18.6.13

Let Me Spy on You

As you may know (unless you have been actively trying to avoid the news), the US government agency, the NSA, has been spying on you. They have your phone calls recorded, your emails analysed and sifted through all your drunken Facebook messages. 

Edward Snowden's over-used face.
Are you tired of seeing this face? Well here it is again, for SEO purposes.

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.

Red flags

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. 

Red flags

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. 

Red flags

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.

Red flags

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".

Red flags

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.

Red flags

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.

13 comments:

  1. Person 1 doesn't like marzipan? Straight to guantanamo with them!

    Also "social media engineer" is marvellous job. Imagine being paid to post on Twitter all day. Bliss...

    ReplyDelete
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    1. There is a war going on between the noble people who like marzipan and the disgusting traitors who prefer chocolate. We, as a people, fully support the use of delicious marzipan on cakes. God made marzipan to be put on cakes.

      The marzipan haters must be dealt with swiftly and justly.

      Delete
  2. Hahaha I love this! I read a lot of true crime articles and when I was 15 I went through a weird two-month phase of calling everything "da bomb" - so I reckon I'm on the #1 undesirable list x

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    Replies
    1. You have used those unholy words on my blog! Now I will be under NSA surveillance.

      Mind you, I must already be a red hot target ever since they saw my truly depressive robot poetry.

      Delete
  3. It isn't only the government... You're boss may be monitoring your email too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, definitely your work email, but surely personal email accounts are safe?

      Delete
  4. Companies do access Facebook pages, as evidenced by the person caught abusing the money she was receiving for being on "medical leave" by posting on Facebook that she was hiking in the mountains. If you want something to be private, don't post it on the internet.

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    Replies
    1. Well, if she was that stupid, she deserved it. But companies will only look at Facebook info that has been made public. It's not like they'll hack in to your Facebook account (at least not yet).

      Delete
  5. As a writer, I'd love to know what they think of me. For our zombie novel, I had to do extensive research on what human flesh tastes like (sweet beef, if you're wondering - so sweet that most people throw up the first time they taste it). I also had to look up certain ways that people get killed and how it affects their bodies. Or how much fire it takes to burn down a building. So should I expect a knock on my door, and some suit looking for a murderous cannibalistic arsonist?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, interesting thing about human flesh :O People always insist that everything tastes like chicken. Had no idea that it would be SWEET of all things. I've heard similar things about kangaroo meat, although I've never had it.

      Who were those budding cannibals who found out about what human flesh tastes like?

      Hey, if some suits knock down your door, you can politely point them to your book. We will all testify for you ;D

      Delete
    2. I recently thought what humans smell like when they burn...so would it be a BBQ smell? You know, just out of curiosity!

      Delete
    3. I was born in East Germany, we had spies everywhere. There was someone probably checking that I didn't come out with some West money or terrorist handbook.

      Back then we all knew we were spied on...sort of more honest eh..well uh...carry on.

      Delete
    4. Even now, most people reacted with "well, we all knew this was going on". It's a bit sad that we expect our governments to abuse their power by default.

      Delete