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The most damning part has been the revelation of the Prism program, in which tech giants like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple and others (who the fuck cares about AOL) have been providing the government with data on their users.
So that thing you typed in Google at 2 o'clock in the morning, when you were really horny? Yeh, it's possibly stored somewhere in an NSA server, being looked over by some sweaty analyst. Have fun with that image in your mind.
As I have written before, I find Facebook's constant need to be omnipresent all over the internet discerning. And it is not only Facebook; all internet giants, and even the internet gnats, do this. At the time, I thought that the data is "only" going to advertisers, although at the back of my head, I was quite paranoid. As it turns out, it's going directly to the US government.
Every thing you do on Facebook (and even outside of it) is tracked, and the government has access to it. Same applies for Google, Twitter, Yahoo, Microsoft, etc, etc, etc. I wrote in the article that your internet personality is not your entire personality, because people have many different facades to them, of which online presence is only one. I wonder how well this holds with the government spying. The ultimate failure, I think, is when people are treated like flat bits of cardboard, as if they have only one side to them.
The NSA has an entire fleet of technologies at its fingertips. An army of computer science nerds who work on some of the most complex algorithms you can imagine, which take in all this raw data about millions of people, analyse it, and pump out patterns and red flags. These red flags are then looked over by some (very bored) humans, and if they deem a person suspicious, they get permission to collect more data, and use human spies. They have the might of the most advanced data mining tools, and such massive servers that you could store the entire collection of Law and Order episodes on them millions of times over (which, come to think of it, is a much more useful application for massive servers).
All this made me think - what sort of patterns emerge when you look at someone's data? As someone who loves taking the piss out of serious situations, I decided to analyse some (completely made up) people on Facebook, to see what I can come up with. Because, as we all know, Facebook is an immensely accurate portrayal of an entire person's life. To prove my worth, I present to you some examples.
Person No. 1
Female. Posts a constant stream of cute cat pictures all day long. Most "likes" centered around various internet cats: Maru; Grumpy Cat; Henri; Lil Bub, etc.
Possibly a militant-feminist lesbian. Has a lonely life. Doesn't like marzipan.
Person No. 2
Male. Posts links to "funny" articles, as well as pictures of six-month old memes from defunct Facebook pages.
An idiot. Could possibly be a tax fraud. That, or a burden on the welfare system and health services. A very maladjusted adult human being. Not yet an adult, despite "age" stated as being 23.
Person No. 3
Female. Posts pictures with friends at restaurants everyday. Uses "check-ins" while grocery shopping. "Likes" many movie pages (Harry Potter; Twilight; Hunger Games; etc). Studying to be a doctor at a top-notch university.
Would be a terrible doctor. Possibly a psychopath - only studying to be a doctor so that she can be a future serial-killer surgeon.
Person No. 4
Male. Posts links to articles by The Guardian and Russia Today every other day. "Likes" many political pages concerning freedom of speech and anti-war movements, as well as band pages focused on indie folk music.
A pseudo-intellectual from an upper middle-class family, sick of his "privilege". Dangerous chances of turning in to a Marxist, with the right Liberal Arts education or Tumblr account.
Person No. 5
Male. Constantly barrages his 547 Facebook "friends" with requests to like his start-up business page. Posts things related to "social media engineering".
Bullshit alert. There is no such thing as "social media engineering". Only exists in the mind of wannabe Silicon Valley masturbatory dreams. Hence, is a liar, a maladjusted human being and could possibly turn out to be a Nigerian Prince.
Person No. 6
Female. Studying to be an engineer in a top nerd school. Likes video games and knitting.
Likes pages like "yarn bombing". Hence, could be a potential terrorist. High alert.
So there you have it. I think I have proved my worth as a data analyst with even these brief bits of public Facebook data. Imagine what I am capable of with more information. So please email me with usernames and passwords to all your online accounts. I promise I won't abuse that information in any way whatsoever. Pinky promise.