I wrote this post originally in August 2010, nearly three years before the Edward Snowden case. It was posted on another blog I used to blab on whenever I would get especially angry about something, a blog no one ever read and its probably for the best because it wasn’t very good…just me being angry about random indignities.
I love the Internet. I make money with it. I get to express my opinion on it. I am connected to many people via Facebook and other social media. It has made my life so much easier in so many ways. But I am not stupid. I know that the Internet allows anyone with access to the traffic on the Web to pinpoint troublemakers and rebels. That includes troublemakers and rebels like myself.
As an example, we all know that Google maintains a database of the searches that user perform. They know the exact IP, and thus potentially the exact location of anyone performing a search–forever. A software monitor could be installed which flags patterns of searches such as “liberty,” “New World Order, “Bilderberg,” “conspiracy,” “illuminati,” “Iran,” “Afghanistan,” “Middle East oil wars,” etc.
It is not a stretch to assume that people searching for these terms are flagged as potential threats, as they could find information inspiring them to revolt.
Against who: The insane people that are keeping the world upset with their wars, financial trickery, and inhumanity to others. Some of these people have secured positions of power, and it is in their best interest to monitor as much Internet communication as possible.
As evidence of this interest, the Patriot Act gives the government the power to suspend our Constitutional protections and monitor our Internet activity without notice, and even without probable cause. Need proof? Briefly read over this research paper on Harvard Law’s site, or read the actual Patriot Act.
Even without these powers, social media provides a wealth of private information available to all. This includes your location, with the new Places feature [remember I wrote this in 201o originally – Ed.]. So nosy people don’t even need to check cell phone records to plot your whereabouts using cell towers–you simply “check in” and tell them voluntarily where you are and where you like to hang out.
Furthermore, by viewing someone’s posts to their intimate circle of family and friends, you get a pretty good idea of their likes and dislikes, of their political stance, and of their capabilities as an opponent. If I worked for the CIA, NSA, or other intelligence agency, I would plant virtual assets — like fake profiles of pretty, popular-looking people — that would build up a large network of friends. Then I would use this to spy on everybody.
Spies could use these fake profiles to access a target’s information. Most people accept friend requests from “friends of friends” who they have seen repeatedly interacting with another, mutual friend. Just a few “Likes” or favorable responses to comments is enough to successfully initiate a friend request. I am sure you have friends of friends that you have never met, but you feel you know because of frequent comments on Facebook on your actual friends’ posts. The tendency to accept these “sorta friends” can be used for a bit of social engineering.
Now, all I would have to do, if I were Mr. Shadow Ops Facebook Spy Man, is build up my friends list with targets I was suspicious about and start listening. I’d start flagging people who post negative things about the government, society and life on Planet Earth. I would examine their photos, find out where they vacationed, where they worked, etc. I would have access to their relatives’ and friends’ profiles for the most part, as many do not set their privacy settings high enough. I would build a database with enough information to use against anyone I chose.
The way to destroy someone is not always through firepower. You can destroy someone just as effectively by using mental or social means. Information is critical for this, and this is where the data available on something as simple as Facebook becomes valuable.
Say I was a rogue intelligence agent and wanted to destroy Joe, an influential businessman, because he posts status updates critical of some policy my bosses want to put in, like a carbon tax or whatever. Hmmm, it seems Joe bought a new car and went on vacation. From his Facebook photos I can see his assets, such as a boat, nice furniture, computers, etc. I already know how much Joe makes, because I work for an intelligence agency and can access his tax records.
Let’s stress Joe out with a nice little audit, and if he doesn’t disclose anything that I see on his Facebook page, boy are we going to nail him. At the very least, he will feel intimidated and overwhelmed by the audit process and forget about posting snarky comments about the new carbon tax.
Or, let’s see what types of friends Joe has. Wait, here is someone that we know is hard up for money. We know this because, being a friend of our target, we have been monitoring her posts too. Let’s find some dirt to blackmail her (or create it) and offer her some money, silence and salvation in exchange for her cooperation. All in the matter of National Security of course.
Her orders are to start chatting with Joe and send him messages via Facebook and email, to build up his trust over the course of many weeks, and to get him to start expressing deep feelings to her. Its not hard, everyone wants a confidant. Maybe they will fall in love, maybe not, but who cares. We just want to place a note, send a text via cell phone, or place something else Joe’s wife can find from our asset which will lead her to check Joe’s Facebook account or email and find these deep conversations. I guarantee the stress that will immediately burden Joe from all this will cause him to stop posting about my bosses’ carbon tax, and maybe even lead him to kill himself, completely eliminating our problem.
Do you think this is far-fetched? Sigh. There have already been many worse operations taken against perceived enemies.
So, the upshot is to be smart when using the Internet, because chances are that what you type and what you read is being recorded somehow, somewhere for later use. If you use Facebook and other social media, be careful when expressing dissent of the status quo. First, your friends will probably just wish you would shut up and post happy things, like pictures of your lunch plate or your puppy. Second, you are most likely being monitored by someone, somewhere, who definitely doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
As for me, posting this on a public blog does not seem to be rational, being as I have outed myself as someone who disagrees with the way things are and where the world is headed, thanks to bad decisions by people with more power than I. I am especially deeply opposed to violating the humanity of others for the sake of “security,” which is really security for those in power, not security for me and you. I don’t feel insecure living my day to day life, although I know there are a few wackos out there in the streets. I feel more insecure by the actions taken by a small few in power, including constant warmongering, supplying of arms to crazy people, and bailing out crooked bankers–which our taxes go towards instead of education, health, infrastructure, and other valuable production.
Posting this also probably qualifies me as a conspiracy theorist, which, since I do not have any tangible proof of this Facebook spying actually happening, is actually a fair moniker.
But I post it because I am just plain tired. Tired of seeing injustice and insanity every time I open CNN.com or MSNBC.com or the Huffington Post or the Daily Mail or…(you get the picture). Tired of seeing the big boys get away with everything , while the little man gets shafted left and right. And very tired that few people, anywhere, even want to see the plain truth that they are being manipulated and conned by those who are supposed to be protecting them and working to make their lives and society better.
So…I communicate, hoping that in some small way I contribute to turning the tables on the madmen that, seeking more benefits for themselves, hurt good people.