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Old 7th February 2012, 10:31   #1
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Angry Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

I was going through the article carried in economic times. The stuff is scary and I think this is not the end. Always knew Google used to collect our personal data's but these players collecting data of non registered members also is very dangerous. I think we are all in a web of deceit where all information can be accessed by these giant's, as we use a windows/android/mac product all day along.

Pls find the below link for entire interview with Richard Stallman
link : Facebook is a surveillance engine, not friend: Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation - The Economic Times
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Old 7th February 2012, 10:53   #2
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

Although we work on free software and in principle i like when he talks about free software, but surveillance is too strong a word for some capabilities of the system. Take mobile for example, the service provider knows which location you are in, now you could call this a surveillance engine or a functionality that you would like to have (as it means being connected).

Same is the case with Google/FB, they only know you connected from which IP and can make intelligent guess as yo where you are located (City/Country) to push relevant advertisement to you as you wouldnt be interested in knowing that Toyota is selling Altis on discount in US, but sure you might be interested in knowing if Toyota is selling Altis at discount in India/City you are in. This data is never used for any other purpose and most often it gets deleted as and when you either log off or get disconnected.

Also a lot of time folks come to news sites and do not login, hence there is no way for a google/yahoo service to know if it was you who connected through that IP. FB is slightly different, although i am sure they do not do any surveillance of any sort.
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Old 7th February 2012, 11:12   #3
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

+1

Surveillance is certainly a strong word as we have willingly registered and used FB or Google wheather in the Internet or Mobile.

However, Interesting read but again all opinions are personal, the person himself is a self proclaimed hacker, by dictionary "hacker" is someone who is a person who finds out weaknesses in the computer and exploits it. Hackers may be motivated by a multitude of reasons, such as profit, protest, or challenge.
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Old 7th February 2012, 11:20   #4
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

Why is everyone bothered about it suddenly? We use so many apps and merrily share our location (Foursquare, google maps etc.). Besides this, so many people put in thier enitre life's history/geography on FB (or other SNS).

I for one, havent accessed my FB account for a while; or even if I do, I have removed all the personal information.
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Old 7th February 2012, 11:49   #5
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

Did anyone read Google's updated privacy policy?
Haven't read but from what i heard they too are getting a lot more aggressive/intrusive about targeted advertising, if you are logged in to any of their services.
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Old 7th February 2012, 12:03   #6
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post

Same is the case with Google/FB, they only know you connected from which IP and can make intelligent guess as yo where you are located (City/Country) to push relevant advertisement to you as you wouldnt be interested in knowing that Toyota is selling Altis on discount in US, but sure you might be interested in knowing if Toyota is selling Altis at discount in India/City you are in. This data is never used for any other purpose and most often it gets deleted as and when you either log off or get disconnected.
I differ in above statement. I agree such services are helpful, but in exact sense more than IP details etc; are stored. The Gmail for eg. gives me ad related to my profession only(ad sense). They would not have know my profession without accessing the content of my mail. You may say no human is accessing and the software itself throws up the result, but this also is in a sense invasion of privacy. Google and other such organizations actually stores data even after your literally delete the account(Forget logging off). I'm just pointing out that we have become so dependent on the devices, softwares and such sites that accidentally all information is entered/stored by us one way or another. These information are stored and can be used by the related organization.

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Originally Posted by motomaverick View Post
+1

Surveillance is certainly a strong word as we have willingly registered and used FB or Google wheather in the Internet or Mobile.
Exactly my point, Even though we have registered willing it does not give them explicit right over our personal details as mentioned above. BTW, I can safely assume 99% of the people does not read the fine print before registering.

Last edited by Vasuki : 7th February 2012 at 12:05. Reason: Spelling
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Old 7th February 2012, 12:41   #7
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

Another article on Facebook's inventry in the New York Times.
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/op...general&src=me
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Old 7th February 2012, 12:43   #8
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

Like somebody said, mobile companies can track your movement if required. FB, Google & other web companies collect a lot of information about its users. A person like Richard Stallman might object to this, but a lot, in fact almost all don't care about this.

There isn't much these companies can do other than showing relevant ads when I visit their sites. Probably share this data with Govt when they request.

A much greater problem is what people say on FB and get exposed themselves. For instance people announce they are going on a holiday and tell everyone that nobody will be at home. Their home address can easily be obtained by few of searches on web (and also the route ). An internet savvy thief can have a field day that night.

Or, like it happened here, some kid bragged about their expensive gadgets, their family foreign holidays on FB and thieves promptly showed up their doors one night - Thieves plunder apartment for Facebook booty

PS: If people find that FB is evil, they stop visiting that site, when translate to loss of revenue. I doubt FB would do anything to drive away its users. Nor they can do evil in stealth on many people for long.

Last edited by msdivy : 7th February 2012 at 13:01. Reason: Typos + Note
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Old 7th February 2012, 13:05   #9
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

I first met Richard Stallman back in 2001, when he gave a lecture at Delhi University (some auditorium), on Free Software Foundation, GNU, Linux, Microsoft etc. etc. Afterwards we had a brief opportunity to chat with him, on whatever was outstanding from the Q&A session.

My key takeaways from that session:
1. Richard Stallman has a different and significant line of thought, and that is what he tries to stick to, in the face of all rationale.
2. He is an idealist, a bit removed from the Commercial implications of human effort invested in Software Development.
3. A bit of a communist too, if you ask me, though not saying that it is bad!
4. Somewhat publicity hungry.

So, in light of the above, I have the following to say:
1. Any data / content that you post on the Internet is in the public domain, and you would lose control over who gets to see what, and who gets to think what, with that content.
2. As an internet user, it would be your personal responsibility to ensure that anything incriminating, compromising, or embarrassing about yourself is not shared by you.
3. If a third party / person violates point 2 above, I believe most countries give you legal recourse nowadays, and most responsible products and platforms would help you take that content down.
4. Read that Terms & Conditions document, User Agreements document, or whatever you call it, carefully. It very clearly gives these platforms a right to do what they do. It is you, who have given that confirmation, in your ardent desire to benefit from that platform. I agree, that at times, the clauses have a degree of subjectivity involved, and that subjectivity can be misused by the platform.
5. If Facebook, for example, trends your Likes to build a psychological profile of you, and then targets content or services that would best appeal to your psyche, I think they are perfectly within their rights to do so. However, if they were to share the same with the Government of a country, to help them take some action against you, or discriminate against you, then that is indeed wrong, and I am worried that this is increasingly going to happen.

Nowadays I am increasingly worried how the world over, seemingly Democratic governments are trying hard to infringe upon People's rights and freedoms. Our Democratic institutions are being manipulated through various nuances, to gain greater control over what a person thinks or does.
If Facebook, Google, Microsoft etc... are being made to support such developments, by varying means of Arm-twisting, we can hardly blame them. In fact, I like the fact and appreciate them, that they have time and again, tried to fight that control, but with limited success.
So, if one is too concerned about his or her privacy, blaming these companies and platforms isn't going to help. What can really help, if to stay away from these platforms in totality. Not done, right?
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Old 7th February 2012, 13:08   #10
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

I think the problem is when companies store information which can be hacked into. The companies themselves might use it for something that is not harmful.
People need to understand better and know what should be shared on public web services.
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Old 7th February 2012, 13:12   #11
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

Quote:
Originally Posted by msdivy View Post

Or, like it happened here, some kid bragged about their expensive gadgets, foreign holiday on FB and thieves promptly showed up their doors one night - Thieves plunder apartment for Facebook booty

PS: If people find that FB is evil, they stop visiting that site, when translate to loss of revenue. I doubt FB would do anything to drive away its users. Nor they can do evil in stealth for on many people.
+1 to this. No one has forced anyone to join / use FB, Google, Yahoo etc.

And why make villains out of FB and Google, don't we reveal far more information opening bank accounts, getting phone/mobile connections, buying cars, buying houses, renting properties etc. There is a lot of our personal information that is just floating out there, of which we are completely unaware.

Google and now FB are just smart enough to understand it's marketing value and use it to their advantage.

Personally I think Mr. Stallman is a wee little bit paranoid and thinks he really lives in "1984".
I mean, he advises not to register in the national database, dont buy books online, come on!! and btw you can order books online and pay by COD.

In today's world if you want to stay of the radar go to Haridwar and live the life of an wandering Hermit, best of luck!!
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Old 7th February 2012, 13:13   #12
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

I don't think one has to fear anything about surveillance if activities are above board. I feel we are not John Connor (of the Terminator series) to live 'off' the grid. Every piece of info you give to anyone will act as surviellance: paying your bills, one has to give a home address and one has to give all details for a voter id card, driver licence, etc etc I know of a few friends who have digital cameras but are afraid to share their albums. Whats the fun in having a digicam if you don't want to share? In WWW there will always be good guys and bad guys like the real world, be careful and navigate around suspicious sites and unsolicited messages and one can be safe, no need to fear or be overly paranoid. Enjoy.

Last edited by Durango Dude : 7th February 2012 at 13:14.
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Old 7th February 2012, 13:35   #13
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

It's a bit of a problem: Unless these companies collect your personal data, they cannot personalize the advertisements you see on their sites. If the ads are not personalized you won't be visiting their sites/pages. And you don't like them collecting your personal data.

The data may not be being used for anything sinister, as of now. But yes, they do collect enough personal data to identify you if someone set their mind to it. Perhaps there are no easy means to do that today.

I do think it's a dangerous trend, because once it happens, using/misusing this information will be child's play.
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Old 7th February 2012, 14:09   #14
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

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Originally Posted by PGNarain View Post
And why make villains out of FB and Google, don't we reveal far more information opening bank accounts, getting phone/mobile connections, buying cars, buying houses, renting properties etc.
True, but that's too fragmented and basic to be of much use to someone who has a wrong intent. Say when you buy a car the data collected will not say whether you use X brand of perfume or love reading Y author or you wake up only by Z time.

But in FB and Gmail all the data gets consolidated. It's like a Master-key with access to many aspects of an individual's life including his behavioral patterns.

Last edited by Daewood : 7th February 2012 at 14:12.
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Old 7th February 2012, 14:18   #15
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Default Re: Facebook is a surveillance engine not a friend

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Originally Posted by Vasuki View Post
I agree such services are helpful, but in exact sense more than IP details etc; are stored. The Gmail for eg. gives me ad related to my profession only(ad sense). They would not have know my profession without accessing the content of my mail.
This is not a problem, its trying to help by getting some context from the content that is available within its databases, to make your life easier.

If you do not want Google/Yahoo to do that, there is a well defined option called "Opt Out", and it would then not push any advertisement or do anything with content that is inside your email. Picture here.

A Good place to start would be google dashboard (of your profile) which lists all settings of all google applications at one place.
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Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 7th February 2012 at 14:20.
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