A Venezuelan government minister on Wednesday urged citizens to shut Facebook accounts to avoid being unwitting informants for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, referring to recent revelations about U.S. surveillance programs. Edward Snowden, a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who is stuck in a Moscow airport while seeking to avoid capture by the United States, last month leaked details about American intelligence agencies obtaining information from popular websites including Facebook. "Comrades: cancel your Facebook accounts, you've been working for free as CIA informants...
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Santiago Swallow may be one of the most famous people no one has heard of.
His eyes fume from his Twitter profile: he is Hollywood-handsome with high cheekbones and dirty blond, collar-length hair. Next to his name is one of social media’s most prized possessions, Twitter’s blue “verified account” checkmark. Beneath it are numbers to make many in the online world jealous: Santiago Swallow has tens of thousands of followers. The tweets Swallow sends them are cryptic nuggets of wisdom that unroll like scrolls from digital fortune cookies: “Before you lose weight, find hope,” says one. Another: “To write is to live endlessly.”
Swallow is a pure product of the Internet: a “speaker and thinker,” who specializes in “re-imagining self in the online age,” an apparent star of the prestigious TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference, and a hit at Austin’s annual art, technology and music event, South By South West (SXSW).
On the symbiotic relationship increasingly being revealed between government intelligence agencies and internet corporations, Facecrooks writes:
In another twist in what was already a complicated story about Facebook’s involvement in the National Security Agency’s PRISM wiretapping technology, the New York Times revealed that Max Kelly, Facebook’s former security chief, left the site in 2010 and joined the NSA.
“Mr. Kelly’s move to the spy agency, which has not previously been reported, underscores the increasingly deep connections between Silicon Valley and the agency and the degree to which they are now in the same business,” the Times wrote. “Both hunt for ways to collect, analyze and exploit large pools of data about millions of Americans.”
As Max Kelly’s move to the NSA in 2010 illustrates, the ties between government agencies and the country’s biggest tech companies is strong.
This week the Mindful Cyborgs podcast interviewed Nathan Jurgenson, the co-founder of the site Cyborgology, co-founder of the Theorizing the Web conference, a contributing editor at The New Inquiry and a sociology graduate student at the University of Maryland.
Here are some excerpts:
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If you’ve taken a lot of photos, if you’re a photographer and you spend a lot of time with the camera in your hand or up your eye. You develop the thing that is called the “camera eye,” that is even when the camera is not at your eye you start to see the world through the logic of the camera mechanism. You see the world as a potential photo with a framing, lighting, the depth of field and so forth. And that’s called the camera eye and I think social media, especially Facebook, has given us the sort of documentary vision or the Facebook eye where you see the world as a potential Facebook post or tweet or Instagram photo.
The answer to the question of what will be the next Facebook could be “nothing”, as younger people appear to be abandoning social networking sites for messaging apps like SnapChat, which doesn’t involve profiles, personal data, companies’ “sponsored stories”, or their parents. Via Buzzfeed:
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Facebook is the “most important” social media site for about 10% fewer teenagers than it was a year ago, according to a new PiperJaffray survey of over 5,000 teenagers. The teens surveyed are less interested in Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Flickr, and Tumblr too.
This suggests something bigger than a shift away from Facebook; it hints at what could be the beginning of an across-the-board teen rejection of traditional social networking as a whole.
This data measures sentiment, not usage stats.
Social networking sites are a great way to meet and connect with new people, such as cops. DNAinfo New York writes:
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Police are searching for suspects’ photos on Instagram and Facebook, then running them through the NYPD’s new Facial Recognition Unit to put a face to a name, DNAinfo New York has learned.
Detectives are now breaking cases across the city thanks to the futuristic technology that marries mug shots of known criminals with pictures gleaned from social media, surveillance cameras and anywhere else cops can find images.
[An] official explained how the new technology worked after a recent street robbery where a woman reported her jewelry stolen by her gal pal’s boyfriend. She did not know his name, only that he was likely in photos on his girlfriend’s Facebook page. “We did not have his name, but we found a photo and the Facial Recognition Unit got a hit.”
The new investigative entity was formally launched late last year, with eight cops working in teams of four manning the operations.
On the intertwining of social capital and literal capital, the Economist reveals:
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Facebook data already inform lending decisions at Kreditech, a start-up that makes loans in Germany, Poland and Spain. Applicants are asked to provide access for a limited time to their account on Facebook or another social network. Much is revealed by your friends, says Alexander Graubner-Müller, one of the firm’s founders. An applicant whose friends appear to have well-paid jobs and live in nice neighbourhoods is more likely to secure a loan. An applicant with a friend who has defaulted on a Kreditech loan is more likely to be rejected.
An online bank that opens in America this month will use Facebook data to adjust account holders’ credit-card interest rates. Based in New York, Movenbank will monitor messages on Facebook and cut interest rates for those who talk up the bank to friends. If any join, the referrer’s interest rate will drop further.
Algorithmic analysis of what you have “liked” gives everything away—your IQ, personality traits, drug usage, and even whether your parents divorced during your childhood, the Washington Post reports:
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A Cambridge University study published Monday shows off how the researchers were able to figure out personal traits of individuals based on what 58,000 Facebook users decided to “like” on sites around the Web.
The researchers found that they could, for example, correctly distinguish between gay and straight men on the site 88 percent of the time by analyzing the TV shows and movies they liked. Similarly, they could differentiate between drug users and non-drug users with about 65 percent accuracy based on their expressed public preferences. The study even included “like” predictors that could tell whether users’ parents had separated when they were young versus whether they had not.
Researcher [said] that they hope this raises users’ awareness about the kind of information they may not realize they’re sharing with a wider audience.
Well Newsweek may be dead, but its Daily Beast reincarnation is actually publishing some interesting articles, not least this one in which “Tom Wolfe draws up a sterling indictment of our unscrupulous financial culture. Twenty-five years after Bonfire of the Vanities, the author returns to Wall Street to see what happened to the Masters of the Universe”:
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Come join us as we go back seven months to the apex of the history of American capitalism in the 21st century. We find ourselves in a swarm of fellow starstruck souls outside the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan, churning, squirming.
To slip past a battalion of cops and a platoon of security operatives in gray suits with small white techno-polyps in their ears attached to coils of white intercom cord trying to keep us under control… as we all but trample the raggedy, homeless-looking ranks of the television crews and every other laggard in our way.
Disinfonauts, you know who these people are. Drown them out. Gawker compiles some of the worst, tasteless sentiment from the fringes of American society:
If you’ve got a certain kind of Facebook friend — an End-the-Fed, mechanical-elves, Monsanto-causes-cancer, Nibiru-fearing cousin, say — you may have already heard the “news” that Newtown shooter Adam Lanza’s father was a key witness in a congressional hearing about a banking scandal. Or the theory that the new Batman movie predicted the shooting. Or that The Hunger Games did. None of these conspiracy theories are true, obviously. But they’re all over the internet.
As usual, it only took a couple of days for the weird online gutter-spaces where the far left, far right, hyper-libertarian and new age kooks all hang out to gurgle out a handful of theories about the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., that ended with 27 deaths. They are, each, stupider than the last, though no less fascinating, in a car-crash way, than they usually are…
[check out the insanity at Gawker]