|La Garrigue (moderate)|
I’m going to rant today. You can ignore my anger and frustration by just looking at the photos of a group of sims I happened upon. They’re much less moody and emo than the images imply, but I was not in a happy state of mind.
The revelation that Governments are insisting on access to personal data collected by various telcos and social networking sites has resulted in justifiable outrage. It was, however, in my mind inevitable. Think about it, if you were a data analyst and knew that there was a ginormous source of raw material, collected by somebody else, wouldn’t you salivate over the prospect of using it? Of course you would. Having the authority to simply demand a copy of it would make the prospect irresistible.
I won’t say that I felt smug, just that my fears were minimized because of the very restricted amount of information I give anybody. Honour is public and known in many areas – my real life is not. At least that’s what I thought.
Something happened this week that revealed that the situation is even worse than we believed. I decided to stop muttering under my breath and vent out loud.
I’ve expressed on previous occasions my concern about the passive assignment of rights that results from Terms of Service on various sites. For example, if somebody pins one of my photos on Pinterest my work is then subject to their TofS whether I signed on to it or not. This bothered me – but not as much as it should have.
You might have seen stories this week about a bug that was detected on Facebook. For a full year, if you did something called Download Your Information, you received data on your contacts that was often more than you knew about them↑. The reason you might suddenly have their telephone number, or 3 other email addresses, was that Facebook creates a Shadow Profile↑ of everybody and links information they receive about that individual from each person who has them as a contact.
So, if they’re on 3 contact lists, the data is cross-referenced and aggregated and stored in this Shadow Profile. “According to the admissions in its blog, posted late Friday afternoon, Facebook appears to be obtaining users’ offsite email address and phone numbers and attempting to match them to other accounts.” It gets worse.
If you’ve uploaded your contacts to Facebook (and sign up to the site) they keep them. Even if a contact is NOT a Facebook member. That’s right – I’m not on $%(& Facebook, but many people I know are. That means I have a Shadow Profile where every bit of data about me, known to acquaintances, friends and family, is cross-referenced and stored.
The justification for this is multi-leveled. First of all, when you signed on to the Facebook TofS you agreed to having your contacts’ information stored↑. I didn’t agree to have my personal information collected, or cross-referenced, or archived in perpetuity by this entity, but it doesn’t matter. You see, according to them my data belongs to you↑ since it’s part of your contact list.
“(…) Our first question asked that, in the name of common decency and privacy, would Facebook ever commit to automatically discarding information of individuals that do not have a known Facebook account? Possibly age it out X days if they don’t respond to an invite due to a friend uploading their information without their knowledge?
Their response was essentially that they think of contacts imported by a user as the user’s data and they are allowed to do with it what they want..”
“We were basically met with the same reasoning as above and in their wording they actually went as far as claiming that it would be a freedom of speech violation”.
If you think about it for a moment, and remember playing the game of Six Degrees of Separation↑, the number of Facebook users means that there are very few people in the world who won’t have a Shadow Profile. That data will look like a candy store to more than just Government data analysts.
In Second Life, and in many virtual environments such as social networks, we feel like we’re maintaining our privacy through avatars. We’re wrong. Linking Honour to her real world identity will have been done because people have my different email addresses and names. Now Facebook does as well. Do No Harm has a very different meaning to some people than it does to the rest of us.
|La Pinede (moderate)|