Facebook: The wheels start falling off and the screaming begins…

10 Apr

My name is...

When Phillip Markoff, the ‘Craigslist Killer’ committed suicide while awaiting trial for murder, he unwittingly set in motion a chain of events that has blown the lid off Facebook’s Privacy Policy.

Facebook has always gone to great lengths to encourage users to upload as much personal data as possible. However, when the Boston Police Department issued a subpoena, demanding access to Markoff’s Facebook account, two things happened:

1) Facebook handed over the full, unredacted account history, including the account details of all Markoff’s friends and their ID information and their interaction.

2) The Boston Police Department then released this document into the public domain, without redacting the names and account details of his friends.

If Facebook users ever worried what information Facebook might pass on to the police and other government agencies about them, they need  fret no more. Facebook hands over the whole lot. You can read the excellent Boston Phoenix article here, including a copy of the document that Facebook handed over to the BPD.

The British government is currently seeking to pass a law allowing it to ‘monitor’ all UK citizens’ website conversations in “real time” – as they actually happen, without any limitation, nor requesting permission from a judge to prove any need or justification. You can read a simple BBC synopsis of this law here.

Now, add the following facts to your understanding of the above story:

Tens of millions of UK citizens’ private records held by Government Agencies have been lost or released. (1)

One in three British men has a criminal record by the time that they are 30. (Home Office Statistic, JRF)

Thousands of losses of our personal data occur at Local Council level through hacking and weak security. (2)

It is estimated that 27% of friend requests on Facebook are fake – around two in every ten. (3)

Let us take all these facts and try to create a ‘conservative’ mathematical algorithm:

For each hundred ‘friends’ you have on Facebook, ten are actually fake.

For each further hundred ‘friends’ you add, twelve are fake. The risk figure rises exponentially as you add more ‘friends’ whose real identity you do not know – for example, they are someone you met in a club, bar or online.

If you have 300 ‘friends’ on Facebook, in excess of 30 are ‘fake’-  the person is not who they say they are.

If 33% of UK males under thirty have a criminal record, and 50% of convicted criminals re-offend, (4) then any Facebook profile containing 300 ‘friends’ includes profiles of least 10 convicted criminals, hiding under fake IDs.

If 100 of your Facebook ‘friends’ also have 300 ‘friends’ themselves, you are connected by an evidence trail to 300 convicted criminals. Let’s be even more conservative still. Let’s say 200.

Ask yourself:

“If Facebook provide the authorities with full details of all ‘friend’ data and links that an active criminal has, and government agencies are allowed to monitor my Facebook page in “real time”…how long will it take before my identity will become PERMANENTLY and wrongly associated with a criminal whom I do not know and have never met?”

And if you know of a single instance of somebody who has successfully removed themselves from an Interpol database of criminals (onto which their name was wrongfully and unreasonably added) will you please provide me with the link?

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One Response to “Facebook: The wheels start falling off and the screaming begins…”

  1. Linda Vernon April 10, 2012 at 11:10 pm #

    Yikes. This is a good reason to get rid of Facebook altogether. Excellent article.

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