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Government Admits Spying Via Facebook 240

Velcroman1 writes "Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg famously said that the age of privacy is over. And the government wants to ensure that, it seems. The Electronic Frontier Foundation's FOIA request has revealed government memos encouraging agents to befriend people on a variety of social networks, to take advantage of their readiness to share — and to spy on them. Thanks to this request, the government released a handful of documents, including a May 2008 memo detailing how social-networking sites are exploited by the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS), and one revealing how the DHS monitored social media during the Obama inauguration."
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Government Admits Spying Via Facebook

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  • by digitaldc ( 879047 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:08AM (#33894500)
    ...is this surprising? The Patriot Act "dramatically reduced restrictions on law enforcement agencies' ability to search telephone, e-mail communications, medical, financial, and other records." [wikipedia.org]
    Facebook just makes it easier.

    So, Slashdot...what information are you divulging to our government overlords? ;)
  • Re:Anyone surprised? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pojut ( 1027544 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:11AM (#33894560) Homepage

    I'm referring to sending private messages between people, keeping their privacy settings locked down, etc.

    Besides, there are people that still think Obama is a muslim hell-bent on destroying America. There are people that still believe in the big, invisible man. There are people who still judge by skin color, for fuck's sake. I'm sure there are people who still think their online life is private.

  • Agent Provocateur (Score:5, Interesting)

    by srussia ( 884021 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:12AM (#33894588)

    I'm sure they watch /. as well.

    Do you think they have an agent provocateur on /. as well? Assuming they do, it might be interesting to hold a Slashdot Poll on who we think it is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:16AM (#33894676)

    I disagree - isn't it spying if a person is handing over information to someone who he would not do so, *if* he knew the full situation? If somebody friends me on Facebook I might share stuff with them under the (generally reasonable, I think) assumption that they're not a government agent.

  • What would be (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:16AM (#33894680)

    Really interesting would be if someone managed to compile statistics on what the success rate for such fishing expeditions is, so that the public could see what an efficient use of public funds and time such methods provide.

    When will people get their heads around the fact that the law-breaker always has the initiative? The only way you can successfully prevent all crimes is to chain everyone to a wall and gag them. All of this "prevention" necessarily comes at the cost of individual freedom and privacy. However as a side effect it produces data and situations that can easily be exploited by corrupt law enforcement officers and/or politicians. Western society is traveling down a very dangerous road, and most people seem oblivious to that fact.

  • Re:Anyone surprised? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by poetmatt ( 793785 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:28AM (#33894908) Journal

    The difference here is that people deserve some modicum of privacy. Granted, putting things public is not the way to do it, but we need a better balance than gov't spying without a court order.

    I also agree that the aforementioned people are also the kinds that make those crazy christian coalitions and get hellbent on assassinating the prez or other ridiculously insane ideas. The correlation of religion and violence is astounding within certain religions, and I mean christian and not necessarily muslim.

  • Re:Anyone surprised? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by OeLeWaPpErKe ( 412765 ) on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:38AM (#33895108) Homepage

    Euhm, quite frankly if you were tasked with keeping the president safe on that day ... wouldn't you do the same ?

    All they "spied" upon was information published by the individuals, do you really have any sense of privacy of your facebook wall ? And of course, people had to ACCEPT this government "intrusion". It was 100% opt-in.

    This is like people taking a shower and complaining they get wet. Completely nonsensical.

    Besides, government spying on facebook ... who cares. If only the companies on facebook stopped doing the same AND spamming, now that'd be great.

  • the policeman drives up and down the street, looks at cars, looks at people walking on the street, looking at residences...

    is that a fishing expedition in your mind? of course not

    but that's what you are calling a "fishing expedition" on the internet. you have this bizarre idea that information freely and openly and publicly published is somehow immune to public viewing of it by the government, by advertisers, by people you don't want to reconnect with. it's not just you, it's some sort of mass delusion, some sort of cognitive disconnect about the nature of the internet. people treat it as if it is their private keepsake box in their closet, when the internet is about the exact opposite of such a concept. you expect shock, dismay and disgust, that the police would look at something "private" when it isn't even remotely private. the problem is not the police. the problem is people who have this cognitive disconnect about the nature of the internet like you are demonstrating

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Thursday October 14, 2010 @11:53AM (#33895358) Homepage Journal

    I was thinking much the same thing... What we're actually seeing here isn't spying, but a form of undercover work.

    Privacy is a function of sharing information with a limited set of people. You may want your wife to see you naked, but that doesn't mean you want everybody walking by your house to look in your bathroom window. You may want to share that embarrassing problem with your doctor, but that doesn't mean you want it in the newspaper. You may want your credit counselor to know about all your bad debt, but that doesn't mean you talk about it at the company picnic. You may want your friends to know where you're going to be this weekend, but that doesn't mean you want government workers to keep an eye on your movements.

    What is spying if not one entity trying to obtain information that the counterparty does not want shared with it? What is undercover work if not planting spies to obtain such information?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @12:07PM (#33895594)

    > Sharing information under the false pretense of being your friend

    Perhaps you are confused at the concept of "friend".

    Random stranger sending a "friend" request on facebook = not a friend. Just using the word does not make them one, any more than me using the word "millionaire" makes me one of those, or that Nigerian prince really being a prince just because they call themselves one.

    There's no false pretence here. It's a total stranger, and someone freely gave them access to personal information. Don't be surprised when they use it for something you might not have expected.

    If you want it to be private, don't bloody post it on the *world* *wide* *web*, which as you'll note, has the words "world" and "wide" in the very first two words of its name. That ought to give some hint about the level of privacy you get posting things on it.

  • Re:Anyone surprised? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 14, 2010 @08:47PM (#33903156)

    How the spooks are most plugged into Facebook is probably via the CIA (ignoring that the NSA probably sniffs most of the traffic going in and out of facebook), as In-Q-Tel were one of the venture capital companies behind the mass-market launch of facebook. In-Q-Tel are the CIA's public venture capital company.

    Did they buy root access, or what?

When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the principle of the thing," it's the money. -- Kim Hubbard