The privatized 'public' space makes an inevitable move.
Facebook can no longer stake any preposterous claim to "help people connect better". It is a business entity - always has been - and does not give half a damn about "making the world a better place", or whatever corporate marketing catchphrase they use right now.
Related to recent events or not, the privatized internet is continuing to backlash with severe consequences for anyone dependent on Tor to ensure that their tyrant government doesn't come knocking on their door just for speaking their mind.
It's a lot more than just a business entity, unfortunately.
The government tends to look out for and protect its biggest corporate partners, particularly those that play a strategic role (think: Boeing). The major Internet services companies are now protected government sponsored entities, just like Verizon and AT&T.
The Feds can never risk the potential that the massive orgy of data that Facebook makes possible - both domestically and globally - might unravel or be challenged by competitors that might threaten the 'total information awareness' system they've built. I would argue Facebook's well being is now considered a national security interest for the US Government, as there are few other sources that provide easy access to the lives of a billion people around the world.
I think that intelligence speaking, one of the biggest value of Facebook for NSA type agencies is to crawl into someones life and identifies someones friends and relationships going back to elementary school. Thanks to Facebook it's now possible with a simple click to find friends and possible connections in your past for which there was no easy paper trail before.
As an European I never understood what is the "strategic" interest of Washington to protect the telecom companies. This might have made sense 20 years ago, but now that these companies tend to become like any other utility companies I don't see why the Government would care if they break up or if new (possibly foreign) competitors appear.
Because I think yashkadakia's Google link was too oblique a response, here's my answer: the concerns are that A) a foreign owned U.S. telecom might refuse to provide the data NSA or other government agencies want (or reveal that they had been asked) and B) a foreign owned U.S. telecom might do the same sort of spying on behalf of their "home" country.
To add to this, the value of the duopoly of AT&T and Verizon, is also the ease of having two targets that make up the extreme majority of all telephone calls / wireless data / and a lot of broadband access. If you're the government and you want to spy on domestic calls and data, it sure beats having to deal with a market in which dozens of companies split the marketshare. This last point is also one of the reasons why the former telecom monopoly of the old AT&T was allowed to be recombined after having been split into pieces.
> Facebook can no longer stake any preposterous claim to "help people connect better".
Why not? Facebook does help billions of people connect better. Yes, it is a business entity and what's wrong with that? Does this make it inherently evil? Do non business entity do a better job at "making the world a better place"? Look at the latest NSA scandal to get an idea. At least we're not forced to pay Facebook with our tax money like we do with the NSA. But sure, business are the devil. Oh, and to stay on topic, if you want to be mad at something, be mad at those dictators forcing people to use TOR, not Facebook. TOR is also a great tools for spammers and Facebook has to fight spam too if it wants to survive as a business.
"Using free software, Tor has enabled roughly 36 million people around the world to experience freedom of access and expression on the Internet while keeping them in control of their privacy and anonymity."
The fsf is against the use of Facebook, so quoting them on using Tor to access Facebook is kind of funny. Plus, I doubt those 36 million people are all activists. Actually, the article itself says thousands, not millions.
Fighting spam based on the content is a great idea. I don't think it's sufficient for the web. Specifically, email spam and spam on the web have different characteristics: with email, you try to send more, so there's a tendency for keeping it short. On the web, you can go on; you want to skip spam filters, because more people can run across it, and you can get more google juice. You can pull in a big corpus of well-formed sentences, and randomly draw dozens from that. There may be specific topics that get more spam on Facebook, but I have no idea how much overlap there is with Facebook at large.
First, you seem to imply that a privately-owned public space is a bad thing. What alternatives do you envision? Wouldn't a space regulated and controlled by governmental entities or NGOs be just as liable to abuse?
Second, when you speak about "Facebook," what do you mean? Do you mean that the people who work there don't care about helping people connecting there? That Mark Zuckerberg personally doesn't care? Or that the corporate entity of Facebook has some sort of conscious will of its own separate from the will of its employees?
Third, you seem to imply there's an obvious reason why Facebook blocked TOR that furthers their business interests. Can you elaborate on what that is?
The alternative is a federated model where you can one of many platform providers (or set up your own) and they can all "talk" to each other to create a "space" which is owned by no single entity. An open standard, defined by many participants, creates the "space." This is the way email works. It's the way XMPP works for messaging (and which has been stabbed in the back by Google by dropping their support of it in crucial ways). The Diaspora Project has the same concept for social networking in a Facebook-ish way.
I didn't RTFA but use of Tor can impair Facebook's tracking of people, thus making the data about people less valuable commodities to sell to their advertisers. Using Tor may also increase Facebook's network usage a bit by making less use of cached data, locally and remotely.
>The privatized 'public' space makes an inevitable move.
An anarchist collective wrote something you may find interesting on this subject, "The Internet as New Enclosure
Digitized Capitalism, the Attention Economy, and the Surveillance State" although I doubt the author(s) would agree that any enclosure of public space is "inevitable" as you put it.
You either get a free and open Internet where a company like Facebook is free to open and close its doors as it pleases, or you get a regulated and governed Internet where you're granted access with an ID that ties all of your activity back to you.
I for one am immensely proud to be part of the civilization that created the free and open Internet, and will fight tooth and nail to keep such an option available to people.
This is ridiculous. They're not part of a conspiracy. They're businesses that sometimes have a strategic advantage for the government, for which the government requires a legal precedent to access. That is all. Stop with the dramatic hyperbole.
"A number of users have noticed that Facebook is blocking connections from the Tor network. Facebook is not blocking Tor deliberately. However, a high volume of malicious activity across Tor exit nodes triggered Facebook's site integrity systems which are designed to protect people who use the service. Tor and Facebook are working together to find a resolution."
Your definition of "conspiracy theory" is way too low. Many sites block Tor, it is not even remotely out of the possibility that they could have blocked Tor exit nodes, or will in the future. I run a Tor exit node on a static IP address, I have firsthand experience with this.
Ok, thanks for the clarification, I missed the context. As a side note I think functionally they serve that purpose, but were never created to be so; they simply cannot resist the compelling power of the state under which they have been licensed as a taxable entity and are subject to its laws and leaders...
I did not see this, posted a reply to the top comment myself, upvoting you and deleting my comment, I agree this should be the top comment to stop us from going on* debating and speculating with little to no information.
The article simply states the issue. Its not up to the writer to come up with excuses for facebook, which if you are really hot on bad journalists you would rightly write off a mere speculation. Its up to facebook to explain their position. If their excuse turns out to be a reasonable reason, then lets hear it.
Not necessarily - if their goal is to get Facebook to reverse the change (which I imagine it is based on the fact that the website is based in an area with a lot of civil unrest), then providing reasonable rationalization in the article isn't what you want to do.
In that case this isn't journalism but propaganda (even if its the good kind). Lobbyists do the same thing yet we all hate them for it, these guys shouldn't get a free pass and get to call it journalism if they aren't portraying both sides.
I don't think Facebook is really obligated to explain especially if its for some security reason or automatic. What's bad about the article is that it leads you down a certain way of thinking without really saying so.
A lot of IRC networks block Tor exit nodes too. Since exit nodes are in short supply, it seems reasonable that there's a high likelihood each one has been used to launch attacks/spam Facebook and was consequently blacklisted.
Google takes a similar approach - if you use Tor there's a high chance it'll accuse you of being a bot and require a CAPTCHA.
A CAPTCHA makes sense, it wouldn't be difficult for Facebook to implement that, force a log in if people are from visiting through TOR (people really probably shouldn't check "remember me" anyway in this case).
Yes, and we block tor as well for this reason. It's mainly used by spammers and trolls on our site. Unfortunately tor doesn't/can't do anything about its spam problem (unlike hidemyass who will kick off trolls). This means it's pretty much useless for anyone wanting to use it legitimately because eventually some asshole will get you blocked.
But in a broader sense, it does. If it's a temporary automatic block, that has different implications for who you protest against than if it is a manual block put in at the behest of the House of Saud, say, or at the request of America's NSA.
The world is so different place in unsafe countries, people might be playing with their lives(and lives of their close ones) for doing this stuff. It's not unlikely for a totalitarian government to assassinate opposition, to physically kill activists. You say that's wrong, but I ask whatcha gonna do about it?
Sure, and this is most probably an expected possibility, but also the only way to operate safely. Exposing your name and your political stance along with activism can get you killed.
Of course the reliance on US based(of all Western countries) company through which all the stuff gets organized and through which the communications happen might have to be questioned -- but the status quo is that there are no viable alternatives and it's very unlikely to change due to the nature of the market.
This point might be more important than anyone gives it credit for. Six days ago PG said that someone was running an "abusive distributed crawler" through Tor. Quite possible that Facebook would ban for the exact same reasons.
I've noticed this too in the past week, for me HN won't even load so i need to either use a regular browser or read another news site.
Personally I think its shameful if this is being done intentionally
EDIT: Right now it seems to be fine
That might be the "whole point" but that is not how everyone uses it. I have a facebook account myself which contains nothing but a username, a generic artsy avatar and a list of popular facebook pages I like to keep tabs on. I dont share any personal information and I dont have "friends" on facebook.
This is all purely out of convenience. If I wanted to go full on stealth mode I could have used Tor at which point my account would not give facebook any information apart from a couple of "like" clicks from a super generic gray faced account.
Activists can create these accounts and have a place where they can tell the world about their experiences without risk of being found out. They dont need to give out their IP addresses, they dont need to give out addresses. All they need is a cause and a way to speak and, given luck, people will start listening.
Now at least one small avenue of communication has been closed.
I find this a bit ironic because the future of the web is a free self-organizing darknet. Someday data that users wish to share will be stored cryptographically in a true "cloud" sort of like bitcoin, and I'm not really sure what the value of facebook will be in an environment like that. Maybe the ability to store things temporarily or delete them somehow?
Facebook seems to connect you to anything except the future..
I disagree. Only 20 years ago the GP would be saying "Only techies use email, web, etc."
People get better at this stuff, but slowly. The current privacy issue is growing in the public consciousness, spurring action from "techies". Maybe 20 years from now easy to use encryption will be the norm, even among regular people.
That's a fair point. However, I still see the contraction of skills being greater as the web caters to those without them, and people's skill atrophying.
For instance, Facebook messaging vs instant messaging. For most standard users I know, they have literally lost any reason to use an alternate client, and many of them will probably never become familiar with one as a result.
Anyway, its a wait and see situation, hopefully we are both around to see!
Isn't HTTPS connection enough to protect from snooping regimes? If the foreign government won't block FB access completely, user can go to https://www.facebook.com and will know that their data can only be seen by Facebook? Of course if government is blocking FB access, then I understand the need of TOR.
Not really. You wouldn't use TOR and have a sign saying "hey I live here", that obviously defeats the purpose.
Imagine you're in Egypt and you lead a political party that is targeted by other parties or even the government. People will still follow your stream and information (facebook also has pages) it doesn't matter if you filled out a "profile".
Or maybe you just want to follow that political page without anyone finding out. Create an account with fake information, it's simple and useful.
I really doubt they care about tracking you that much. Tor is so infrequently used that it's not worth the trouble to force you to log in without it just to track you. Maybe if teenage girls were using Tor I might be inclined to agree but right now it's just not worth the effort for a few nerds.
well facebook won't be able to see you(your IP loc), but VPN is not completely safe as they are required to keep logs + there's also Money trail(credit card) leading directly to you, negating the effect of Tor whatsoever.
Before the downvote brigade comes out in full force, stop and think a second. The US government is building its own map of all our social connections for everyone worldwide, not just suspects but everyone. It will know the names of everyone you know, how well you know them, even down to the date that you met them and dates that you were in the same location together.
Why WOULD anyone who cares about their anonymity use Facebook? I am wondering why I use Facebook even.
There needs to be a way to have a foot in each world. Total online privacy and anonymity when you want it, and ability to use facebook, twitter, hacker news, and other sites where you know and expect to be tracked.
Like Chrome's "incognito mode" that extends beyond cookies to an anonymous network identity. Like using Tor through a VPN tunnel, I guess.
I think we should separate the things which aren't so important to protect (FB conversations, Reddit comments, Netflix traffic, etc.) from the things which MUST be private and secure (bank data, classified data, misc. data which you want guarantees about security on). Different sandboxes for different things. There's no reason my Pinterest account needs to be as secure as my government's troop deployments.
Facebook is supposed to be a site where you use your real identity and therefore seems like a bad choice for activists trying to keep their identity hidden. Twitter seems like a better solution which is still mainstream and the public nature of it makes it easier to communicate with the outside world.
activists are using facebook pages to lobby behind causes they do not use their real names so they are not arrested by oppressive regimes. there are many pages with millions of fans run this way. all at risk now.
If activists want a potential mass audience, facebook is an essential part of of that. Something private will not get to most people. Its the exact same reason it is hard to compete with facebook. Its is a virtual monopoly.
"Force"? No. But by using that word you are in the same disingenuous camp the "what have you got to hide" people. I mean, why bother about privacy at all, no one is "forced" to use the internet. Why bother about anything facebook does, no one is forced to use it.
Ah, the "if you don't like it - move to Russia" doctrine. Rather than racing to the bottom, why shouldn't the glaring problems simply be addressed?
Being grateful for health and freedom is one thing - being so grateful as to not put them to use, or let them slip away, is another. If Facebook has made a change for the worse, it's worth talking about.