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I just announced on my Facebook page that I’m not going to be posting much on there anymore. With this latest Facebook privacy change on January 30th, I'm getting scared. This company is engaging in very serious privacy breaches, and I’d like to speak a bit about some of them, in case you are unaware. Facebook now tracks everything you read or do on the internet.
Even if you never posted anything, they can easily work out your age, gender, sexual orientation and political views. When you post, they work out much more. Then they reveal it to banks, insurance companies, governments, and advertisers. Facebook reads your private messages and the contents of the links you send privately. They've used snitching campaigns to obtain private information.
Facebook can also your phone's mic on whenever they want -- based on their track-record changing privacy settings, audio surveillance is likely to start happening without your knowledge. They can use face recognition to track your location through pictures, even those that aren't on Facebook. (Pictures taken with mobile phones have time, date and GPS data built into them.)
They even track things you type but don't post. Everything you read online, everything someone ever posts about you, all your private financial transactions. All your data starts to get combined with your friends data to make these models more accurate. It's not just about you and your data but what gets done with all of it put together.
The issue here isn't what we have to hide, it's maintaining an important right to our freedom -- which is the right to privacy, and the right to have a say in how information about us is used. We've giving up those rights forever by using Facebook. If you've ever admitted to something illegal in a private message, or mentioned your support for a political cause, this can be used against you in the future.
One of the first Facebook investors called Greylock has board connections to a CIA investment firm called In-Q-Tel. According to their website, it "identifies cutting-edge technologies to help the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community to further their missions". And if you haven't heard - it was revealed that Facebook data is delivered directly to the PRISM programme.
Most of this information finds its way into the public anyway. A recent example is RapLeaf which collected and released personally identifiable information, including Facebook and MySpace IDs. They stopped after serious controversy, but there were other companies who escaped the bad PR and kept up the same practice. Your data is bought and sold to try.
Do you trust their law enforcement with this information about you? They're buying it, too. Mark Zuckerburg himself has been public and consistent to his investors about his intentions. He wants to be the middle-man in all personal communication and make all personal communication public over time. That’s why they slowly changed the default privacy settings to public.
There a loads of privacy breaches you can't turn off. And even if you have nothing to hide, you have to worry about the opposite, what Facebook chooses to hide. They censor you, as well, selectively showing your comments only to certain people. Facebook filters out your posts based on whether or not members will use Facebook more if they don't see it.
Facebook's blocks posts based on political content it doesn't like. They blocked posts about Fergusson and other political protests. When Zuckerberg alledgedly went a bit nuts and banned the word "privacy" from meetings at Facebook, it was also blocked from any Facebook post. You just got an error message about "inappropriate content".
Facebook goes so far as to let political organisations block your communication. It just takes a few people to mark the same news article as offensive, and it drops from everyone's feed. This is often abused. I can block any article from Facebook by getting a few friends to mark it as offensive. Cheap and easy censorship.
We need be aware of the agendas of the people behind Facebook, and Google/Youtube, for that matter. The first board member of Facebook, the politically conservative Peter Thiel, promotes a theory called Memetic Desire which, among other positive things, can also use people's social groups to manipuate their wants and intentions.
It feels like Facebook is the only way to stay in touch. Through pictures and comments. It feels like everyone's on there and you're getting a good feed on their life. In reality, lots of your posts are never seen by anyone! And you miss out on their stuff too. Your Facebook habit also means other people have to rely on Facebook to communicate with you.
It actually hurts your relationships with a lot of people because you think you're in touch with them, but you're not. At best, you're in touch with a filtered version of your friends. Those relationships fade, while your relationships with people who make "Facebook-friendly" posts take their place. Not only does Facebook want to read all your communication, it wants to control it too.
If you've ever used Facebook contact sync, or used Facebook on your mobile phone, Facebook took your complete contact list. Real names, phone numbers, addresses, emails, everything. They then use that to create "shadow profiles" of the people who aren't on Facebook. Facebook will store your name and contact information, plus it knows who your friends are because it sees you in the address book.
A couple of pictures uploaded with his face, and presto - they can identify him in pictures -- adding location data from the pictures to his shadow profile. Lots of Facebook's other techniques work on shadow profiles too. On top of all this, they can very accurately infer a lot about him based on statistical similarities to his friends.
Like shadow profiles of people, Facebook can "infer a like" based on other information it has about you, like what you read all over the internet or what you do in apps where you log in with Facebook. This allows them to sell you to more advertisers. Facebook hires the best in the field and are looking to pioneer state-of-the-art artificial intelligence for this.
In Europe, Facebook is legally oblidged to share exactly what information it has about you - but they refuse. So there's yet another class action lawsuit against them. Through it's labyrinth of re-definitions of words like "content" and "data", you're allowing Facebook to collect and expose all kinds of info about you. With your permission they say.
You thought those Farmville and Candy Crush requests were annoying? Every time you saw one, that friend was revealing your information to "third parties." On top of this, they allow all the Facebook apps full access to your information - with your name and everything. And even if you never use any apps on Facebook, your friends do. When they use apps, your friends share all your information for you.
Finally, I want to explain how this latest privacy change makes things way worse, and way more out of your control if you stay on Facebook. Facebook is demanding to track what you buy, and your financial information like bank account and credit card numbers. You've already agreed to it in the new Terms Of Service. It's already started sharing data with Mastercard.
They'll use the fact that you stayed on Facebook as "permission" to make deals with all kinds of banks and financial institutions to get your data from them. They'll call it anonymous, but like they trick your friends to reveal your data to the third-parties with apps, they'll create loopholes here too. Facebook is also insisting to track your location via your phone's GPS, everywhere and all the time.
It'll know extactly who you spend your time with. They'll know your habits, they'll know when you call in sick at work, but are really out bowling. "Sal likes 2pm Bowling at Secret Lanes." They'll know if you join an addict support group, or go to a psychiatrist, or a psychic, or a mistress, or a doctor. They'll know everything that can be revealed by your location, and they'll use it however they want to make a buck.
And -- it'll all be done retrospectively. If you stay on Facebook past January 30th, there's nothing stopping all of your past location and financial data to get used. They'll get your past location data from when your friends checked-in with you, and the GPS data stored in photos of you. They'll pull your old financial records and add it to your profile to be used as Facebook chooses.
It will be sold again and again, and likely used against you. It will be shared with governments and be freely available from loads of "third-party" companies who do nothing but sell personal data, and irreversibly eliminate your privacy. This massively empowers these third-parties to collect all avaiable information about you, including calculated information that you never revealed.
This is a situation where even Facebook itself will have trouble maintaining the privacy of its data -- not that they care. This is unprecedented, and just like you'd never have guessed that Facebook would sell your endorsements when you signed up in 2009, it's too hard to predict what Facebook and those third-party data sellers will do with this new power.
This is simply a consequence of their business model. Facebook sells you out, because that's exactly how they make money. And they're under heavy pressure from their investors to make more. Today I announced on my Facebook page that I’ve maintained for several years that I will no longer be posting on it. I’m now backing-up and deleting all my content from Facebook and I suggest you do the same.