Facebook spies on your texts, likely sells them for profit
February 27, 2012
So, Facebook reads your text messages, according to the the London Sunday Times in a subscribers-only article, referenced all over the blogosphere today (Fox News, Tech Crunch, and many others). If you have the Facebook mobile app, then that same mobile app, without asking your permission, has been showing your text messages to Facebook, who makes a profit off of it.
Companies don’t act unless it’s profitable. Unwritten economic law.
Unsurprising for Zuckerberg, whose name is synonymous with Facebook, and who is its ultimate boss, the CEO – the final decider. He who will only eat meat killed by his own hand, has sank his sharp, blood-stained, carniverous teeth even further into the privacy of his user base. This action, repeated millions of times, comprises the lifeblood of both his company, and his duly ample bank accounts.
Zuckerberg recently censored myself, along with perhaps thousands of other users, all who shared a simple image, and over this topic, I have challenged him to a duel (of words). The censored image wasn’t lewd, it wasn’t graphic or vulgar, it in no way displayed nudity, it offended no religion, race, creed, gender, or sexuality.
This could only have been censorship.
I’ll admit, the image was controversial. Quite controversial. It’s not like I think I was posting about sandwiches. But, since when did ideological controversy, rationed logic, and simple common sense become potentially censorable information?
I thought this was America!
I have laid down my evidence at the altar of the blogosphere, and I let the public be the judge.
Coincidentally, I believe that this should be the process for how most of society’s decision-making should get done. To do this, we must affirm, in our national constitution, that uncensored internet access is a human right. The UN has already publicly declared this, and I’d like all of America to repeat that declaration.
Bute’re all just dumb fucks anyway, in Zuckerberg’s opinion. The candid truth often comes out in shining bursts, and is then covered up by the requisite pleasantries, apologies, and politeness-related backpedaling.
Well, I’m not a dumb fuck anymore, because I just deleted the Facebook app from my phone! Now, only the State Department can read my texts! Shove it, Suckerberg!
In light of the Fact that Facebook has been reading our texts this whole time, without telling anyone, (and they’re still denying it), I’d like to revisit a point I’ve made in the past, because it’s an important one. There is a debate as old as humanity, and it regards the balance between privacy and security (read my full article on the topic).
Privacy versus Security
With privacy, people can mind their own business. The drawback is that criminals are more free to, uh, criminalize. With less privacy, life is harder for criminals, but the danger is that police (or their functional equivalent) become the criminals, and as such, invade, take, hurt, and punish innocent people (see below for more on this).
To get around this debate altogether, we need to demand transparency from our government. As transparent as technology is forcing people to be, we all need to demand that our government be equally transparent.
To add to this synopsis of my original point, there is a threshold of privacy. People can’t be forced to infinite transparency. People are entitled to objectively measurable levels of privacy.
The government is also entitled to objectively measurable levels of privacy. Troop movements in hostile situations are not public knowledge. What I text to my friends and family should also, by this rule, not be public knowledge. Facebook profitting off of the theft of our text messages is an archetypally heinous invasion of privacy.
A little bit of contrast for the ladies and gentlemen in the audience
It was a warm, clear, black, night in Oakland on November 2, 2011. There was a march that police refused to cordon off to traffic. Instead of driving the three blocks north to get around the origin of the evening march at Oakland’s Ogawa Plaza, a young driver grew impatient and ran down two marching activists, in front of dozens of witnesses, many of whom physically blocked the car from escaping with their numerous, critically-amassed bodies, and all of whom all agree that after hitting the two pedestrians, the car accelerated.
Accelerated, as in, failed to stop immediately. Accelerated, as in, dragged an innocent woman 30 feet across Broadway by her broken leg. This is the definition of hit and run, read the law yourself, then read my full story. This crime is punishable by a minimum $1,000 fine and a year in prison, with a longer sentence if the victim(s) are seriously injured or killed. Later, everyone watched as the driver switched seats with his girlfriend, who was in the passenger seat. The police arrived, but let the driver go home.
When some of us lose rights, all of us lose rights.
Authority, in one manifestation or another, has been abusing the world’s citizenry. Watch here as cops pepper spray kids in Davis, California, who were simply sitting in a group, and then literally, in one take, you see the same cops just walk away and leave. Job well done, let’s go get some doughnuts. Kids still sitting in the same spot.
When some of us lose our rights, all of us lose our rights.
Sex trafficking enslaves millions of people today on our planet, but our police focus millions of dollars worth of human effort and ingenuity toward pepper spraying kids, hanging helicopters in the air, and looking for “terrorists.” If you have a million people trained to see terrorism, and you release them into “the field” (as they’re sure to detachedly call it) to look for “terrorism,” I guarantee you one thing.
They’ll find it.
The state department will find terrorism like it’s kids on Easter Sunday.
To be literally clear, they will either call themselves failures, or they will throw the word “terrorism” at something new, something that’s never been called terrorism before. They’ll find it everywhere, if they want to feel like they’ve achieved maximum success.
Some apps, like YouTube (which comes as standard software on the iPhone), can remotely access your device, snap photos of you at any time, and send those photos to… wherever. Will they find “the terrorism” in your random photos you didn’t know were being taken?
We’re still catching our breaths about SOPA, and SOPA was like Sesame Street compared to the EEA, HR 3166. Lose your citizenship, and what. Go to a different country? With your passport? Life’s hard when you’re a citizen of nowhere.
If you use Facebook, then Facebook uses you. It’s worse than you think. Much, much worse.
I say this as a person who’s recently boycotted Facebook:
Music credit for podcast: Floral Shoppe, by Macintosh Plus, on their album, Beer on the Rug