Last week Gizmodo revealed that a hacker had gathered 100 million Facebook profiles and produced a BitTorrent download (nearly 3 GB worth) of user’s personal data.
Let’s be clear here; there was no hacking involved here. Ron Bowes simply used Facebook’s wide-enough-to-fly-a-747-through API and the fact that its users are strongly encouraged to reveal everything about themselves. Remember, these Facebook users have willingly revealed this data to the world already.
What my Facebook friends didn’t seem to get is why this bothers me so much. I would still be on Facebook if I could undo what I had shared and simply return to being a name (and maybe a picture). I simply do not trust Facebook to let me return to that state of online being. They know that I am single (and I get hammered with never-ending ads for online dating sites despite telling them that I am not interested). Until I made it clear that I was an atheist, I even got ads for finding Christian single ladies.
The next day, Gizmodo updated the story by revealing just who was downloading all this personal data. Here is where it gets creepier.
- Church Of Scientology
This could be users on their networks doing this rather than the corporations themselves. But doesn’t this send a shiver down your spine? Just a little one?
Can you not imagine what could be done by cross-referencing this information with previously collected data (you do read the fine print on every license agreement and contract you sign right…)? What if your insurance company hikes your premiums in spite of your good health because you have Facebook-ing about your new-found love of thrill seeking?
It is disconcerting to see gathered into one place all the information that is publicly available. We have all given up this data in one way or another. Quitting Facebook was my tiny attempt to strike back.