In short: everything you ever did or sent on Facebook. Permanently. Facebook is required to disclose all this data by European law, which has now revealed that the corporation saves the content of all your messages (including deleted ones), tags, pokes, interests, GPS spots where you took your iPhone photos and what not, to sell to advertisers.
A couple of months ago, 24-year-old Austrian law student Max Schrems requested Facebook for all his personal data. The European arm of Facebook, based in Dublin, Ireland, was obliged to turn over this information, as they had to follow an European law that requires any entity to provide full access to data about an individual, should this individual personally request for it. Accordingly, Max received a CD containing about 1,222 pages (PDF files), including chats he had deleted more than a year ago, “pokes” dating back to 2008, invitations, and hundreds of other details.
Berlin-based newspaper taz.de decided to visualize [taz.de] different aspects of this data: the magnitude of the 1.222 unique pages, the exact times Max logged in and wrote messages, the times of day messages he sent or received, Max’s friend network, the locations of the pictures he took in Vienna, and the most popular tags of Max’s messages. While the visualizations by themselves might not stand out, they do reveal the huge amount of digital traces one leaves, even when they were originally purposively ‘deleted’ or discarded.
In addition, this event has triggered a wider initiative called Europe versus Facebook, which aims for more transparency and control of personal Facebook data.
By the way, how can you get access to your own data? Facebook has made it increasingly difficult to do so. What was previously a simple online form, must now happen via email or snail mail. All the instructions can be found here.
Morgen is het zo ver: de Nederlandse vertakking van de Occupy-beweging slaat haar vleugels uit te Amsterdam. De Occupy Wall Street-beweging in de V.S. is al wekenlang bezig, in groeiende getale en onder toenemende media-aandacht, een progressieve protestbeweging van formaat te worden. Een linkse variant op de Tea Party.
De concrete doelen zijn wellicht nog onduidelijk, maar het van de Arabische Lente overgenomen permanent kamperen op de heilige grond van het financieel kapitalisme blijkt een succesvolle innovatie in protestmethodes te zijn. Evenals in Caïro, en daarna in Madrid en Barcelona, wordt geëxperimenteerd met directe vormen van democratie en participatie, als alternatief naast de vertegenwoordige democratie. Men maakt bovendien – eindelijk - een vuist tegen die sector die de Westerse maatschappij nu al jaren in haar greep houdt: de financiële industrie. De door haar veroorzaakte financiële crisis wordt betaald door de belastingbetaler, die er het oprollen van de verzorgingsstaat voor terug krijgt. Ondertussen worden de bonussen nog steeds uitgedeeld. Gek genoeg zijn het alleen de meest linkse partijen in het parlement die hiertegen ageren.
Er bestaat regionale variatie – in de V.S. staan drommen politici op de loonlijst van Wall Street, in Griekenland is de staat mede debet aan de ellende – maar overal in het Westen kan de financiële sector uiteindelijk verantwoordelijk worden gehouden voor de huidige economische ellende. In de meeste landen buiten Nederland is de (jeugd)werkloosheid afschuwelijk opgelopen; er groeit nu een ‘verloren generatie’ op zonder uitzicht op een baan. Speculanten houden de eurozone bovendien nog steeds in hun greep. Maar ook in Nederland zijn onder dit kabinet, met haar domme mantra van ‘achttien miljard‘, de gevolgen groots: eliminering van zorg voor (jong)gehandicapten, sociale werkplaatsen, speciaal onderwijs, korten op hoger onderwijs, het verdwijnen van openbaar vervoer, bezuinigingen op kunst en cultuur, en ga zo maar door. Terwijl er tegelijkertijd wél een extreem kostbare subsidie voor rijken in stand wordt gehouden: de hypotheekrenteaftrek.
Ik hoop dan ook dat de Nederlandse Occupy-beweging dáárover zal gaan: de Nederlandse issues, die niettemin niet los van de internationale financiële crisis kunnen worden gezien. Het kabinet-Rutte staat evident niet aan de kant van gedupeerden in de crisis. Er is Nederland meer, meer dan genoeg om massaal tegen te protesteren, waarbij het overkoepelende punt zou kunnen zijn: de onrechtvaardige maatschappelijke verdeling van de kosten van de crisis. Dat geldt in alle landen, en dat is waarin in Nederland die waardeloze, onnadenkende bezuinigingen vandaan komen, terwijl de financiële sector op oude voet verder gaat en regelingen voor het niet-hulpbehoevende deel der natie in stand blijven.
Occupy Amsterdam heeft potentie. Tradionele media als Nieuwsuur, 1Vandaag, DWDD, BNR en AT5 hebben er al aandacht aan besteed. De Twitter loopt, en de Facebook-pagina telt bijna 3500 aanmeldingen. Het is te hopen dat men een algemeen aansprekende, op Nederland toepasbare boodschap weet te formuleren; en het is te hopen dat de boel niet, zoals in Nederland vaker gebeurd, door krakers of andere links-radicale figuren wordt overgenomen. Kritiek op de uitwassen van een doorgeschoten kapitalisme en haar vervlechting met politieke systemen isniet per se links of radicaal; het is pure common sense die iedereen aan kan spreken, wat hij of zij ook stemt.
Volgens mij bestaat er onder veel mensen die zich niet vertegenwoordigd voelen door dit kabinet – en met name onder jongeren – al tijden een grote behoefte om de straat op te gaan. Misschien wordt dit ‘m dan…
Here in the Netherlands (the country that we write this blog out of), people may be largely oblivious to it, as a dictatorship may take over here tomorrow and all Dutch people will still sit outside on terraces enjoying their drinks. But in the rest of the world, Western and non-Western, mass demonstrations have for months been at the order of the day. These demonstrations -- whether it is in Egypt or Madrid -- are primarily attended by the young. This is Generation F*cked -- a generation already suffering from mass unemployment, that is now also hit by the financial crisis.
It is a grave injustice that, for instance in Europe, massive budget cuts are made and the welfare state is pretty much done away with, to save a capitalist financial system that was wreckaged by a few corporate elites. I’m no socialist, but you can’t ignore the structural wrongness of the current neoliberal political-economic structure that has been in the making for thirty years and now seems to be at its apex. Why, really, should the public at large suffer to save free-for-all financial capitalism? There is something rather wrong with that.
It is therefore heartwarming to see that throughout the Western world, inspired by the Arab Spring, young people have taken to street to semi-permanently occupy public spaces and form something of an alternative, proto-democratic movement. The main examples are the acampadas in Madrid and Barcelona, of course, inspired by Tahrir Square. People here are camping out, debating, discussing, having fun, united by a shared loss of trust in the system. And since two weeks, the global heart of financial capitalism, Wall Street, is also subject to a similar youth movement: that of Occupy Wall Street.
The funny thing is that it’s almost completely being ignored by most established media. Of newspapers, only The Guardianpays serious attention to it. While the goals of the movement aren’t really clear, everybody at least wants to show signs of protest to the system that through sheer irresponsibility and recklessness is causing continuing mass suffering. Wanna know you manages your pension money? Who finances, in the US, every politician that wants to get elected? Who through malpractice has brought the entire Western economy to a halt? Occupy Wall Street.
So here’s how to inform yourself on the movement, that is gathering more crowds everyday (I read this morning that the unions are planning to join in) and keeps demonstrating. These are not only young people, by the way. Check out:
Check out The Guardian‘s live blog. Glenn Greenwald -- neither, as far I know, a utopian, “leftist” or radical but like many people in the wake of the financial crisis simply concerned with the structural injustice of the current financial system, and happy that at least someone is sending a message - has the following commentary:
Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power -- in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions — is destroying financial security for everyone else? Beyond that, criticizing protesters for the prominence of police brutality stories is pure victim-blaming (and, independently, having police brutality highlighted is its own benefit).
And before that, about Wall Street’s hold on American (in this case, Democratic) politics:
The senate of the state of New York, the nation’s third most populous state, is about to vote on allowing same-sex marriage (the state assembly already approved that bill last week).
While the bill is mostly supported by Democrats, some Republicans have joined the fray as well. In the context of that, check out this awesome quote by Senator Roy McDonald (R-Saratoga):
You get to the point where you evolve in your life where everything isn’t black and white, good and bad, and you try to do the right thing. You might not like that. You might be very cynical about that. Well, fuck it, I don’t care what you think. I’m trying to do the right thing. I’m tired of Republican-Democrat politics. They can take the job and shove it. I come from a blue-collar background. I’m trying to do the right thing, and that’s where I’m going with this.
Hell yeah. Additionally, McDonald has set up a Facebook page for donations and petitions:
In the wake of his announced “yes” vote for same-sex marriage, [Republican] Sen. Roy McDonald has unveiled a facebook page called “Stand With Roy” and urges supporters to donate and sign a petition. The page itself has more than 10,000 “likes” Monday morning. … When McDonald announced he [said] he was unconcerned about the impact it would have on his re-election chances. The lawmakers’ announcement, along with his blunt responses to questions about same-sex marriage, made him something of a star.
I’d like to note, by the way, that this GOP senator is more progressive on this issue than Barack Obama, who seemed to be for same-sex marriage before he was against it (before running as a candidate, of course). Yet, there’s indications that he might come out to support it in 2012, although I highly doubt it.
Watch out whom you befriend on Facebook! The Pentagon is developing software that will allow them to secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas.
In a pretty pathetic attempt at starting up some sort of spy program on the Internet, a Californian company has been awarded a contract with Central Command (Centcom) to develop a system in which militarymen can manage 10 online personas, which includes fake backgrounds, histories, and occupations. In this way, they can nest in forums, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and other social media; but also attempt to create some online consensus beneficial to US interests.
I actually don’t believe that in the realm of counterterrorism something like this has never been done before, but ok. We’ll look out for some serviceman in disguise commenting on our blog posts!
The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media using fake online personas designed to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.
A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with the US Central Command (Centcom) to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities at once.
The contract stipulates each persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 controllers must be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”.
The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet.
Once developed the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with a host of co-ordinated blogposts, tweets, retweets, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.
OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate’s armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to “counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard”. He said the US military’s objective was to be “first with the truth”.
The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as “sock puppets” – could encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.
Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.
I don’t buy the latter at all, but they’re welcome to try as far as I’m concerned…
Always wanted to play you were an arrogant nerd worth a virtual 7 billion dollars? Or maybe you want to practice your keynote speech skills? Buy a Mark Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs action figure by MIC Gadget! Well actually, you can only buy the Zuckerberg doll, because Apple has stopped the Steve Jobs from being sold. Even the ninja version was banned by Apple.
In the Middle East, Facebook, by the creation of action web pages and allowing young protesters to first, get in touch with the world, and second, communicate with each other, played a galvanizing role in the recent revolutions; to the extent that Egyptian and Tunisian people started carrying signs with ‘Facebook’ on it, spray painting the name on walls, and one guy even named his daughter ‘Facebook’.
In the West, though, it’s mostly privacy-eradicating decadence, and rapidly becoming a ‘center’ of the Internet (although a good way to stay in touch with international friends). Either way, here’s a nice infographic with some statistics about global Facebook use…
So. This is world history. The Egyptian Revolution is, in my view, now on par with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, or the Iranian Revolution of 1979. Ever since decolonization, the Middle East has been ruled by a series of secular autocratic regimes. These have been varying in levels of despotism and violence, but Egypt’s – the most populous and culturally the most influential Middle Eastern country - has not been the softest. Let’s not forget, moreover, that these regimes have been pillars of Western and especially US policy for decades. This is what fueled the islamist Iranian Revolution, and now the democratic Egyptian Revolution. For the first time (well, actually not, Tunisia was first), an Arab people stands up and en masse removes a dictator. That is news on a dizzying magnitude, and utterly unthinkable just two weeks ago.
While a jubilant mood on Tahrir Square and the streets of Cairo and Alexandria because of the removal of a dictator by masses of peaceful protesters, led by the young, is now in order, let’s not forget that this is not over. This is essentially a military coup. The army leadership - led by the torturer and chief of intelligence Omar Suleiman – is now in full control of the country, and one might wonder how eager they are to quickly relinguish that power. The military has huge political and economic interests in Egypt. So as Mark noted yesterday, a vigilant eye must be kept on the process of constitutional reform. The state of emergency must be lifted, a real dialogue with the opposition (liberal as well as islamist) must be opened, and open and fair democratic elections are in order.
A historian’s note though. Mubarak’s thirty-year regime has effected an almost total eradication of anything resembling a civil society in Egypt. The middle and lower classes (constituting the vast bulk of Egypt’s population) have no organizations representing them; no labor unions, no interest associations, no political parties, almost nothing. There is only the Muslim Brotherhood – a very dedicated, highly organized minority. And Facebook. In my view, a democracy cannot properly function without a vibrant and stable civil society; unorganized people are prone to manipulation by populists, and may even slid into violence caused by old rifts (witness Iraq). So, I’m very concerned about how a post-Mubarak Egypt will develop. Democratization is more than just quick elections (we can also see that in Iraq). What is needed are organizing principles within Egyptian society. But that takes time.
A glimmer of hope though: the organizing of these protests, albeit informal, has shown signs of being highly coordinated and effective. Maybe from this, like in East Germany post-1989, something can grow…
So, while this is huge and fantastic – we’re not there yet!
Here, you can learn how to do it yourself. But with this app, you can do it in half the time, before your hipster friends have it!
Since French artist Alexandre Oudin took advantage of the new Facebook design to express himself, we’ve been seeing some creative ways to mess with your (and your friends’) profile pictures. As we predicted, Oudin’s hack has inspired other users to play around with their profile to pretty interesting effect. And for those of you that don’t want to trial and error around with the 532 px by 180 px and 97 by 68 px image limitations, photographer Florian Stravock has made the above Photoshop tutorial to help you perfectly execute on your super profile pic. Abridged steps, below:
1) Take a screenshot of your current Facebook page.
2) Create a new Photoshop doc.
3) Grab the Slice tool (same family as the Crop tool) and select around the pictures.
4) With the Marquee tool, select around the sliced areas.
5) Bring the image that you want on Facebook into Photoshop and position it roughly the way you want it.
6) Drag the image layer under the Facebook layer and refine your positioning.
7) Go to “File,” select “Save for web and devices,” select all your document area, click “Jpeg, set the quality to 100% and save. Under slices select “All user slices.”
Upload your pictures to Facebook and tag them from last to first. When you get to the first picture click “Make this my profile picture.”
You can download Stravock’s Photoshop document here. Don’t have Photoshop or too lazy to sit through a tutorial? TechCrunch reader Trevor Farbo has created a profile picture generator that allows you to get the same effect in half the time.
Salon.com reviews The Master Switchby Tim Wu: a history of the rise and fall of the five big information industries – telephone, radio, movies, television and the Internet – from unorganized creativity to monopolistic dominance. According to Wu, in every industry the same cycle from initial diversity to eventual consolidation and quasi-monopoly can be discerned; witness the decline of the studio system in Hollywood, or the emergence of big broadcasting companies in radio and tv.
The Internet is often said to be different: it’s inherently anarchic and therefore not susceptible to the kind of big company centralization we’ve seen in other industries. But of course, Google is already the one company that stands between the mainstream user and the contents of the Internet, while Apple with its aesthetically pleasing products has created a content-controlling closed system. Not to mention Facebook that through “like” buttons increasingly sets itself up as the center of the Internet. The biggest threat would be an end to net neutrality: allowing companies to slow or speed up access to certain sites. The same mechanisms that will stifle freedom and creativity online are already at work.
The solution? Wu advocates a separation of services to prevent monopoly, like in railways or traditional telecommunications. I’d also argue that people use independent alternatives to Google, Apple and Facebook.
Tim Wu’s “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires” has been out for a few weeks now and has already become one of those books that prognosticators and opinionators feel obliged to respond to. It’s also a substantial and well-written account of the five major communications industries that have shaped the world as we know it: telephony, radio, movies, television and the Internet. Wu believes that all of these industries have moved through cycles of diversity and consolidation, and that if we think the Internet is immune to a takeover by some massive monopoly promising a more perfect (and more profitable) experience for users (and itself), then we should look to history, and think again.
For Internet pundits (whether amateur or professional), Wu’s book is required reading, but the average citizen may find it even more revelatory and rewarding. Maybe you know a little bit about the rise and fall of the studio system in Hollywood, or you get misty-eyed over the crazy but creative early years of radio, before major broadcasting networks took over. Anyone past the age of 30 probably has at least a hazy memory of Ma Bell being smashed into Baby Bells by the Department of Justice in 1984, and may even be aware that some people still regard this as a crying shame. And, of course, you all know that the Internet is radically, uncontrollably decentralized by virtue of its very structure: It was designed to survive a nuclear war, right?
The Internet is, of course, supposed to be different, with its ability to transmit all kinds of data without routing it through a central switchboard (the “Master Switch” of Wu’s title). But Wu sees potential peril coming from a few quarters. Google — which has become, effectively, the master switch through which many people negotiate with the Internet — could defy its famous motto and go evil should it ever decide its survival requires “integration and the elimination of whatever competition it has.” Apple, with the iPhone and iPad, devices that can run only Apple-approved apps, could use the seductive ease and aesthetics of such gadgets to maneuver itself into the role of content czar. And, above all, whoever owns the physical infrastructure through which we all connect to the Internet — in most cases, the cable companies — could decide to parlay that into control over what we see once we’re connected.
Wu, a prominent champion of net neutrality, proposes what he calls “a Separation Principle for the information economy.” He wants to see “those who develop information, those who own the network infrastructure on which it travels, and those who control the tools or venues of access … kept apart from one another.”
Blogging is very cool: it allows you to expand upon a host of issues, and it’s free-form. It doesn’t really mind what you write (although it’s way better if you make an effort). Yet it’s very ephemeral: a blog post that you put a lot of effort in may only be read by a couple of people, and disappears from the front page after a while. Therefore I’ve sometimes thought of putting the best stuff in a book or something.
The same goes, I guess, for social media like Facebook and Twitter, which are even more ephemeral and devoid of content. So here’s the idea of putting Facebook into a book. Ironically, Facebook originated from high schools’ ‘face books’, so yeah.
Bouygues Telecom asked us to come up with an idea to launch their facebook platform. They wanted us to create something that would go beyond using your profile picture in a funny way, or pranking your friends with a small joke.
We decided to look at the way we use facebook and found that even though we use the social networking site everyday, we forget our favorite moments we share online. So we created an app that could change that, and keep your facebook, in a book.
Uhm, the world is not static. Reprinted in its entirety (original here):
Police investigate burglary of virtual Facebook home
When Paola Letizia discovered a burglar had ransacked her flat, she called police straight away.
Now the hunt is on for the thief – even though the property they broke into was a virtual home, designed for a virtual pet and decorated with virtual paintings and furniture.
Still, the hacker cannot be accused of being a cat burglar – the only thing left in the seven-room online flat was its ‘resident’, Blue Cat.
Ms Letizia spent about £88 kitting out the home for the Facebook game Pet Society, played by 12million people each month.
The 44-year-old said: ‘Now, I have to laugh but when I saw everything I had in my rooms had been taken away, I felt terrible.
‘To furnish the house you have to go to virtual shops for furniture, clothes and gifts.
‘I don’t think it matters that the flat only exists in Facebook. It is real to me and I have suffered a real loss.’ Ms Letizia, of Palermo in Sicily, told Italian media she felt ‘as if someone had violated my privacy and my habits’ after the hacker stole her password and tampered with her Facebook page.
The ‘aggravated entry’ into her email and Facebook accounts is being investigated by Italy’s postal police. The offence can lead to up to five years in prison.