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Facebook is Watching!

April 26, 2009

by Mike Sanch 2/20/09

With the advent of internet 2.0, social networking sites have become a defining feature for the second phase of the internet age., and other sites like it, has been progressively popular amongst the younger generations. Increasingly these sites, especially, have seen an uptick in usage, represented by a wider range in the demographics of users.

Amongst the leading social networking sites, is conceivably the most frequently used amongst college students, influential, and technologically engaged business people.

When Facebook was founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, it was intended to merely be a site where people could compare pictures of each other. However, it quickly gained the attention of prominent people within the internet and data mining community, and investments were made to make the Facebook much more than it was.

Who is Behind the Rise of Facebook?

Zuckerberg was a college student at the time he originally conceived the idea for the website. So his monetary capital was rather limited. However through luck and ambition, he was able to gain the interest of the co-founder of PayPal, Peter Thiel, who quickly moved to invest $500,000 in the early summer of 2004. After this initial investment, the money came pouring in from venture capitalist with ties to data mining industries.

Accel Partners, which is managed by James Breyer, who along with Gilman Louie, served on the board of In-Q-Tel; invested over $12 million dollars into facebook.

This is significant because In-Q-Tel has been proven to have been established by the C.I.A. in 1999; yes the C.I.A. In-Q-Tel’s main business is data mining.

Dr. Anita Jones has sat on the board with both Breyer and Gilman Louie at In-Q-Tel, and in addition, she was an adviser to the Secretary of Defense overseeing the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). DARPA handles high-tech developments for the data mining program that is funded by the government. The program and bureaucratic office is called the Information Awareness Office, whose mission statement is,

“the IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralized location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver’s licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data.”

When reading these words, do not leave out the fact that the I.A.O. is armed with funding and the Patriot Act as well; and as we all know, if you give a bureaucrat power, they will use it.

The Recent Attempt to Data Mine

Before February 2009, the service and terms agreements included language like,

“by posting Member Content to any part of the Web site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to facebook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license to use, copy, perform, display, reformat, translate, excerpt and distribute such information and content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorpoate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorise sublicenses of the foregoing.”

It continues,

“Facebook may also collect information about you from other sources, such as newspapers, blogs, instant messaging services, and other users of the Facebook service through the operation of the service (eg. photo tags) in order to provide you with more useful information and a more personalised experience. By using Facebook, you are consenting to have your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States”

Translation: Whatever, or whenever you post or upload to Facebook, it is legally theirs to keep and use however way they want to. Which includes sharing it to anyone they want to.

The key difference is the “kill-switch”. The “kill switch” refers to the oppurtunity to delete the profile or items on the profile never to be brought up again. This was beneficial to the user or any person with a profile because they can choose to delete files, photos, tags, or whatever kind of information they wanted to, and Facebook’s right to that material would be lost.

However in February 2009, Facebook moved to rewrite their service and terms agreement to include a clause that will allow them to mine and store the information they get from your use of the website indefinately. Regardless if you choose to delete it or not, the information will be stored and they will have a legal right to use it in the future.

Therefore, they can hypothetically save your info, and 20 years down the road have exclusive rights to your life’s story despite cutting your ties with Facebook. To have a more cynical take; they will know everything about what makes you an individual forever.

This is dangerous in so many ways, and considering that Facebook already has indirect connections to government data mining agencies and bureaucrats; it may prove beneficial to your personal security and safety to abstain from posting too many personal details about your life and associations.



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