Facebook and surveillance

Another post that spent a while in my drafts. I wrote it after Syria blocked FB and i got in a short conversation with bloggers on Mideast Youth.

One of the commenters stated that “there is no doubt that these socialisation sites like Facebook, Orkut, Hi5, Xuga, etc and even Hotmail, Yahoo, GMail and all others are connected to CIA, and CIA feeds MOSSAD when necessary”. That sparked a conversation about the degree of involvement of the intelligence agencies in monitoring the web in general and particularly FB. My interaction was actually with Tamara, with whom i think we agree and the discussion was mainly on semantics. I think my problem was primarily with an idea of CIA, or any other intelligence agency, actually being directly linked to something like FB and monitoring what is going on in there. From my point of view, that would be crossing a few red lines unacceptable “even” in the post 9/11 reality (as if to support my thoughts Washington Post published this article). In other words, assuming CIA having a pipe plugged into FB servers is going a little bit too far.

Interestingly, just a few days after that discussion, i bumped into a Newsweek article about a mysterious murder in Italy. One of the prominent points in that article is the use Italian police made of the Web in order to track the suspects. They did check out suspects’ FB profiles, their recent Google searches, and used Skype to reach one of the other suspects. However, linking this back to the CIA-Syria discussion, i think this articles makes an interesting point. It seems like when they need it, the security forces are capable of gaining the information from social networking websites and more. The articles of course does not explain how exactly they gained that access, but i don’t think it implies that there is a constant surveillance of these public spaces. Actually it seems to me that it makes quite an opposite point and in this sense the new media are no different from the more veteran technologies (phone, TV, or library for that matter).

Also, as I was reading that, i couldn’t help but think about the degree of exposure people are reaching online these days. And it is not that they were forced into it, or had actually to exchange something about themselves in return for a product or service. FB in fact does not have any content or even a product. All it provides is a platform, but the choice what to put on this platform is totally in the hands of the users. This leads me to thinking about the changing awareness and perception of privacy among the youth. What is going on there?

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2 Responses to “Facebook and surveillance”

  1. Passer-By Says:

    facebook has got a lot more exposure than Bebo which leads me to think the CIA/MOSSAD is using it for hostile intelligence gathering of citizens.

  2. Dima Says:

    Hmm… i am not sure i follow your logic…

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