Saturday, June 06, 2015

Goodbye, Facebook

I followed a link the other day to an interesting piece of writing -- where "interesting" includes a substantial element of "horrifying," that is.  As a result of my reading, I'm trying to do a few things to decrease my exposure to online surveillance, both governmental and corporate (not that there's any meaningful distinction between the two, of course).  Concerning Facebook, the author says:


Why: Many people in this world are lonely. “Free” social networks like Facebook are designed to capitalize on this. In return for helping you feel connected to others, they study you like a lab rat and turn you into a product. I’m not exaggerating. As the founder of Facebook said, “They ‘trust me’ – dumb fucks.” Meanwhile he surrounds his home with empty lots and hundreds of acres of undeveloped land.
Facebook’s “like” system is designed to reinforce whatever your existing beliefs are. Facebook is engineered to be a giant echo chamber which figures out what you like to hear so it can feed it to you. That’s how it hooks people.
It’s also the ultimate propaganda system. Recall Facebook’s notorious social engineering experiment which proved it could manipulate the mood of over half a million people by altering their feeds. The experiment received funding from the US Army Research office. The military funds research on the mass manipulation of a population’s mood? You don’t say.
As with Google, Facebook’s core business is mass surveillance. You’re the product, not the customer. Facebook collects and stores an insane amount of intel about every facet of your life. It not only tracks everywhere you go, it lets others track you too.
Facebook has developed software as accurate as the human brain to reveal your identity in any photo you or someone else uploads. And yes, even 4 years ago Facebook was tracking you and assembling hundreds of pages of intel on you even when you weren’t logged in. Now it’s thousands of pages, and the surveillance and analysis are much more sophisticated.
Every time people post photos of themselves and others to Facebook, Instagram (owned by Facebook), Twitter, Google, or other surveillance-based services, they are unwittingly building mass surveillance databases containing the details of people’s appearances, who they associate with, what they do, and when and where they’ve been.
A single innocuous photo can reveal a lot of information. Trillions of photos is a frightfully vast surveillance database to be exploited by regimes, corporations, and free agent bad guys. Mass surveillance depends on social media as a primary data source.
Every American technology mega-corp has backdoors. Snowden made it clear: Tech giants are surveillance proxies for the government. The government’s own top secret slide is worth repeating here as it just says it all.
NSA PRISM mass surveillance-industrial complex
The mass surveillance-industrial complex
To put it plainly, Facebook and other “free” social media services are mass surveillance roach motels. Free is the bait to get you in the door, and surveillance intel is used to hook you on the service so you can become a forever profitable product. Yes they are slickly marketed, convenient, and ultra-popular. They are also a trap and indispensable to the mass surveillance scaffolding. Check out of the roach motel.
In several ways, I'll miss Facebook.  It enabled me to re-connect with more than a few people with whom I hadn't communicated in decades.  But, with a "patriotic" pseudoholiday (Memorial Day) just being over, I'm aware of a side benefit of leaving the Facebook world: there's a great deal of crap that some of my Facebook friends love to "share" that will no longer be making my newsfeed a burden to me ... now that I no longer have a newsfeed.  Many, many exhortations to honor The Holy Troops.  Lots of people's convictions that the very existence of Muslims somehow victimizes them.  An astonishing number of people sharing waspishly-political crap from something called "I F--king Love Science" (and, you know, I really greatly doubt whether these folks have even so much as mild affection for actual, it-takes-work-and-mathematics-type science, sexually active or not).  Yes, kicking the FB habit will have its compensations.

1 comment:

Mimi said...

Wow, Jim, Holy Smokes! I wish I could write, "No, no, you're wrong, Facebook is mostly benign," but I know darned well I can't. Okay, I'll miss you on FB, but am glad, at least, I'll still be able to communicate with you here and on my (rather tiresome, I'm afraid) blog. I'll copy this on Mimi's Musings shortly.