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Many many people besides a public figure like Stallman have written a blog or participated in a newsgroup.


Let's just see what can be done without Facebook:

You (pessimizer) have listed your email address pessimizer@xxxxxx .

  You have an HN comment history.
  Your email pops up in google under Arkansas
  You commented on a Django topic.
  I could infer your set of HN buddies (maybe not including myself now!).
All those methods are almost as bad as facebook for disclosing information.

If you use a pseudonym to hide from those - why don't you use a pseudonym as your facebook account??


I haven't listed my email, but I'm pretty sure people could work out who I was and where I lived from my comment history. But I am reasonably happy that the reward of not having to screen all my comments for incriminating info is worth the risk of someone figuring it out.

(edit with an example)

You make some good points, but I think there's a difference between having a few personal details about someone and surveillance. The clincher with Facebook is the amount of detailed information about the time and place that you are doing things, all in the hands of a single private entity. There's no telling what kind of analysis this data gives them and perhaps law enforcement (if not today, tomorrow?). For example, a few weeks ago there was a post circulating about how FB inferred the location of a photo without any location information in the exif data. Even if you use their ever-changing privacy controls to hide your data from people you don't know, Facebook still has access to all of it.

I've never used Django, I don't have any HN buddies, I haven't lived in Arkansas for 15 years, and you are currently replying to a piece of my very public HN history on HN.

Point taken, and partially agreed with, but the fact that facebook is systematically doing this about every aspect of every individual's life would guarantee that getting better info than you got about me, in a shorter time, would be trivial.

I meant no harm, and was just a 5 second google in a White Hat fashion. If you see some of the other posts on this topic, the same 5-second-google got some better results.

I imagine there are data-mining companies that are crawling the interwebs systematically to collect detailed information.

Facebook is the motherlode of course, no doubt about it.

No offense taken at all, and it's a good point. It's just that what facebook is doing makes random googling look primitive.

Fell, isn't using a pseudonym something FB allows? "Facebook users provide their real names and information, and we need your help to keep it that way"

Read their term http://www.facebook.com/legal/terms they are things like "transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook"

As Stallman pointed out in the interview, the scale of the monitoring is on a different level of what you can do manually. No matter how hard you try, you will not know what websites pessimizer has visited, FB got a list of his/her visits on any site that contains a like button (doesn't matter if he/she uses FB).

Beside the scale of information disclosed, that's how it can be used or not. I'm pretty sure I can decide what products are endorsed on my blog, not so much on FB, and if we visit pessimizer site, no one will now. On FB, they could use this information to know pessimizer better. Guilty by association ;)

I use a mangled pseudonym on FB, and entered a misleading DOB... how are they supposed to know?

Probably they have some common heuristics to spot a fake, but those cannot be too clever.


Re: Scale of monitoring

Does this not just make the haystack bigger for the same number of needles?

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