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It reminds me of the Snowden leaks about mass surveillance programs like PRISM. I think most technical people expected something like that to exist ever since the internet became mainstream. Still, if it's just an "educated rumor" without hard evidence there's not much for the media to talk about. Up until now you could only say "it seems pretty likely that Facebook is doing something like that, but we don't know for sure". That's not enough to make an article and that's not enough to convince the general populace apparently.

In general it's pretty amazing how trusting the average human being seems to be as soon as computer are involved. I suppose that it's mostly out of ignorance and complacency. People seem a lot more careful when physical mail is involved than emails for instance. They also don't hesitate to share extremely intimate details about their private lives with a faceless corporation. Some of my friends willingly opt into streaming their position in real time continuously through their smartphones. That's terrifying to me but apparently very convenient for them. I think Zuckerberg agrees with my sentiment since that's the source of his "dumb fucks" comment.

I hope these articles will help change that mentality but I'm not overly optimistic. I read a comment on a forum earlier today that basically said "screw Facebook, I'll close my account and do everything from WhatsApp instead". I don't think it was sarcastic.

I think the trust is a new thing though, new to the social media age. I remember growing up with computers in the 90's and people I knew wouldn't even consider entering a credit card number on a website. Now we give them freely. People used anonymous handles on AIM. At some point this changed and people decided they could be themselves on the internet, which is a fine idea, but the trust just went too far.

And I believe Facebook was largely the site that got people comfortable using their real names and personas online.

Exactly. Another example is applications "phoning home" (desltop applications sending information back to the server) that not that much ago was considered a serious abuse. And people on forums would lambast you when you asked how to implement something like that. Now it's called telemetry and is the norm.

Indeed, I remember the backslash ZoneAlarm got for this. Lots of people changed to another firewall as a consequence.

This was visible when using credit cards in stores, too.

1990s: your signature needs to match exactly so we know it's really you!

2000s: you must enter a PIN that hopefully only you know?

2010s: fuck it just tap the card near the reader

Another educated rumor: As soon as Al Franken suggests regulating Facebook under Net Neutrality, pictures surface that destroy his political career.

What exactly would Net Neutrality do to Facebook?

Basically the same effect supporters were asking from NN for telecoms:


“No one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t,” said Franken. “And Facebook, Google and Amazon, like ISPs, should be neutral in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platform.”

And then one week later, his political career was suddenly over. Politicians got the message loud and clear; Don't F* with Facebook.

Is there any reason to believe that Facebook had anything to do with releasing the pictures of him groping a woman?

Stop them from making zero-rating deals with ISPs.

I doubt they'd even need to make deals. Customers would blame ISPs for Facebook being slow before they'd blame Facebook.

This doesn't even strike me as crazy or "out there" anymore, which is so sad.

> Some of my friends willingly opt into streaming their position in real time continuously through their smartphones

How do you avoid this? I have a GPS in my car with stored routing information, but if I need to navigate for someone else or get walking/biking directions, I am forced to do this. Printing out directions beforehand is something I did only a few years ago, but these days I don't always have a chance to do that.

I think he means his friends use location sharing apps, where you can actually tell people "Open this app/URL to see where I am right now.".

I remember installing a dating app one evening, and thinking "I'll look at it tomorrow.". Next evening, I opened and it said "This stranger and you were both at this subway station around noon!". Geezus Christ! I didn't even open the app the whole day! Uninstalled it straight away.

On Android, you can open your Google account settings and disable their always-on location tracking "service". Of course, you have to take Google's word for it, and that doesn't stop GPS from working for apps like Maps when you request it.

I usually leave Location services off. I'll enable them for 5-10 seconds, get the directions from Maps, then disable the Location service again. Of course, they can still estimate my location with cell towers (or WiFi, but I usually have that disabled as well), so it's not a perfect solution. Saves a lot of battery life, though.

you can can disable your access to it and its background upload to google. If you read the fine print the "anonymized" gps/cell-tower/wifi data is still used periodically by google to refine their maps etc. Same for apple, same for the GPS in your internet connected car.

I think the person you are responding to is describing something different. If you use, e.g. Google Maps, to get directions while driving, Google knows where you are in real time but no one else does. If you share your location on e.g. Facebook Messenger, your friends can see where you are for the next hour. Presumably there are other apps which will share it continuously.

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