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Garland Robinette

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Garland: 1984 is here!

Whoa!  I just got on Facebook and I already want off!  

As usual whenever I get involved in a project I read and research, quite a lot.  What I found so far in the social media universe is enough to make me ask anyone, “Why are you on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram , or any social media?”  Here is why I ask.

From a Reuters report by Jim Urquhart: “Reuters hopes you’re not shy, because there’s a good chance you’re being watched by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.  According to a government document, the DHS has been monitoring social media as well as select blogs and message boards for more than a year.”  Reuters found this out by filing a privacy compliance review last November, but the surveillance has been going on since June 2010.  Among the sites monitored by Homeland Security are the New York Times’ Lede Blog, the Drudge Report and Huffington Post, as well as two Wired blogs. Many lesser-known names are also included on the list.

Then there is Google.  The entire European Union is afraid of it.  Regulators in 20 countries are investigating Google’s new privacy policy.  Led by France’s data protection agency, the EU is submitting 12 recommendations that would allow customers to know about the type and scope of information being collected without their knowledge.  Google’s privacy policy suggests the absence of any limit concerning the scope of their collection and uses of personal data.  Users don’t know what kind of information is retained in the services they use, and they don’t know why.  The EU will attempt to force Google to obey their laws.

An October 12, 2012 Wall Street Journal article entitled “When the Most Personal Secrets Get Outed 0n Facebook” details how a number of young gays who had kept their sexual preferences from the parents were outed to their parents and the entire world, against their wishes.  They had simply joined gay organizations, such as a gay choir…then, unbeknownst to them, those organizations posted their memberships as a “Facebook group,” which in turn automatically showed up on all the member’s Facebook pages.
The same article also details how another young girl lost disability insurance benefits for depression when friends posted photos of her with drink in hand on their Facebook page.

Leaders of the ACLU say, “Facebook has slowly slipped the defaults on its software to reveal more information about people to the public and to Facebook’s corporate partners.  Users are often unaware of the extent to which their information is available.  When sensitive information is released, it is often impossible to put the cat back in the bag.”

BusinessWeek reports that Big Brother wants your Facebook password if you want to work for them.  States such as Virginia, Maryland, and Montana (to name only a few) have required job applicants for government jobs to give up their social network passwords.  Those applicants are required to open their accounts and files for the interviewers to read while the applicants are sitting across from them.  The only delay in the requirement is a current lawsuit by the ACLU to stymie the practice.  And, some schools are requiring scholarship athletes to turn over their entire Facebook history and passwords for monitoring by coaches and athletic departments.

It took the British press to find out that Homeland Security monitors are watching the very words we use (“Ten of the Stranger Words on the Homeland Security Watch List,” by Jeff Balke, Tue., May 29, 2012).  Words like cloud, wave, canceled, San Diego, smart, pork, sleet and help.  Have you used any of those words while on social media, media websites, or anonymous comment sections?  Careful, they’re watching!

Facebook is growing at warp speed.  It is the de facto King of the Hill of the social media universe.  Each person’s Facebook page is being revamped to appear as a Timeline stretching back to birth.  Does that mean that in the future there will be no place to hide? No nook or cranny to not be seen by a “friend?”

Wait for it…wait for it…you knew it was coming.  George Orwell’s “1984,” Big Brother’s watchful eye, is omnipresent.  It is a terrifying story of a world without privacy.  

The powers that be say, "Don’t worry, we’ll do the right thing with your information."  I don’t believe them.

Tags :  
Topics : Technology_Internet
Social :
Locations : MarylandMontanaSan DiegoVirginia
People : George OrwellJeff BalkeJim Urquhart

10/17/2012 9:31AM
Garland: 1984 is here!
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