Two Facedbook?

by Courtney Reid Harris

Recently Mark Zuckerberg went public with his outrage against government spying techniques specifically ones utilizing the Internet and social media. This is in response to the wiki leaks that Google, yahoo, and Facebook are all being harnessed by the NSA to get our information. To take it one step further, some reports declared that as a part of its mass surveillance program, the NSA pretended to be Facebook in order to infect millions of computers worldwide with malware- doing such things as recording audio from the computers microphone and taking snapshots with its webcam. This is called “industrial scale exploitation” and is a part of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations, aimed at “owning the internet”.


((if this scares you out of your pants, here is a blog offering some advice on how to “keep the NSA out of your computer”))

Naturally, this new information greatly alarmed and appalled users of these sites who apparently didn’t realize the danger in avidly updating their locations on their profile pages or typing in their telephones numbers and birthdates

“To keep the Internet strong, we need to keep it secure”

In a heroic and calculated effort on Mark Zuckerberg’s part, he posted an open letter to the government (on his Facebook wall) chastising the breaches of privacy and decency and calling for a reform on this matter **to see full text, click here. He then went on to apparently call the chief executive himself to voice his opposition and concerns. His integrity and courage to speak out against this controversial issue becomes less impressive when we recall the episodes in which Facebook was under fire for selling the vast amounts of data Facebook has collected on us to sell to advertisers.


“Facebook is the largest opt-in community of individuals in the world, and boasts unparalleled reach. That means it’s likely the largest database of people ever built, and contains more personal data than any other source” (discovery) says Peter Pasi, executive vice president at Emotive LLC, a firm that focuses on digital outreach for political campaigns.

Facebook, like the Internet in general, is a tool we use to share and acquire information about the human experience.

So obviously it would be THE gold mine for reaching potential consumers and for intelligence gathering.

And as consumers in this modern marketplace, don’t we want our Internet to cater to us? This gets into the whole filter bubble controversy but when it just comes to the ads that line the right hand side of your Facebook window, do you care that your Internet is trying to relate to you? To deny this new medium for marketing would just be ineffective denial of the way our world is changing the products reach potential buyers.

ImageYes, what we share on our profile is collected by outside organizations. What people don’t seem to understand is that the content shared on our pages attributes just as much to the popup and placement ads on our screens as to the welfare of our national security (or what most people nowadays would call it, NSA spying).

It becomes more of a matter of identifying the bigger enemy, the tyrannical government or the insatiable capitalism.

“Zuckerberg, who has previously said that privacy is no longer a ‘social norm,’ makes an odd spokesman for the safeguarding of information,” writes Kevin Roose at New York magazine’s “Daily Intelligencer.”

Surveillance and publicizing are two examples of age-old practices transitioning into the modern world of technology. Perhaps, one could argue that although they are similar in method, they are not alike in intent.

“We imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government. The US government should be the champion for the Internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst,” wrote Zuckerberg.


Facebook also needs to be transparent to its users about the audiences and intent of the information recorded on its website. Perhaps the reports of webcams and microphones suddenly activating to record intelligence for the NSA is quite disconcerting if not science fiction, but what about the knowledge Google and Facebook and other search engines and networks they send to entrepreneurial corporations of our activity on their sites? That is the same violation of trust Mark Zuckerberg accuses the NSA of. Glass Houses.




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