Anonymous Targets Facebook

Facebook. One of the world’s greatest evils. Killing innocent civilians, torching homes, and… Oh wait. No that was something else (Myspace). Facebook just has a pretty bad privacy policy. Well, Anonymous has them in their cross-hairs, but are they right in doing so?

Here’s the facts:

Anonymous has said they will attack Facebook on November 5th 2011.

They made one of their fancy pants videos and put it on YouTube.

Some notable quotes:

“Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world.”

“Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your ‘privacy’ settings, and deleting your account is impossible, even if you ‘delete’ your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time. Changing the privacy settings to make your Facebook account more ‘private’ is also a delusion. Facebook knows more about you than your family.”

Ok, so those are the facts. Now strap in for my rant.

Let me start by saying that I, for the most part, appreciate what Anonymous is doing. They obviously have a skilled group of hackers at their disposal and their traditional DDoS attacks are like a modern day Sit-in protest. It’s relatively non-destructive and it makes a statement. I can get behind a movement like that. On the contrary, for arguments sake, the London rioters seem like children who think they know better. Basically they personify the lyrics to that Billy Joel song “Angry Young Man.”

OK, so back to Anonymous. Now of all their attacks, I think Facebook is the least warranted. First of all, as you read, they are calling out Facebook for revealing all my information to evil government masterminds and Dr. Evil and so on. If this were true, which I doubt it is, I think the public would be slightly more aware of it. These days, Facebook can’t dot an ‘i’ in their privacy policy without the internet losing their minds. How would the line “Oh, and we’ll sell your info to wrong-doers everywhere” go unnoticed?

Sure, you can make the argument that they don’t explicitly say it, and that they keep it a secret and it’s all a big cover up. The world loves another conspiracy. Remember when 9/11 was an inside job? Or how about that moon landing? Look, I’ll be honest, it’s always interesting to read these conspiracy theories. If you dig deep enough into any story, you’ll be able to find something that’s odd about it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a conspiracy.

Facebook Advertiser Form

Now let’s be clear here, Facebook absolutely 100% uses your information to help advertisers get their messages in front of you. When I say “your information,” I don’t mean you, I’m talking about the collective. At no point can an advertiser find you, personally, and read all of your wall posts or messages. The advertiser can only narrow down their audience by the type of person they’re targeting and send the ad out. So for example, they want to advertise to 18-25 year old males who like snowboarding. They can select “males” who are “18-25” years old, and are interested in snowboarding. Facebook then gives them a projected reach, lets say 100,000 people, and then charges them accordingly. The idea that this is somehow “evil” is just ridiculous. This is how advertising works. This is why you see ads for video games and pizza on G4TV, and ads for make up and tampons on Bravo. It’s marketing.

OK, so advertisers aren’t the issue, maybe Facebook is being evil and selling all of my info to private security firms and the government.

Well, if that’s the case, where’s the proof? I’m sorry, but I don’t jump behind a cause that’s based on a hunch. If it’s the truth, prove it to me. I’ll support you if it is. Until you can prove it though, I’m not budging.

The simple truth is that while Facebook has a history of being stupid, that doesn’t mean they are now. Small companies have a knack for not playing by the rules, sometimes in a good way, like the article I posted yesterday, and sometimes in a “I can’t believe these idiots trust me with their private messages” way. The thing is though, as these infant companies grow, they learn that they must take things more seriously. Not everything, but some things. Zuckerberg, for example, has probably learned the lesson of screwing with people’s privacy. If he wants to keep his precious Facebook from going the route of MySpace, he’ll make sure he plays by the rules.

So for the TL:DR crowd, let me close with this. If there is proof of this great injustice that Facebook is being accused of, bring it forward. If there is none though, don’t fire cannons based on a rumor. Like I said earlier, I support the idea of Anonymous. I like their motives of bringing protest to those who have done wrong, but if they want to be taken seriously by the general public, they can’t fire on all cannons without being absolutely sure that their cause is just. They have the potential and the talent to massively change the world in which we live, but if they make rash decisions on little evidence, they’re only going to be hurting themselves in the end.

5 thoughts on “Anonymous Targets Facebook”

  1. I heard too, that the CIA has operatives that have been infiltrating groups on Facebook and collecting informations on group members.


  2. I never want to tend towards the conspiracy theory line of thought, but at the same time, I can’t really accept personal doubt as proof that something doesn’t happen. And a lack of evidence is not evidence.

    I don’t actually have any information regarding specific Facebook cooperation with government agencies. However, if it occurred, the practice wouldn’t surprise me. Back in early 2010, Google launched a tool called Government Requests. The tool provides some information regarding which countries have requested user information, and how many they have complied with (the U.S. government requested information 4,601 times, and Google complied 94% of those times, for those wondering).

    Earlier this year, Twitter received a subpoena from the U.S. government demanding information on people related to WikiLeaks. The subpoena also came with a gag order forbidding Twitter from informing anyone about it. It only made news because Twitter fought the gag order in court and won. Not that this helps the people that are the subject of the subpoena, but rather that it simply gave Twitter the right to inform those users so that they may defend themselves.

    On a less important note, I used to work for a private investigations company. It was a small, regional investigations company that mainly investigated insurance claims. Even there, one of the first things they did was profile claimants using one of several fake Facebook accounts. It’s not official cooperation, but it’s obvious that the information on Facebook is of use to all levels of law-enforcement.

    I’m not exactly sure what Facebook’s level of active cooperation is, but I think it’s a little naive to assume that there’s nothing going on behind the scenes simply because we don’t hear of it. The only time we seem to hear about government requests for user data is when tech companies either volunteer the information, or fight to protect their users rights. I’m not sure that it’s even something that would show up in privacy policies, in many situations, since they don’t need users to agree that they understand they will (or might) cooperate with court-ordered subpoenas. 

    1. If I’m not mistaken your Facebook profile can be accessed by law enforcement officials by simply submitting a form. That’s regardless of privacy settings or even a “good” warrant (as in if they are in the information gathering step of an investigation). Obviously warrants get bumped to the top and other requests are handled on a case by case but that isn’t necessarily clear on the Facebook TOS.

      That said, Anonymous, should they decide to attack Facebook, would be seen as internet bullies by Facebook users. The average user will not find the disruption an act against Big Brother but as an attack on their ability to post drunken/bathroom mirror/grandchildren pictures and the occassional Bible verse/fortune cookie/words of wisdom status update.

    2. I agree that the lack of evidence is not evidence in itself, but outright claims without any basis for such is just sensationalism. I’d like to think Facebook doesn’t sell my info off to others, and If Twitter and Google fought to be open about it, I’d imagine Facebook would have done the same if put in the same situation. It’s all a guessing game at this point. My main concern is that Anonymous doesn’t make foolish decisions in the interest of publicity. They have the potential to be a great movement for the 21st century, they shouldn’t squander on things they’re not absolutely sure of.

  3. Perhaps Anonymous missed the seminal text, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Taking out FB will not endear them to the masses.

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