly Socialists (38)
302: Resistance Against Liberal Socialism (33)
And there are some references to green, laboulabor parties:
97: FRIENDS THAT LIKE JILL STEIN AND THE GREEN PARTY (292)
100: Green Party Supporters 2020 (283)
262: Eyes-Left Labour & PP - Social Media (49)
320: Green Party of Ohio Issues & Discussion Group (29)
Whilst there may not be a political agenda, there does appear to be at least a slight political bias to the site. And a distinctive skew on many other topical subjects. Those seeking new homes online may wish to take this into account.
Various typos and tagging corrections. 2018-11-29 - 30
Added G+MM references count for MeWe to lede paragraph. 2018-12-2
Blowing the lid off the CryptoNote/Bytecoin scam (with the exception of Monero) - Reformatted for Reddit
Original post by rethink-your-strategy on Bitcointalk.org here This post has been reformatted to share on Reddit. What once was common knowledge, is now gone. You want a quality history lesson? Share this like wildfire. August 15, 2014, 08:15:37 AM
I'd like to start off by stating categorically that the cryptography presented by CryptoNote is completely, entirely solid. It has been vetted and looked over by fucking clever cryptographers/developers/wizards such as gmaxwell. Monero have had a group of independent mathematicians and cryptographers peer-reviewing the whitepaper (their annotations are here, and one of their reviews is here), and this same group of mathematicians and cryptographers is now reviewing the implementation of the cryptography in the Monero codebase. Many well known Bitcoin developers have already had a cursory look through the code to establish its validity. It is safe to say that, barring more exotic attacks that have to be mitigated over time as they are invented/discovered, and barring a CryptoNote implementation making rash decisions to implement something that reduces the anonymity set, the CryptoNote currencies are all cryptographically unlinkable and untraceable. Two other things I should mention. I curse a lot when I'm angry (and scams like this make me angry). Second, where used my short date format is day/month/year (smallest to biggest). If you find this information useful, a little donation would go a long way. Bitcoin address is 1rysLufu4qdVBRDyrf8ZjXy1nM19smTWd.
The Alleged CryptoNote/Bytecoin Story
CryptoNote is a new cryptocurrency protocol. It builds on some of the Bitcoin founding principles, but it adds to them. There are aspects of it that are truly well thought through and, in a sense, quite revolutionary. CryptoNote claim to have started working on their project years ago after Bitcoin's release, and I do not doubt the validity of this claim...clearly there's a lot of work and effort that went into this. The story as Bytecoin and CryptoNote claim it to be is as follows: They developed the code for the principles expressed in their whitepaper, and in April, 2012, they released Bytecoin. All of the copyright messages in Bytecoin's code are "copyright the CryptoNote Developers", so clearly they are one and the same as the Bytecoin developers. In December 2012, they released their CryptoNote v1 whitepaper. In September 2013, they released their CryptoNote v2 whitepaper. In November 2013, the first piece of the Bytecoin code was first pushed to Github by "amjuarez", with a "Copyright (c) 2013 amjuarez" copyright notice. This was changed to "Copyright (c) 2013 Antonio Juarez" on March 3rd, 2014. By this juncture only the crypto libraries had been pushed up to github. Then, on March 4th, 2014, "amjuarez" pushed the rest of the code up to github, with the README strangely referring to "cybernote", even though the code referred to "Cryptonote". The copyrights all pointed to "the Cryptonote developers", and the "Antonio Juarez" copyright and license file was removed. Within a few days, "DStrange" stumbled across the bytecoin.org website when trying to mine on the bte.minefor.co.in pool (a pool for the-other-Bytecoin, BTE, not the-new-Bytecoin, BCN), and the rest is history as we know it. By this time Bytecoin had had a little over 80% of its total emission mined.
Immediate Red Flags
The first thing that is a red flag in all of this is that nobody, and I mean no-fucking-body, is a known entity. "Antonio Juarez" is not a known entity, "DStrange" is not a known entity, none of the made up names on the Bytecoin website exist (they've since removed their "team" page, see below), none of the made up names on the CryptoNote website exist (Johannes Meier, Maurice Planck, Max Jameson, Brandon Hawking, Catherine Erwin, Albert Werner, Marec Plíškov). If they're pseudonyms, then say so. If they're real names, then who the fuck are they??? Cryptographers, mathematicians, and computer scientists are well known - they have published papers or at least have commented on articles of interest. Many of them have their own github repos and Twitter feeds, and are a presence in the cryptocurrency community. The other immediate red flag is that nobody, and I mean no-fucking-body, had heard of Bytecoin. Those that had heard of it thought it was the crummy SHA-256 Bitcoin clone that was a flop in the market. Bytecoin's claim that it had existed "on the deep web" for 2 years was not well received, because not a single vendor, user, miner, drug addict, drug seller, porn broker, fake ID card manufacturer, student who bought a fake ID card to get into bars, libertarian, libertard, cryptographer, Tor developer, Freenet developer, i2p developer, pedophile, or anyone else that is a known person - even just known on the Internet - had ever encountered "Bytecoin" on Tor. Ever. Nobody.
Before I start with some conjecture and educated guesswork, I'd like to focus on an indisputable fact that obliterates any trust in both Bytecoin's and CryptoNote's bullshit story. Note, again, that I do not doubt the efficacy of the mathematics and cryptography behind CryptoNote, nor do I think there are backdoors in the code. What I do know for a fact is that the people behind CryptoNote and Bytecoin have actively deceived the Bitcoin and cryptocurrency community, and that makes them untrustworthy now and in the future. If you believe in the fundamentals in CryptoNote, then you need simply use a CryptoNote-derived cryptocurrency that is demonstrably independent of CryptoNote and Bytecoin's influence. Don't worry, I go into this a little later. So as discussed, there were these two whitepapers that I linked to earlier. Just in case they try remove them, here is the v1 whitepaper and the v2 whitepaper mirrored on Archive.org. This v1/v2 whitepaper thing has been discussed at length on the Bytecoin forum thread, and the PGP signature on the files has been confirmed as being valid. When you open the respective PDFs you'll notice the valid signatures in them: signature in the v1 whitepaper signature in the v2 whitepaper These are valid Adobe signatures, signed on 15/12/2012 and 17/10/2013 respectively. Here's where it gets interesting. When we inspect this file in Adobe Acrobat we get a little more information on the signature . Notice the bit that says "Signing time is from the clock on the signer's computer"? Now normally you would use a Timestamp Authority (TSA) to validate your system time. There are enough public, free, RFC 3161 compatible TSAs that this is not a difficult thing. CryptoNote chose not do this. But we have no reason to doubt the time on the signature, right guys? crickets . See these references from the v1 whitepaper footnotes? Those two also appear in the v2 whitepaperth. Neither of those two footnotes refer to anything in the main body of the v1 whitepaper's text, they're non-existent (in the v2 whitepaper they are used in text). The problem, though, is that the Bitcointalk post linked in the footnote is not from early 2012 (proof screenshot is authentic: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=196259.0) . May 5, 2013. The footnote is referencing a post that did not exist until then. And yet we are to believe that the whitepaper was signed on 12/12/2012! What sort of fucking fools do they take us for? A little bit of extra digging validates this further. The document properties for both the v1 whitepaper as well as the v2 whitepaper confirms they were made in TeX Live 2013, which did not exist on 12/12/2012. The XMP properties are also quite revealing XMP properties for the v1 whitepaper XMP properties for the v2 whitepaper According to that, the v1 whitepaper PDF was created on 10/04/2014, and the v2 whitepaper was created on 13/03/2014. And yet both of these documents were then modified in the past (when they were signed). Clearly the CryptoNote/Bytecoin developers are so advanced they also have a time machine, right? Final confirmation that these creation dates are correct are revealed those XMP properties. The properties on both documents confirm that the PDF itself was generated from the LaTeX source using pdfTeX-1.40.14 (the pdf:Producer property). Now pdfTeX is a very old piece of software that isn't updated very often, so the minor version (the .14 part) is important. . pdfTeX 1.40.14 pushed to source repo on Feb 14, 2014 . This version of pdfTeX was only pushed to the pdfTeX source repository on February 14, 2014, although it was included in a very early version of TeX Live 2013 (version 2013.20130523-1) that was released on May 23, 2013. The earliest mentions on the Internet of this version of pdfTeX are in two Stack Exchange comments that confirm its general availability at the end of May 2013 (here and here). The conclusion we draw from this is that the CryptoNote developers, as clever as they were, intentionally deceived everyone into believing that the CryptoNote whitepapers were signed in 2012 and 2013, when the reality is that the v2 whitepaper was created in March, 2014, and the v1 whitepaper haphazardly created a month later by stripping bits out of the v2 whitepaper (accidentally leaving dead footnotes in). Why would they create this fake v2 whitepaper in the first place? Why not just create a v1 whitepaper, or not even version it at all? The answer is simple: they wanted to lend credence and validity to the Bytecoin "2 years on the darkweb" claim so that everyone involved in CryptoNote and Bytecoin could profit from the 2 year fake mine of 82% of Bytecoin. What they didn't expect is the market to say "no thank you" to their premine scam.
And Now for Some Conjecture
As I mentioned earlier, the Bytecoin "team" page disappeared. I know it exists, because "AtomicDoge" referred to it as saying that one of the Bytecoin developers is a professor at Princeton. I called them out on it, and within a week the page had disappeared. Fucking cowards. That was the event that triggered my desire to dig deeper and uncover the fuckery. As I discovered more and more oddities, fake accounts, trolling, and outright falsehoods, I wondered how deep the rabbit hole went. My starting point was DStrange. This is the account on Bitcointalk that "discovered" Bytecoin accidentally a mere 6 days after the first working iteration of the code was pushed to Github, purely by chance when mining a nearly dead currency on a tiny and virtually unheard of mining pool. He has subsequently appointed himself the representative of Bytecoin, or something similar. The whole thing is so badly scripted it's worse than a Spanish soap opera...I can't tell who Mr. Gonzales, the chief surgeon, is going to fuck next. At the same time as DStrange made his "fuck me accidental discovery", another Bitcointalk account flared up to also "accidentally discover this weird thing that has randomly been discovered": Rias. What's interesting about both the "Rias" and "DStrange" accounts are their late 2013 creation date (October 31, 2013, and December 23, 2013, respectively), and yet they lay dormant until suddenly, out of the blue, on January 20th/21st they started posting. If you look at their early posts side by side you can even see the clustering: Rias, DStrange. At any rate, the DStrange account "discovering" Bytecoin is beyond hilarious, especially with the Rias account chiming in to make the discovery seem natural. Knowing what we unmistakably do about the fake CryptoNote PDF dates lets us see this in a whole new light. Of course, as has been pointed out before, the Bytecoin website did not exist in its "discovered" form until sometime between November 13, 2013 (when it was last captured as this random picture of a college girl) and February 25, 2014 (when it suddenly had the website on it as "discovered"). This can be confirmed by looking at the captures on Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://bytecoin.org The CryptoNote website, too, did not exist in its current form until after October 20, 2013, at which time it was still the home of an encrypted message project by Alain Meier, a founding member of the Stanford Bitcoin Group and co-founder of BlockScore. This, too, can be confirmed on Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/*/http://cryptonote.org ~It's hard to ascertain whether Alain had anything to do with CryptoNote or Bytecoin. It's certainly conceivable that the whitepaper was put together by him and other members of the Stanford Bitcoin Group, and the timeline fits, given that the group only formed around March 2013. More info on the people in the group can be found on their site, and determining if they played a role is something you can do in your own time.~ Update: Alain Meier posted in this thread, and followed it up with a Tweet, confirming that he has nothing to do with CryptoNote and all the related...stuff.
The Bytecoin guys revel in creating and using sockpuppet accounts. Remember that conversation where "Rias" asked who would put v1 on a whitepaper with no v2 out, and AlexGR said "a forward looking individual"? The conversation took place on May 30, and was repeated verbatim by shill accounts on Reddit on August 4 (also, screenshot in case they take it down). Those two obvious sockpuppet/shill accounts also take delight in bashing Monero in the Monero sub-reddit (here are snippets from WhiteDynomite and cheri0). Literally the only thing these sockpuppets do, day in and day out, is make the Bytecoin sub-reddit look like it's trafficked, and spew angry bullshit all over the Monero sub-reddit. Fucking batshit insane - who the fuck has time for that? Clearly they're pissy that nobody has fallen for their scam. Oh, and did I mention that all of these sockpuppets have a late January/early February creation date? Because that's not fucking obvious at all. And let's not forget that most recently the sockpuppets claimed that multi-sig is "a new revolutionary technology, it was discovered a short time ago and Bytecoin already implemented it". What the actual fuck. If you think that's bad, you're missing out on the best part of all: the Bytecoin shills claim that Bytecoin is actually Satoshi Nakamoto's work. I'm not fucking kidding you. For your viewing pleasure...I present to you...the Bytecoin Batshit Insane Circus: . https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=512747.msg8354977#msg8354977 . Seriously. Not only is this insulting as fuck to Satoshi Nakamoto, but it's insulting as fuck to our intelligence. And yet the fun doesn't stop there, folks! I present to you...the centerpiece of this Bytecoin Batshit Insane Circus exhibit... . Of course! How could we have missed it! The clues were there all along! The CryptoNote/Bytecoin developers are actually aliens! Fuck me on a pogostick, this is the sort of stuff that results in people getting committed to the loony bin. One last thing: without doing too much language analysis (which is mostly supposition and bullshit), it's easy to see common grammar and spelling fuck ups. My personal favorite is the "Is it true?" question. You can see it in the Bytecoin thread asking if it's Satoshi's second project, in the Monero thread asking if the Monero devs use a botnet to fake demand, and in the Dashcoin thread confirming the donation address (for a coin whose only claim is that they copy Bytecoin perfectly, what the fuck do they need donations for??).
Layer After Layer
All Tied Up in a Bow
I want to cement the relationship between the major CryptoNote shitcoins. I know that my previous section had a lot of conjecture in it, and there's been some insinuation that I'm throwing everyone under the bus because I'm raging against the machine. That's not my style. I'm more of a Katy Perry fan..."you're going to hear me roar". There were some extra links I uncovered during my research, and I lacked the time to add it to this post. Thankfully a little bit of sleep and a can of Monster later have given me the a chance to add this. Let's start with an analysis of the DNS records of the CN coins. If we look at the whois and DNS records for bytecoin.org, quazarcoin.org, fantomcoin.org, monetaverde.org, cryptonote.org, bytecoiner.org, cryptonotefoundation.org, cryptonotestarter.org, and boolberry.com, we find three common traits, from not-entirely-damming to oh-shiiiiiiit:
There's a lot of commonality with the registrar (NameCheap for almost all of them), the DNS service (HurricaneElectric's Free DNS or NameCheap's DNS), and with the webhost (LibertyVPS, QHosteSecureFastServer.com, etc.)
All of the CN domains use WhoisGuard or similar private registration services.
Every single domain, without exception, uses Zoho for email. The only outlier is bitmonero.org that uses Namecheap's free email forwarding, but it's safe to disregard this as the emails probably just forward to the CryptoNote developers' email.
The instinct may be to disregard this as a fucking convenient coincidence. But it isn't: Zoho used to be a distant second go Google Apps, but has since fallen hopelessly behind. Everyone uses Google Apps or they just use mail forwarding or whatever. With the rest of the points as well, as far-fetched as the link may seem, it's the combination that is unusual and a dead giveaway of the common thread. Just to demonstrate that I'm not "blowing shit out of proportion" I went and checked the records for a handful of coins launched over the past few months to see what they use. darkcoin.io: mail: Namecheap email forwarding, hosting: Amazon AWS, open registration through NameCheap monero.cc: mail: mail.monero.cc, hosting: behind CloudFlare, open registration through Gandi xc-official.com: mail: Google Apps, hosting: MODX Cloud, hidden registration (DomainsByProxy) through GoDaddy blackcoin.io: mail: Namecheap email forwarding, hosting: behind BlackLotus, open registration through NameCheap bitcoindark.org: mail: no MX records, hosting: Google User Content, open registration through Wix viacoin.org: mail: mx.viacoin.org, hosting: behind CloudFlare, closed registration (ContactPrivacy) through Hostnuke.com neutrinocoin.org: mail: HostGator, hosting: HostGator, open registration through HostGator There's no common thread between them. Everyone uses different service providers and different platforms. And none of them use Zoho. My next check was to inspect the web page source code for these sites to find a further link. If you take a look at the main CSS file linked in the source code for monetaverde.org, fantomcoin.org, quazarcoin.org, cryptonotefoundation.org, cryptonote-coin.org, cryptonote.org, bitmonero.org, and bytecoiner.org, we find a CSS reset snippet at the top. It has a comment at the top that says "/* CSS Reset /", and then where it resets/sets the height it has the comment "/ always display scrollbars */". Now, near as I can find, this is a CSS snipped first published by Jake Rocheleau in an article on WebDesignLedger on October 24, 2012 (although confusingly Google seems to think it appeared on plumi.de cnippetz first, but checking archive.org shows that it was only added to that site at the beginning of 2013). It isn't a very popular CSS reset snippet, it got dumped in a couple of gists on Github, and translated and re-published in an article on a Russian website in November, 2012 (let's not go full-blown conspiritard and assume this links "cryptozoidberg" back to this, he's culpable enough on his own). It's unusual to the point of being fucking impossible for one site to be using this, let alone a whole string of supposedly unrelated sites. Over the past few years the most popular CSS reset scripts have been Eric Meyer's "Reset CSS", HTML5 Doctor CSS Reset, Yahoo! (YUI 3) Reset CSS, Universal Selector ‘’ Reset, and Normalize.css, none of which contain the "/ CSS Reset /" or "/ always display scrollbars */" comments. You've got to ask yourself a simple question: at what point does the combination of all of these fucking coincidental, completely unusual elements stop being coincidence and start becoming evidence of a real, tenable link? Is it possible that bytecoin.org, quazarcoin.org, fantomcoin.org, monetaverde.org, cryptonote.org, bytecoiner.org, cryptonotefoundation.org, cryptonotestarter.org, and boolberry.com just happen to use similar registrars/DNS providers/web hosts and exactly the fucking same wildly unpopular email provider? And is it also possible that monetaverde.org, fantomcoin.org, quazarcoin.org, cryptonotefoundation.org, cryptonote-coin.org, cryptonote.org, and bytecoin.org just happen to use the same completely unknown, incredibly obscure CSS reset snippet? It's not a conspiracy, it's not a coincidence, it's just another piece of evidence that all of these were spewed out by the same fucking people.
The Conclusion of the Matter
Don't take the last section as any sort of push for Monero. I think it's got potential (certainly much more than the other retarded "anonymous" coins that "developers" are popping out like street children from a cheap ho), and I hold a bit of XMR for shits and giggles, so take that tacit endorsement with a pinch of fucking salt. The point is this: Bytecoin's 82% premine was definitely the result of a faked blockchain. CryptoNote's whitepaper dates were purposely falsified to back up this bullshit claim. Both Bytecoin and CryptoNote have perpetuated this scam by making up fake website data and all sorts. They further perpetuate it using shill accounts, most notably "DStrange" and "Rias" among others. They launched a series of cryptocurrencies that should be avoided at all cost: Fantomcoin, Quazarcoin, and Monetaverde. They are likely behind duckNote and Boolberry, but fuck it, it's on your head if you want to deal with scam artists and botnet creators. They developed amazing technology, and had a pretty decent implementation. They fucked themselves over by being fucking greedy, being utterly retarded, being batshit insane, and trying to create legitimacy where there was none. They lost the minute the community took Monero away from them, and no amount of damage control will save them from their own stupidity. I expect there to be a fuck-ton of shills posting in this thread (and possibly a few genuine supporters who don't know any better). If you want to discuss or clarify something, cool, let's do that. If you want to have a protracted debate about my conjecture, then fuck off, it's called conjecture for a reason you ignoramus. I don't really give a flying fuck if I got it right or wrong, you're old and ugly enough to make up your own mind. tl;dr - CryptoNote developers faked dates in whitepapers. Bytecoin faked dates in fake blockchain to facilitate an 82% premine, and CryptoNote backed them up. Bytecoin, Fantomcoin, Quazarcoin, Monetaverde, Dashcoin are all from the same people and should be avoided like the fucking black plague. duckNote and Boolberry are probably from them as well, or are at least just fucking dodgy, and who the fuck cares anyway. Monero would have been fucking dodgy, but the community saved it. Make your own mind up about shit and demand that known people are involved and that there is fucking transparency. End transmission. Just a reminder that if you found this information useful, a little donation would go a long way. Bitcoin address is 1rysLufu4qdVBRDyrf8ZjXy1nM19smTWd.
Gregory Maxwell /u/nullc has evidently never heard of terms like "the 1%", "TPTB", "oligarchy", or "plutocracy", revealing a childlike naïveté when he says: "‘Majority sets the rules regardless of what some minority thinks’ is the governing principle behind the fiats of major democracies."
UPDATE: This post was inspired by a similar previous post which also has lots of great points, but the current post has a slightly different focus because: (1) This post assumes ignorance (not dishonesty) on the part of nullc. (2) This post basically gives a list of a bunch of sources on Wikipedia talking about oligarchy and plutocracy, as a starting point for anyone interested in this stuff. Gregory Maxwell nullc has repeatedly shown that he has a very weak grasp of the political and economic realities shaping our world today. He should not be (actually nobody should be) in charge of setting major economic policies and parameters (eg money velocity aka "max blocksize") for the most important non-state-based currency in the history of humanity (Bitcoin). Are serious investors and businesspeople going to believe in a new currency whose economic parameters (eg money velocity aka "max blocksize") are centrally planned by a private for-profit corporation Blockstream whose CTO and CEO (Gregory Maxwell nullc and Adam Back adam3us) have repeatedly shown that they are totally clueless when it comes to markets and economics? I don't even know where to begin to school this guy on the reality of politics and economics in the world today. It would take literally years of reading up on events in the mainstream media and online in order for him to get familiar enough with this stuff to stop blurting out ridiculously ignorant statements like:
"Majority sets the rules regardless of what some minority thinks" is the governing principle behind the fiats of major democracies.
Some contemporary authors have characterized current conditions in the United States as oligarchic in nature. Simon Johnson wrote that "the reemergence of an American financial oligarchy is quite recent," a structure which he delineated as being the "most advanced" in the world. Jeffrey A. Winters wrote that "oligarchy and democracy operate within a single system, and American politics is a daily display of their interplay." Bernie Sanders,opined in a 2010 The Nation article that an "upper-crust of extremely wealthy families are hell-bent on destroying the democratic vision of a strong middle-class … In its place they are determined to create an oligarchy in which a small number of families control the economic and political life of our country." The top 1% in 2007 had a larger share of total income than at any time since 1928. In 2011, according to PolitiFact and others, the top 400 wealthiest Americans "have more wealth than half of all Americans combined." French economist Thomas Piketty states in his 2013 book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, that "the risk of a drift towards oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism about where the United States is headed." A study conducted by political scientists Martin Gilens of Princeton University, and Benjamin Page of Northwestern University, was released in April 2014, which stated that their "analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts." It also suggested that "Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise." Gilens and Page do not characterize the US as an "oligarchy" per se; however, they do apply the concept of "civil oligarchy" as used by Jeffrey Winters with respect to the US. Winters has posited a comparative theory of "oligarchy" in which the wealthiest citizens – even in a "civil oligarchy" like the United States – dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection. Gilens says that average citizens only get what they want if economic elites or interest groups also want it; that is, economic elites and interest groups are influential. ... In a 2015 interview, former President Jimmy Carter stated that the United States is now "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery," due to the Citizens United ruling, which effectively removed limits on donations to political candidates.
It used to be that citizens in large numbers, mobilized by labor unions or political parties or a single uniting cause, determined the course of American politics. After World War II, a swelling middle class was the most powerful voting bloc, while, in those same decades, the working and middle classes enjoyed comparatively greater economic prosperity than their wealthy counterparts. Kiss all that goodbye. We're now a country run by rich people.
Winters conceives of oligarchy not as rule by the few, but as a kind of minority power created by great concentrations of material wealth. Compatible with a wide range of regimes, oligarchy can co-exist and even be “fused” with democracy as it is today in the United States.
The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.
While the middle class disappears and more Americans fall into poverty, the wealthiest people in our country are using their wealth and political power to protect their privileged status at everyone else's expense.
"Right now, this afternoon, just 400 Americans -- 400 -- have more wealth than half of all Americans combined," Moore avowed to tens of thousands of protesters. "Let me say that again. And please, someone in the mainstream media, just repeat this fact once; we’re not greedy, we’ll be happy to hear it just once. "Four hundred obscenely wealthy individuals ... -- most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion-dollar taxpayer bailout of 2008 -- now have more cash, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined."
America is not broke. Contrary to what those in power would like you to believe so that you'll give up your pension, cut your wages, and settle for the life your great-grandparents had, America is not broke. Not by a long shot. The country is awash in wealth and cash. It's just that it's not in your hands. It has been transferred, in the greatest heist in history, from the workers and consumers to the banks and the portfolios of the uber-rich. Today just 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined. Let me say that again. 400 obscenely rich people, most of whom benefited in some way from the multi-trillion dollar taxpayer "bailout" of 2008, now have more loot, stock and property than the assets of 155 million Americans combined. If you can't bring yourself to call that a financial coup d'état, then you are simply not being honest about what you know in your heart to be true.
Capital in the Twenty-First Century is a 2013 book by French economist Thomas Piketty. It focuses on wealth and income inequality in Europe and the United States since the 18th century. It was initially published in French (as Le Capital au XXIe siècle) in August 2013; an English translation by Arthur Goldhammer followed in April 2014. The book's central thesis is that when the rate of return on capital (r) is greater than the rate of economic growth (g) over the long term, the result is concentration of wealth, and this unequal distribution of wealth causes social and economic instability.
Each of four theoretical traditions in the study of American politics—which can be characterized as theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy, Economic-Elite Domination, and two types of interest-group pluralism, Majoritarian Pluralism and Biased Pluralism—offers different predictions about which sets of actors have how much influence over public policy: average citizens; economic elites; and organized interest groups, mass-based or business-oriented. Multivariate analysis indicates that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence. The results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.
Former President Jimmy Carter had some harsh words to say about the current state of America's electoral process, calling the country "an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery" resulting in "nominations for president or to elect the president." When asked this week by The Thom Hartmann Program (via The Intercept) about the Supreme Court's April 2014 decision to eliminate limits on campaign donations, Carter said the ruling "violates the essence of what made America a great country in its political system."
When the Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz wrote the 2011 Vanity Fair magazine article entitled "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%", the title and content supported Stiglitz's claim that the United States is increasingly ruled by the wealthiest 1%. Some researchers have said the US may be drifting towards a form of oligarchy, as individual citizens have less impact than economic elites and organized interest groups upon public policy. A study conducted by political scientists Martin Gilens (Princeton University) and Benjamin Page (Northwestern University), which was released in April 2014, stated that their "analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts."
Links for the above references (footnotes) in the Wikipedia article on "Plutocracy":  Stiglitz Joseph E. "Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%" Vanity Fair, May 2011; see also the Democracy Now! interview with Joseph Stiglitz: Assault on Social Spending, Pro-Rich Tax Cuts Turning U.S. into Nation "Of the 1 Percent, by the 1 Percent, for the 1 Percent", Democracy Now! Archive, Thursday, April 7, 2011 http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2011/05/top-one-percent-201105
It’s no use pretending that what has obviously happened has not in fact happened. The upper 1 percent of Americans are now taking in nearly a quarter of the nation’s income every year. In terms of wealth rather than income, the top 1 percent control 40 percent.
America’s inequality distorts our society in every conceivable way. There is, for one thing, a well-documented lifestyle effect—people outside the top 1 percent increasingly live beyond their means. Trickle-down economics may be a chimera, but trickle-down behaviorism is very real. Inequality massively distorts our foreign policy. The top 1 percent rarely serve in the military—the reality is that the “all-volunteer” army does not pay enough to attract their sons and daughters, and patriotism goes only so far. Plus, the wealthiest class feels no pinch from higher taxes when the nation goes to war: borrowed money will pay for all that. Foreign policy, by definition, is about the balancing of national interests and national resources. With the top 1 percent in charge, and paying no price, the notion of balance and restraint goes out the window. There is no limit to the adventures we can undertake; corporations and contractors stand only to gain. The rules of economic globalization are likewise designed to benefit the rich: they encourage competition among countries for business, which drives down taxes on corporations, weakens health and environmental protections, and undermines what used to be viewed as the “core” labor rights, which include the right to collective bargaining. Imagine what the world might look like if the rules were designed instead to encourage competition among countries for workers. Governments would compete in providing economic security, low taxes on ordinary wage earners, good education, and a clean environment—things workers care about. But the top 1 percent don’t need to care.
 Piketty, Thomas (2014). Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Belknap Press. ISBN 067443000X p. 514: "the risk of a drift towards oligarchy is real and gives little reason for optimism about where the United States is headed." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capital_in_the_Twenty-First_Century  Gilens & Page (2014) Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens, Perspectives on Politics, Princeton University. Retrieved 18 April 2014. PDF! www.princeton.edu/~mgilens/Gilens%20homepage%20materials/Gilens%20and%20Page/Gilens%20and%20Page%202014-Testing%20Theories%203-7-14.pdf Finally, it is worth mentioning the notorious "Plutonomy" memo prepared by analysts at Citigroup: https://pissedoffwoman.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/the-plutonomy-reports-download/ Citigroup wrote memos in 2005 and 2006 addressed to investors, basically saying that the world is dividing up more and more into a small group of rich people who drive the economy, surrounded by a large number of poor people whose economic interests can be safely ignored. As the above links show, it is shockingly naïve for Gregory Maxwell u/nullc to claim that policies for fiat currencies are determined by "democracies". If he is this ignorant about the reality of so-called democracies and fiat currencies, one can only wonder how much other stuff he is ignorant about, in his ongoing misguided attempts to impose his own centralized economic planning on Bitcoin.
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Bitcoin Explained - A Simple Explanation - Easy To Understand Bitcoin Explained Video
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