Another email from indivisible: Stop ACA repeal and replace

The following is excerpted from an Indivisible email.

News just broke that two Republican Senators—Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah—will oppose TrumpCare. That means that Republicans DO NOT HAVE THE VOTES to pass the bill.

But let’s be clear: this fight isn’t over. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will pull out all the stops to pass an ACA repeal bill. In fact, after failing to get enough votes to pass this most recent version of TrumpCare, McConnell has now indicated he will try to ram through a straight repeal bill. This is a last-ditch effort—and the only thing that will finish TrumpCare off for good is a wave of constituent power.

Mitch McConnell will keep trying to gut the Affordable Care Act because he would rather cut taxes for billionaires than let 32 million people keep their health insurance—the number that would lose insurance with a full repeal. But every day we stop him is a victory. Stay in this fight with us.

Call your senators today to tell them not to repeal and replace.  5calls doesn’t have a script up yet (I will update later today), but you can just say:

“Hi, I’m calling from [your town and your zipcode], and I would like to request that Senator [name] vote NO on repealing and replacing the affordable care act.”

Here’s a link with phone numbers:  http://myreps.datamade.us/ and you can also google your senator’s name to find phone numbers for regional offices if you can’t get through to the DC office.

An urgent email from Indivisible re: AHCA

The following is an email from Indivisible

Just as a preface: we don’t normally send “Help! The house is on fire!” emails like this because they can seem fake and alarmist. But we feel the tone of this email accurately represents how dire the TrumpCare situation is right now. Forgive the urgency—we promise to do this rarely.

What’s in this “new” TrumpCare bill.

After weeks of total secrecy, this morning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the Senate TrumpCare bill. And what a cruel, ugly bill it is. It destroys Medicaid, it increases health costs for the middle-class families, it cuts coverage for pre-existing conditions, it eliminates funding for Planned Parenthood…and it does this all in order to green-light a massive tax cut for millionaires and billionaires. Oh, and it will likely get worse once it gets to the Senate floor.

But this isn’t over yet. Senate Republicans don’t have the votes…not yet. We have time to fight back, and it doesn’t matter if you have a Republican or Democratic Senator—you are needed in this fight. Here’s how to fight back.

People don’t realize how dire this is. We’re trying to get the word out to amp up public pressure on Congress NOW by launching a digital campaign to turn out more people against TrumpCare. Join us.
 Increase the pressure today 

How the TrumpCare fight will play out

Senate Republicans have promised a vote by the end of next week. But there are still several steps between now and passage of TrumpCare. Here’s how the former congressional staff at Indivisible Team think the fight will unfurl:

  • Tomorrow, we’ll get a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) score, which will quantify exactly how many millions of Americans will be screwed by this bill and in what ways.
  • On Monday or Tuesday, Republicans will officially announce the vote is happening by the end of the week and start debate on “the bill,” which is just a draft bill intended to make it look like they’re being transparent but in reality is a trick to hide just how awful their finished product will be.
  • Over the next couple days, Senators will submit amendments, most of which will fail and none of which would make this bill redeemable.
  • On Thursday, the Senate will plan to vote on the legislation, but first they will vote on all submitted amendments (known as “vote-a-rama”).
  • At the last possible minute, Senate Republicans will replace the entire bill they just got finished “debating” with an alternative TrumpCare bill secretly crafted behind closed doors.
  • By the end of Thursday, there will be a final vote in the Senate.
  • As soon as that same Thursday, the House may then pass the legislation and send it to Trump to sign. This could take longer, but this is the worst case scenario and quite possible.
  • Next weekend, one week of congressional recess begins. They’ll either have the bill done by then, or they’ll have to wait another week.

Throughout this process there will be precisely zero public hearings in the Senate. Make no mistake, this is a historically partisan, secretive, and undemocratic process for one of the most consequential pieces of legislation of our generation. This is atrocious.

So let’s fight it. All you need to pressure your Republican Senators, including DAILY scripts and new materials, is on our TrumpCareTen.org website. Need more background materials? We’ve got ‘em for you here. It’s critical that you’re showing up and that when you’re not showing up, you’re calling your Senators every single day.

TrumpCare Facebook Live tonight!

Join Indivisible for a special Facebook Live TONIGHT at 8:30pm ET. We’ll give an update on where the legislation stands and answer your TrumpCare questions.

Don’t like this TrumpCare bill? Help us amend it ASAP

Got a Democratic Senator? You’ve still got work to do. As mentioned above, one of the final stages of the TrumpCare bill is a little-known process known as “vote-a-rama” where ANY Senator can submit as many amendments as he or she wants. And here’s the thing: EVERY amendment takes time to be introduced and voted on. We’re collecting THOUSANDS of amendments and submitting them directly to Senate staff.

Please please please: submit your amendments here, and get your friends and family members to submit amendments. We know this is working already. Senators are reading these amendments on the Senate floor. But we need thousands more.

This is about applying your constituent power directly to the process. This tactic can delay the bill and make it more politically painful for Republicans to move forward. It’s not a silver bullet- McConnell and Senate Republicans can still blow up Senate rules and cut off the amendment process. But to do that they’ll have to go on the record literally silencing the victims of TrumpCare in their own states, which they really don’t want to visibly do.

We’re amping up the pressure, giving us money will help

Here’s the hard truth: McConnell’s strategy of secrecy is working. National and local press aren’t covering the TrumpCare fight, so fewer people know about it. That means there’s less public pressure on Congress, and it’s easier for Senate Republicans to move forward. If we drag this TrumpCare bill out into the light, it will rot. That’s our job right now.

We’re trying to get the word out ASAP. We’re running a comprehensive digital ad campaign around the country that’s reaching new people and producing roughly 1 new amendment through our amendment tool for every 10 cents we spend. This rate of reach is ridiculously effective and efficient—it’s a rate almost unheard of in the digital marketing space. But we need help getting the message out, and this costs money. Every dollar we raise over the next 24 hours—up to $25,000—will go toward digital ads to turn out more people and to our social media staff to focus on stopping TrumpCare.

We want EVERYBODY rising up to kill this TrumpCare bill. To do that, we need to invest more in our anti-TrumpCare outreach work NOW. If you want more people in this fight, please donate. $15, $28, $50—any amount will help us reach new folks. We’ll be expanding our reach DIRECTLY in response to your donations.

We are under no illusions that victory is assured here, but victory is possible. Every member of Congress voting on this bill will eventually have to get your vote to be reelected. That’s the source of your constituent power. That’s what makes them responsive to pressure. Remember in March when Paul Ryan embarrassingly called off his first TrumpCare vote? That happened because of public pressure. That happened because of you.

We’re not going down without a fight. Let’s stand stand indivisible again. Let’s win this.

In solidarity,

Ezra Levin
Co-Executive Director, Indivisible

 


www.indivisibleguide.com | Donate

I love you (and links)

One would think that after more than a decade and a half of years in marriage and 20-odd years together that I wouldn’t be learning new things about you.

But this year I did learn something new.

One of the things you said you loved about me back when we were teenagers was how much I cared about things.  You’ve generally been calm and have tended not to pay much attention to current events.  But you liked about me that I wasn’t and I did… you said you admired that.

Generally when something has been important enough to me, I’ve been able to ask you to do something and you’ve done it.  I’ve always thought that you’d gotten out of your comfort zone in those cases because of your love for me and because I thought things were important.

But this time you’re doing more than I’ve ever asked.  I asked that you attend a university anti-hate rally, go to the women’s march, and make calls with the weekly actions from one of the lists.  You’re doing that, but so much more. You’re paying attention to the news and occasionally send me links.  You’ve volunteered for all sorts of things with the local democrats [and now indivisible].  You’re helping the local group that works with immigrants.  You’ve become a certified voter registrar.  You’ve gone so far out of your comfort zone with all this activism.  And you’re not even unemployed yet!

And I asked you why, and you said because it matters.  Because you need to do something about all the horrible things going on.  Because it’s the right thing.  Not because I think it’s the right thing, but because it is the right thing.  You don’t seem to be enjoying all of this– you’re still an introvert who dislikes politics and are much more comfortable with playing games on a virtual landscape or with the sterile world of saving lives through engineering.  But you’re doing it anyway.  Because you’re a responsible person.  A good person.

You told me this morning that you’d slept poorly because you’d had a nightmare about gunslingers and then when you woke up you kept thinking about politics and couldn’t get back to sleep.  Usually that’s me who is doing that (and usually I wake you up and you talk to me until I fall sleep again).

I don’t know what life is going to be like in a few months when this post posts.  I don’t know who our president is going to be or what kind of links will be following this post.  Right now as I type this, the news is about lies about ties to Russia as the President’s men are recusing and resigning.  Remember that?

But I do know, whatever the future holds, where ever we are this June 17th or next or any June 17th after, I am lucky to have been able to spend my life with you.  I admire you.  You are the best person I know (our children, as always, included, as they came from you).  And, as always, I love you so very much.  Thank you for sharing your life with me.

And now for some links!

***********************************************************************************************************************

Juneteenth is this weekend (technically it’s Monday, but the weekend is better for celebrating)!  Celebrate the actual end of slavery!

What can you do if your senators are Democrats?

Republican senators are unable to explain even what they are trying to fix with the AHCA.

Republican health care bill would raise insurance premiums

Russia may have actually hacked some voting.

Counter-protests last weekend

Another thread on sexism and HRC

Celebrate bureaurcracy

Stop pretending you’re not rich

#2 will live seemingly forever

Maybe I need a writing hat!

Saliva DNA and migration

I cleaned out my email inbox a bit… here’s some scholarly articles:

Ugh Uber

Manager bias decreases work output for minorities (get rid of racist managers!)

Gender diversity and performance in venture capital

The lifecycle of scholarly performance across fields

Head Start works even better when followed by better funded K-12

The presidential election was bad for health

/end scholarly articles

Modern love fairy tales

Ow, the title on this.

Get Old Man’s War for free through June 21st

This is a nice mansion

This is a cat house

Interview with Seanan McGuire

Nerd!  Also, Sweet

What kind of activism does your community need?

It’s summer– if you’re one of our academic readers, you may finally have the feeling that your head is above water and you can start paying attention to the world again.  If you’re not an academic, this post still applies to you.  :)

Right now, there’s a huge groundswell of support for the resistance.  Change is finally possible.  People want to do things, aren’t sure what to do.

(There may also be some burn-out given how it seems like we’re treading water and still being dragged under.  But things would be much worse if we weren’t resisting at all.  Hang in there!)

What best to do depends on where you live… blue states often have organizations and networks.  Groups tend to know what is out there and they’ve got connections.  It’s pretty easy to join something that matches your interests and become a foot soldier for justice.

Unfortunately, even liberal cities in red states may not have these kinds of networks. Instead they may have lots of separate little groups that each do their own thing.  This ends up leading to duplication of effort, especially if, for example, the local democratic party is small and disorganized and hasn’t tried to pull things together.

There are some things that you can do in these situations that may have a big effect:

Just figuring out what the groups are and introducing them to each other can multiply the effects of what each group is doing.  Leaders can coordinate on bigger events.  They can let each other know what’s going on.  They can do better crowd-sourcing of simple things.  They can share effort.  First you need to find out what these groups *are* and how to contact them.  A more advanced step would be to invite all of the leaders to a leaders meeting so that they can meet each other and share their abilities and needs across the community.  My DH nudged the local dems to do this in our area.  My sister got together the leaders in her major city– she rented out one of the big library spaces and put out the call.  It’s possible this has already been done where you live which is great, but if my sister’s major red state (blue) city was fragmented, then yours may be too.

Another problem with some of these organizations is that they don’t realize some of the problems that they have with their systems.  For example, our local dems had no idea that they had a huge backlog of people signing up to join from their webpage back from November until DH met with the head of the dems in January or February and asked her to look into it.  Turns out their automated email system wasn’t working and they’d had no idea.  If things aren’t running smoothly, sometimes it just takes a small check to find that there’s been a technical glitch.  If you’ve tried to join a group and met with silence, it may be worth following up.  There may be other systems that could benefit from a little bit of streamlining.

Both of the above in our town resulted from a 30 min meeting DH had with the head of the local dems.

More standard things you can do (in order of how hard they seem to us):

  1. Check your voter registration.  Register to vote
  2. Get on a weekly mailing list and follow their instructions (or a subset of their instructions)
  3. Fax
  4. Call
  5. Find and visit the local groups in your city
    1. Figure out who is doing things well and join them
    2. Figure out who is doing things poorly and fix them (either via nudging or taking over small parts– nobody seems to get upset when you fix their technical problems).  Make sure if you take this step that you’re actually helping/doing the work and not just bro-splaining that people are “doing it wrong”.
    3. Connect local groups to each other
  6. Get other people to be active.  I haven’t yet figured out how to get the bros who complain (loudly, in the hallway) but do nothing to lift a single finger, but there are a lot of people out there who want to do stuff but either need a little nudging or a little direction.  Talk to folks– you might be surprised!
  7. Go to protests
  8. Become a voter registrar for your state
    1. Register voters
    2. Get other people to register voters!
  9. Call harder
  10. Write letters to the editor
  11. Figure out where your rep is going to be, be there, and say something
  12. Do a district office visit with your representatives
  13. Start your own #indivisible or #resist group
  14. Run for local office
  15. Run for state office
  16. Run for federal office

BTW, today (Wednesday) is national “Call your senators about the AHCA day”.  Here’s a link from 5calls.  If you can’t get through and would rather fax, you can do that here.

Grumpy nation– what am I missing?  What resources have you found or are you using?  What else should/could we be doing?  Suggestions for activism links?

I am going to register as a Republican

I mentioned this to two of my colleagues and they told me they already had!  One of them grew up in a red state and said that’s the only way she’s been able to affect politics– through primaries.  The other said he did it after the presidential election.

It seems messed up, but our local Indivisible group has said that their goal is not to run a dem but to find a moderate republican with morals to primary our tea party congressman.  I agree that’s a good goal given our current district stats, as much as I miss the blue-dog dem we had before he was gerrymandered out of existance.

I will still, of course, vote straight blue ticket in the main election, so I hope the dems find someone to run.

Sympathy and the Other

Disclaimer:  This post is (intentionally) written from the perspective of a white (CIS/Christian) middle-class American.

Akata Witch is an interesting book.  It’s been touted as “Harry Potter set in Nigeria” but it has connected itself directly to an American audience in the way that many older fantasy novels do– by putting a member or two of its audience in the “other” land.  We Americans connect to Akata through the eyes of Sunny, an (albino…) American/Nigerian who has moved back to Nigeria.  If Sunny isn’t enough, there’s also Sasha, a black boy from Chicago who, other than the being-able-to-do-magic part, is almost a stereotype.  These two connections to the United States bring us to the foreign land.  Sunny is the reader.  She’s American.  She reacts in ways that the reader understands.  We have sympathy for her because we can imagine being in her shoes and that connection brings us along to her situation in the magical (Leopard) communities of Nigeria.

Similarly, we are put into the doctor’s shoes on the recent United Flight– we’ve paid for our seats on overbooked flights and had somewhere we needed to be the next day.  The doctor in this case was Asian, but even Fox News chose not to “other” him.  “His nightmare could be yours,” say the headlines.  And it can.  Even if you’re an upper middle-class professional who travels in coach.

Sean Spicer’s recent comments about the Holocaust were a direct effort at trying to “other” Jewish people.  When he said that Hitler did not use chemical weapons on his own people, it is far more likely that those comments were deliberate than made from ignorance.  Either he’s signaling to Holocaust deniers that Trump’s one of them, or, and more likely, he’s opening up the question:  Were German Jews German?  As good Americans born after WWII, many of whom fought or had parents or grandparents who fought (or tended to soldiers) for the rights of Jews and others that Hitler oppressed, we’ve been brought up to believe that Jewish people are part of us– they’re Judeo-Christian.  They’re white.  That could have been us.  First they came… for us.  (Sadly, we have not been taught as well to enlarge that grouping to hold other faiths, ethnicities, skin colors.)

But Spicer separates out that melding.  He suggests that no, German Jews aren’t German.  They’re Jews.  Hitler didn’t gas his own people.  He gassed Jews (and homosexuals and Roma and other minority groups).  Implicitly what Spicer is telling us is that it is ok for the government to gas a minority group.  He’s othering Jews, and saying that because they are the other it is ok for government to mistreat them.  Much like what we will be doing to our immigrants who the government is already ripping from their families, herding together, and taking to detention centers.  Will he argue that whatever abuse they endure in those centers is ok because they’re not us?  They’re also the “other”.  I think he will.  Charles Clymer has more on the dangers of Spicer’s comments in this 66 part tweet that he really should have storified.  It is well worth reading even if you have to click for more a bunch.

I admit, it is hard for me to care as much when an attack happens in a Middle Eastern war zone or in France to people chosen at random as it is when it happens in a college in the United States.  Or someplace I’ve lived.  Or to children nearly the same age as my own.  We feel more worry and more pain the more similar the victims are to people we know personally and personally care about.  With “the other” we can feel sadness and empathy, but perhaps not sympathy.  It’s less scary when we think it can’t happen to us.  It’s easier to go about our day after reading the news headlines when their violence doesn’t remind us of our own lives.

In Akata Witch, the Americans provide connections to us.  They’re not the other to us because in a world that is strange to us, they provide us with grounding that we understand.  They are us and we are them.  The doctor on the United flight stands in for our experiences traveling– we, too, could be treated poorly without recourse.  Even with a fancy degree or important job.

Let’s not allow the government or society to “other” more people.  Let’s stand with our fellow humans.  American Jews are Americans.  We are a nation of Immigrants.  We should not allow cruel and unusual punishment to people who are not “us”, but we should also not allow anybody to break “us” into pieces of “them.”  #resist.

Of interest:  a history of the sanctuary movement

Actions from 5-calls that you can take to protect people:
Sanctuary cities
Dreamers
Syrian Refugees
Afghan allies

Secure broadcasting: An exploration without a solution

My DH diligently considered the problem of broadcasting time-critical messages from a known source to a group of people that wish to remain anonymous.  This problem is difficult to solve, and he has been unable to devise an ideal solution. He has tried to avoid excessive detail and only cover the main points.  The following is from my DH, starting with a disclaimer:

I take no responsibility for the correctness or incorrectness of the following.  I have made a good-faith effort to understand the problem and potential solutions [to secure broadcasting], and to describe my understanding clearly in the following text, but I do not guarantee any of the information I am providing here.  I am not a security expert, and there is the distinct possibility that I am lacking critical knowledge which could result in negative consequences if anyone acts on any of this information.  I have performed what I consider a thorough online search over a few weeks, and have hit the point where I am not discovering new pertinent information.

***********************

The best option I have found is that the agency tweets alerts using Twitter.  The “followers” (people that want to remain anonymous) use a dummy/anonymous Twitter account to follow the agency’s account and sign up for push notifications on tweets.  A dummy account can be created on Twitter by providing a full name (any name) and an email address.  That email address can be acquired from various free email services without providing any information, e.g., www.mailinator.com (though Twitter does some checking of the name & email address to try and reject automated signups.)  No phone number is required.

Pros: relatively simple to setup; the followers will get instantly notified of alerts on iOS/Android/PC; since Twitter is used by so many people its use will not be a red flag even though it will be obvious to any snoopers that the followers are using Twitter; dummy/anonymous accounts allow followers to avoid sharing any of their actual information (e.g., phone number, email address, personal connections); follower-to-follower (or fake-follower to real-follower) communication could easily be ignored and would not be mistaken for messages from the agency.

Cons: anyone can find out the followers’ accounts; Twitter will know the followers’ IP addresses (which can then be used to find the physical location); followers that use a non-anonymous account will be connecting their personal info/connections to these tweets (a very public trove of information) so followers that normally use Twitter will have to remember to switch accounts back and forth; the tweets themselves (i.e., the messages from the agency) would be completely public (that doesn’t seem like a big downside based on my understanding of the problem).

So to be completely clear, a powerful government could get the necessary info from the Twitter company to track down the phone equipment/service and physical location of everyone getting notified of the agency alerts.  It may be possible for someone to get sufficient info even without Twitter’s support.

************************

The second-best option I found is to use one (or more) of a handful of Instant Messaging programs.  A big downside to using an Instant Messaging (aka chat) program is that the problem I am trying to solve is how to *broadcast* messages, and setting up two-way communication between all the members of the group can actually be a negative. For example, what if someone(s) start sending false messages on purpose or by accident?  What if they use the chat program to start one-on-one discussions with the other “followers”?  For this reason, chat programs are really the wrong tool for the job, but when you don’t have a perfect tool sometimes you have to make do with the wrong one.

Almost any program could work, but they each have pros and cons. For example, Signal is very secure and is the chat program of choice for Indivisible and some other security-conscious groups. The messages are end-to-end encrypted, so one can snoop on your messages (unless they hack the sending or receiving phone). Unfortunately, Signal displays all the users’ phone numbers to the other users in the group which would make it easy for a snooper that breached the group to find the physical locations of all the users.  One of the tenets of secure communications is to “assume breach”, which means one should always assume that there’s a snoop/spy/mole that already has access to your systems/groups/messages.  For example, someone joins the group, then their phone gets stolen and hacked and now there’s a spy in your supposedly-secure group that can see all your phone numbers….that’s one of the reasons a chat program might not be the right tool because then everyone treats that spy as a trusted member.

Most instant messaging programs are not encrypted end-to-end, which means that the message is decrypted by the server and the server can save the plain-text (i.e., unencrypted) message.  So Skype, google chat, etc etc, are bad choices because the company could (be forced to) share the messages to a snooper, while servers/providers for end-to-end encrypted programs don’t have those messages to share in the first place.  Unfortunately, of the most popular chat systems, to my knowledge only Facebook Messaging can be encrypted, but encryption is optional and followers couldn’t “add” themselves to a group, so it doesn’t seem like a good option either.  Many of the popular chat programs also require more effort to create a dummy account than Twitter…e.g., they want to know phone numbers and track search histories etc.  On the other hand, the popular programs are otherwise almost always the easiest to setup/use.

Of the Instant Messaging programs, only a handful are end-to-end encrypted, and those programs are not commonly used.  Three examples of the tens that I investigated are ChatSecure, Wickr, and Riot.  There is a big problem with using an uncommon internet-based program, which is that snoopers can theoretically just watch all the connections to the servers for whichever program is chosen (in this general geographic area).  Then everyone connecting to those servers becomes a target (connections to the server pass either through ISPs or cell phone towers, those connections describe which server the connection is for, and the ISP or cell phone company can at least roughly locate the phone/computer making the connection).  The scenario is like watching a building: one knows who goes in the front door and that might be all the info they need even if the inside of the building can’t be observed.  Other issues with this small selection of chat programs are: 1) some of them require actual phone numbers for verification (like Signal), 2) few of them work on both Android and iOS (and even fewer also work on PC), 3) they tend to be complicated to setup/use, and 4) they don’t all allow group messages.

Somewhat (but not completely) academically, it is possible to “hide” the connection messages (i.e., come into the building from the alley entrance) via TOR.  TOR is a collection of servers that obfuscate where the connections are actually going.  Someone using TOR is sending connections to TOR, then something happens inside TOR, and a connection comes out of TOR and goes to the end-point (e.g., a chat program’s server).  There’s no direct connection between the connection that went into TOR and the connection that eventually makes it to the end-point.  So in the building-watching scenario, the watcher can see people walking into the alley, and knows that those people are going from the alley into specific buildings, but doesn’t know which people go where.  This setup is somewhat academic for two reasons: first, the watcher/snooper still knows that the connection is going to TOR which might be enough info to label someone a target, and second, using TOR is complex…too complex to recommend for the general public in my opinion.

**************************

The (distant) third option I came up with is for the agency to post messages to an RSS feed.  Followers would subscribe to the feed and thus be notified of the messages.  RSS feeds are commonly used when someone wants to be updated when a website changes (e.g., a new blog entry is posted).  Pros: no user accounts necessary, no logging into anything, no data stored on any server except for the message from the agency that gets posted like a webpage or a blog post.

The one con is a big one; RSS feed readers (the programs that grab the message and provide the notification) would need to continuously poll the RSS feed from the agency.  Since RSS feeds are “pull” instead of “push”, the program would have to regularly check to see if there’s a new message.  First, that means any snooper can just watch for people polling that specific RSS feed.  With SSL (i.e., https) connections that level of snooping is not trivial but is still possible, so the polling is a big weakness.  For instance, if the agency used a Wordpress blog, then WordPress would know the IP address of everyone polling the RSS feed.  Second, if a follower is using a phone without wifi access, then the RSS feed reader would be continuously using (small amounts of) cell data to check for changes/messages.  Third, RSS feeds generally cannot be checked faster than every five minutes (and every ten minutes would be safer to avoid server/ISP issues).  That would cause a delay of up to several minutes before someone gets the message, and the faster they check the more data they use (which will affect their phone bill and the server’s data usage).

**************************

Finally, if we’re envisioning a better future, then I would want either a security-conscious Twitter-substitute (allowing private/anonymous following with push notifications), or an easy-to-use TOR-enabled end-to-end-encrypted cross-platform group chat program.  Neither of those would immediately solve this problem, but they would make it more likely to be solved in the future.

I wish I could have found something I would consider a *good* solution, but it is very difficult to be truly anonymous online.  All of the above options just make it a bit harder for any snooper to find out information about the followers.