Cycling is about "Safe exercise" and "Safe low-emission travel" The Health and Fitness objective is UNDERMINED if the means of exercise is UNSAFE! This blog STRONGLY OPPOSES certain reforms VicRoads is currently considering: “cyclists could be allowed to treat red lights as Give Way signs. And the same could also APPLY at pedestrian lights."
Also "PERMITTING cyclists, riding cautiously, to proceed past a stationary tram;" "allowing teenagers to ride on footpaths"(Herald Sun)PDowe
Monday, February 2, 2015
Community Safety Cyber Privacy Facebook 'Get your loved ones off Facebook.' Salim Virani Jan. 29th 2015 Cyber Bullying Stalking Surveillance
FB Comment on 'Get your loved ones off Facebook.' by Salim Virani
"here's a quote from it: If you've ever used Facebook contact
sync, or used Facebook on your mobile phone, Facebook took your complete
contact list. Real names, phone numbers, addresses, emails, everything. They
then use that to create "shadow profiles" of the people you know who
aren't on Facebook. Non Facebook users often see this in action, in the form of
emails to them from Facebook, containing their personal information. Facebook
users can see this when they upload a picture of a non-Facebook user, and
they're automatically tagged. My friend's not on Facebook, but since me and a
few friends used Facebook on our phones, Facebook has his name and contact
information, plus knows who his friends are because it sees him in their
address book and calling records. A couple of pictures uploaded with his face,
and presto - they can identify him in pictures -- adding location data from the
pictures to his shadow profile. Lots of Facebook's other techniques work on
shadow profiles too. They can very accurately infer a lot about him from who
his friends are.
So basically, we've all inadvertantly been ratting on our friends who wanted to
remain private. Facebook tricked us."
Get your loved ones off Facebook.
I wrote this for my friends and
harmful. Maybe it'll help you too. External references -- and steps to
get off properly -- at the bottom.
A few factual corrections have been brought to my attention, so I've fixed them. Thanks everyone!
"Oh yeah, I've been meaning to ask you why you're getting off
Facebook," is the guilty and reluctant question I'm hearing a lot these
days. Like we kinda know Facebook is bad, but don't really want to know.
I've been a big Facebook supporter - one of the first users in my
social group who championed what a great way it was to stay in touch,
way back in 2006. I got my mum and brothers on it, and around 20 other
people. I've even taught Facebook marketing in one of the UK's biggest
tech education projects, Digital Business Academy. I'm a techie and a
marketer -- so I can see the implications -- and until now, they hadn't
worried me. I've been pretty dismissive towards people who hesitate with
Over the holidays, I thought I'd take a few minutes to check on the
our financial and location information on top of everything else, there
were some concerning possibilities. Turns out what I suspected already
happened 2 years ago! That few minutes turned into a few days of
reading. I dismissed a lot of claims that can be explained as
technically plausible (or technically lazy), based on a bit of
investigation, like the excessive Android app permissions. But there
was still a lot left over, and I considered those facts with techniques
that I know to be standard practice in data-driven marketing.
With this latest privacy change on January 30th, I'm scared.
Facebook has always been slightly worse than all the other tech
companies with dodgy privacy records, but now, it's in it's own league.
Getting off isn't just necessary to protect yourself, it's necessary to
protect your friends and family too. This could be the point of no
return -- but it's not too late to take back control.
It's not just what Facebook is saying it'll take from you and do with
your information, it's all the things it's not saying, and doing anyway
because of the loopholes they create for themselves in their Terms of Service and how simply they go back on their word.
We don't even need to click "I agree" anymore. They just change the
Facebook doesn't keep any of your data safe or anonymous, no matter
how much you lock down your privacy settings. Those are all a decoy.
There are very serious privacy breaches, like selling your product endorsement to advertisers and politicians, tracking everything you read on the internet, or using data from your friends to learn private things about you - they have no off switch.
Facebooks gives your data to "third-parties" through your use of
apps, and then say that's you doing it, not them. Everytime you use an
and with your friends. It's like when my brother used to make me punch
myself and ask, "why are you punching yourself?" Then he'd tell my mum
it wasn't his fault.
As I dug in, I discovered all the spying Facebook does -- which I
double-checked with articles from big reputable news sources and
academic studies that were heavily scrutenised. It sounds nuts when you
put it all together!
They have and continue to create false endorsements for products from you to your friends - and they never reveal this to you.
They've used snitching campaigns to trick people's friends into revealing information about them that they chose to keep private.
They use the vast amount of data they have on you, from your likes, things you read, things you type but don't post, to make highly accurate models
about who you are -- even if you make it a point of keeping these
things secret. There are statistical techniques, which has been used in
marketing for decades, that find correlating patterns between someone's
behaviour and their attributes. Even if you never posted anything, they
can easily work out your age, gender, sexual orientation and political
views. When you post, they work out much more. Then they reveal it to
banks, insurance companies, governments, and of course, advertisers.
I have nothing to hide
A lot of people aren't worried about this, feeling they have nothing
to hide. Why would they care about little old me? Why should I worry
about this when I'm not doing anything wrong?
One of the more obvious problems here is with insurance companies.
The data they have on you is mined to predict your future. The now
famous story of the pregnant teenager being outed by the store Target,
after it mined her purchase data -- larger handbags, headache pills,
tissues -- and sent her a "congratulations" message as marketing, which
her unknowing father got instead. Oops!
The same is done about you, and revealed to any company without your control.
You give us permission to use your name, profile
picture, content and information in connection with commercial,
sponsored or related content (such as a brand you like), served or
enhanced by us.
By "information" we mean facts and other information
about you, including actions taken by users and non-users who interact
So this includes everything they're collecting about you but not
telling you. Everything you read online, everything someone ever posts
about you, all your private financial transactions.
And, your data starts to get combined with your friends data to make
these models more accurate. It's not just about you and your data but
what gets done with all of it put together.
The issue here isn't what we have to hide, it's maintaining an
important right to our freedom -- which is the right to privacy, and the
right to have a say in how information about us is used. We've giving
up those rights forever by using Facebook.
If you've ever admitted to something illegal in a private Facebook
message, or even mentioned your support for a political cause, this can
be used against you in the future, especially by another country's
governement. You may find yourself arrested for being at the wrong place
at the wrong time, or just pulled aside at the airport one day, now
facing jail time because you revealed you did something that government
considers illegal 5 years ago. One New York comedian had a SWAT team
break into his house based on a joke post. Law enforcement often acts in
error, and you're giving them more power and more chance of error.
You're loading the gun, pointing it at your head, and handing it to
every trigger-happy "enforcer" who's willing to buy your data.
There's no need to talk hypothetically about government surveillance
here. One of the first Facebook investors called Greylock has board
connections to a CIA investment firm called In-Q-Tel. According to their
website, it "identifies cutting-edge technologies to help the Central
Intelligence Agency and the broader US Intelligence Community to further
their missions". And if you haven't heard - it was revealed that Facebook data is delivered directly to the PRISM programme.
And as I'll explain later, most of this information finds its way
into the public anyway. No need for NSA programmes because of marketing
data companies who de-anonymise all your data to sell it again and
again. This is done systematically and automatically. There's an
industry around this. There are marketplaces to buy and sell consumer data,
orginally started around credit agencies and direct mail companies,
then growing with the browser toolbar industry when Internet Explorer
was big - now they're filled with more information than ever before. A
recent example is RapLeaf
which collected and released personally identifiable information,
including Facebook and MySpace IDs. They stopped after serious
controversy, but not only was the damage done, there were other
companies who escaped the bad PR and kept up the same practice. It's
not about how marketers target ads to you, it's that your data is bought
and sold to try.
Where might you travel in the future? Do you trust their law
enforcement with this information about you? Because they're buying it.
Intercepting your communication
The thing is that you don't need a conspiracy theory to be concerned.
Mark Zuckerburg himself has been public and consistent to his
investors about his intentions:
1) To be the middle-man in all personal communication.
That's why they made Messenger and bought WhatsApp, but don't forget
that they've tried worse. When they made Facebook email, they took
advantage of users who were syncing their Facebook contacts. They made
it so everyone's @facebook.com address would be the default. Why? So
that your friends would email you at your @facebook.com address instead,
and they'd be able to read your emails too.
2) To make all personal communication public over time.
That's why they slowly changed the default privacy settings to
public, made privacy settings harder and harder to use, and now are
pretending that their privacy helper will change this. In reality, there a loads of privacy breaches you can't turn
off, like allowing advertisers to use your endorsement to your friends,
turning off how Facebook tracks what you read on the internet, or
disallowing Facebook from collecting other information about you. You
can't turn them off!
I have something to share
Even if you have nothing to hide, you have to worry about the
opposite, what Facebook chooses to hide that you want to be shared. They
"I've been meaning to ask you why you're getting off" usually comes after something like, "didn't you see my post last week?"
If you've ever had that conversation, you've noticed that there's a
big disconnect between your expectations when you communicate on
Facebook and what really happens. Basically, Facebook filters out your
posts based on whether or not people will use Facebook more if they
don't see it.
It feels like Facebook is the only way to stay in touch. Through
pictures and comments. It feels like everyone's on there and you're
getting a good feed on their life. In reality, lots of your posts are never seen by anyone! And you miss out on their stuff too. Even if your friends' stuff gets to you fine, it doesn't mean your stuff gets to them.
Private messages suck too. How many Facebook messages do you send
with no reply? How many Facebook messages do you think you forget to
get back to, or miss altogether? Is that how you want to treat your
Facebook a really unreliable way to stay in touch.
In the last month, I simply stopped using Facebook. Something amazing happened. People phoned me, and we really caught up. My family was more in touch. My brother emailed me with updates. Friends popped into my place to say hi.
It was, like, social.
Facebook's blocks posts based on political content it doesn't like.
They blocked posts about Fergusson and other political protests. When
Zuckerberg alledgedly went a bit nuts and banned the word "privacy" from
meetings at Facebook, it was also blocked from any Facebook post. You
just got an error message about "inappropriate content". Yeah, uh huh.
Inappropriate for who?
We shouldn't be surprised though. Facebook isn't a neutral platform -
we need be aware of the agendas of the people behind it. Zuckerberg's
been public about his intentions. So has the first board member of
Facebook - the politically conservative Peter Thiel. In his younger
years, he wrote a book challenging multi-culturalism at Stanford, and
now promotes a theory called "memetic desire"
which, among other positive things, can also use people's social groups
to manipuate their wants and intentions. (I'm a fan of Thiel when it
comes to startups - but we often forget that everyone else out there
doesn't know this stuff.)
Facebook goes so far as to let political organisations block your
communication. It just takes a few people to mark the same news article
as offensive, and it drops from everyone's feed. This is often abused.
I can block any article from Facebook by getting a few friends to mark
it as offensive. Cheap and easy censorship.
All this points to the fact that it's bad to rely on Facebook to
communicate with people who are important to you. Your Facebook habit
means other people have to rely on Facebook.
It's a vicious cycle.
It actually hurts your relationships with a lot of people because you
think you're in touch with them, but you're not. At best, you're in
touch with a filtered version of your friends. Those relationships fade,
while your relationships with people who make "Facebook-friendly" posts
take their place.
Not only does Facebook want to read all your communication, it wants to control it too.
Ratting on your friends
Even if you're sort of okay with this for you, by using Facebook,
you're forcing your friends and family to accept the same. Even the ones
who aren't on Facebook or go as far as to use fake names.
If you've ever used Facebook contact sync, or used Facebook on your
mobile phone, Facebook took your complete contact list. Real names,
phone numbers, addresses, emails, everything. They then use that to
create "shadow profiles" of the people you know who aren't on Facebook.
Non Facebook users often see this in action, in the form of emails to
them from Facebook, containing their personal information. Facebook
users can see this when they upload a picture of a non-Facebook user,
and they're automatically tagged. My friend's not on Facebook, but since
me and a few friends used Facebook on our phones, Facebook has his name
and contact information, plus knows who his friends are because it sees
him in their address book and calling records. A couple of pictures
uploaded with his face, and presto - they can identify him in pictures
-- adding location data from the pictures to his shadow profile. Lots of
Facebook's other techniques work on shadow profiles too. On top of all
this, they can very accurately infer a lot about him based on statistical similarities to his friends.
So basically, we've all inadvertantly been ratting on our friends who wanted to remain private. Facebook tricked us.
But Facebook's tricks go further.
"Privacy" doesn't apply to what Facebook digs up
Like shadow profiles of people, Facebook can "infer a like"
based on other information it has about you, like what you read all
over the internet or what you do in apps where you log in with Facebook.
Call it a "shadow like." This allows them to sell you to more
It's already well-documented that Facebook collects this information.
The "shadow like" technique is simply the standard use of statistical
techniques in database marketing.
If you read alot about a topic, you probably like it. That sort of
thing. These techniques have used in marketing since the 80s, and you
can hire university statistics students to do them, though of course,
Facebook hires the best in the field and are looking to pioneer state-of-the-art artificial intelligence for this. In Europe, Facebook is legally oblidged to share exactly what information it has about you - but they refuse. So there's yet another class action lawsuit against them.
Through it's labyrinth of re-definitions of words like "information",
"content" and "data", you're allowing Facebook to collect all kinds of
information about you and expose that to advertisers. With your
permission only they say, but the definition of "permission" includes
using apps and who knows what else.
And you thought those Farmville requests were annoying. Every time
you saw one, that friend was revealing your information to "third
So effectively, all that stuff you marked as "friends only" doesn't
matter so much. By being on Facebook, there's way more information about
you that's collected, combined, shared, and used.
They say they "anonymise" this, but in reality, it's a simple step to
de-anonymise it. A lot of the anonymous data, like what and when you
posted, pictures of you, your location at a given time, is enough for a
huge number of companies to tie that anonymous data back to you -- and
sell it on.
On top of this, they allow all the Facebook apps full access to your
information - with your name and everything. And even if you never use
any apps on Facebook, your friends do. When they use apps, your friends
share all your information for you. There's a whole industry behind
Some things DO have off buttons, but keep in mind they are temporary, and as Facebook has done in the past, it will switch them back on without letting you know. When Facebook started (and probably when you joined) it was clearly a safe place to share with your friends only.
That was their big promise. Over time, they switched the default
privacy setting to public so that if you still wanted to keep Facebook
for friends only, you had to manually find over 100 settings on multiple
hidden settings pages. Then, they started dropping those settings and
forced information to be public anyway.
Why are you still punching yourself? :)
Selling your endorsement without your consent
You might have noticed Facebook ads with your friends' endorsement
under it. Basically, Facebook gives advertisers the right to use you as
an endorser, but you have no control over it. It's not limited to when
you've actually clicked a like button. There have been known cases of
vegetarians endorsing McDonalds, a long- and happily-married woman
endorsing dating sites, and even a young boy endorsing a sex club to his
Those cases were so embarrasing that the person found out. People
called them up. But in most cases, these are endorsements that don't
get discovered -- people assume them to be true. That's even scarier
because Facebook is used heavily for political advertising, and product
endorsements. People know I raised money for kids with cancer before, so
they might not be surprised if they see an ad where I'm endorsing a
Christian outreach programme poor kids in Africa. But I categorically
only support programmes that don't have religious allegiances, since
they're known to bias their support to people who convert. Worse, a lot
of people might assume things about my religious beliefs based on these
false endorsements. Don't even get me started on all the hypey startup
stuff I don't condone!
We can have no idea if our endorsement has been used to sell flakey
crap in our name. I don't want to think about my mom wasting her money
on something she thought I was endorsing, or my startup founder clients
seeing adverts for useless products with my face under them.
Using Facebook means this happens all the time. Advertisers can buy
your endorsement on Facebook and your information from third-party data
brokers. You never get to know about it, and you can't turn it off.
The latest privacy change
Finally, I want to explain how this latest privacy change makes
things way worse, and way more out of your control if you stay on
Facebook is demanding to track what you buy, and your financial
information like bank account and credit card numbers. It's already
started sharing data with Mastercard.
They'll use the fact that you stayed on Facebook as "permission" to
make deals with all kinds of banks and financial institutions to get
your data from them. They'll call it anonymous, but like they trick your
friends to reveal your data to the third-parties with apps, they'll
create loopholes here too.
Facebook is also insisting to track your location via your phone's GPS, everywhere and all the time.
It'll know extactly who you spend your time with. They'll know your
habits, they'll know when you call in sick at work, but are really out
bowling. "Sal likes 2pm Bowling at Secret Lanes." They'll know if you
join an addict support group, or go to a psychiatrist, or a psychic, or a
mistress. They'll know how many times you've been to the doctor or
hospital, and be able to share that with prospective insurers or
employers. They'll know when you're secretly job hunting, and will sell
your endorsement for job sites to your friends and colleagues -- you'll
They'll know everything that can be revealed by your location, and they'll use it however they want to make a buck.
And -- it'll all be done retrospectively. If you stay on
Facebook past January 30th, there's nothing stopping all of your past
location and financial data to get used. They'll get your past location
data from when your friends checked-in with you, and the GPS data stored
in photos of you. They'll pull your old financial records - that
embarrasing medicine you bought with your credit card 5 years ago will
be added to your profile to be used as Facebook chooses. It will be sold
again and again, and likely used against you. It will be shared with
governments and be freely available from loads of "third-party"
companies who do nothing but sell personal data, and irreversibly
eliminate your privacy.
Why irreversible, and why now?
Location and financial data are not just really sensitive, they allow the "third-parties" de-anonymise information about you.
This massively empowers these third-parties to collect all avaiable
information about you, including calculated information that you never
revealed. This is a situation where even Facebook itself will have
trouble maintaining the privacy of its data -- not that they care.
This is unprecedented, and just like you'd never have guessed that
Facebook would sell your endorsements when you signed up in 2009, it's
too hard to predict what Facebook and those third-party data sellers
will do with this new power.
This is simply a consequence of their business model. Facebook sells you out, because that's exactly how they make money. And they're under heavy pressure from their investors to make more.
There's nothing you can do about this. Facebook gives you two options: accept all of this, or get off the Facebook bus.
To be honest, this bus is getting loud, annoying and bit smelly,
isn't it? And the ticket is way too expensive in the first place. You
know, I'm not even sure it's heading in the right direction...
How to get out of this mess
According to the FTC settlement from a few years ago, after Facebook
was sued by the US goverment for its privacy practices, Facebook is
"required to prevent anyone from accessing a user's material more than
30 days after the user has deleted his or her account;"
There are different interpretations of this. Some say you need to
delete each post separately, others say delete your account, and some
say they'll still keep your data anyway -- that all you can do is stop
giving them more data.
I'm going to do both as a precaution. There are a few helpful browser add-ons that will delete your posts individually, which I'm running now but needs some baby-sitting to keep running. And some great instructions on actually deleting your account while Facebook tries to trick you into deactivating it instead.
Then there are all the apps you've used. This is one of Facebook's
best loopholes because they say they can't control what the apps do with
your data once you give it to them. So, I've saved the settings page
that shows what apps I've used onto my hard drive, and removed access to
each of them manually. Each of those apps have their own privacy
policy -- most of them are a lost cause, claiming unlimited rights to my
data, so I'm just shutting them down and moving on.
To stop Facebook from tracking what I read on the web, (they do this even if you don't have a Facebook account) I've installed Ghostery.It's been pointed out to me that Ghostery provides information to advertising networks if you enable GhostRank, and have been recommended Privacy Badger or disconnect.me instead. (And while you're at it, the EFF made this great plugin that automatically chooses the most secure web connection, making it more difficult for governements and ISPs to snoop your web activity.) FrostBox's free trial seems to
be working for quickly saving my Facebook photos and videos. For other
information, I used Facebook's archive found under general settings. (It
includes pictures, but not full size.)
I also downloaded my friends page - just by scrolling to the bottom
to load everyone, and hitting File -> Save. (Honestly, so far I
haven't needed the file yet.)
I considered a bunch of Facebook alternatives, and might end up on Diaspora but email and phone have actually been much better!
After a month off Facebook, I don't feel the need for a direct
replacement. The phone - go figure. Everyone already has one, and we
forget how super easy and convenient they are to use. I see fewer
pictures, but I actually talk to people.
If you have any other ideas or advice, please get in touch. This is
what I see as a responsible step to prevent myself, my family and my
friends from having their freedom taken from them, and their personal
relationships made to suffer.
Remember, this isn't just about the technical stuff. By staying on
Facebook, you're granting them permmission to collect and use
information about you, regardless of you even using the Internet. And by
staying on, the data they collect on you gets used to create models
about your closest friends and family, even the ones who opted out.
Lastly, the world is full of people who say “it’ll never happen”,
and when it does, they switch to “there’s nothing we can do.” There is.
We have a say in the world we want to live in -- if we take action
ourselves. Plus, we can help everyone understand, and help them make
their own choices more informed.
Please share this with people who are important to you. But to be
honest, even though this post is really popular, it's clear a lot of
people are assuming what's in it. Sharing a link isn't as good as
talking to someone.
If you got this far and want to share it with someone close, I suggest you do what I did -- talk to them.
A note on the quality of these sources: I tried to find references
from major news outlets, with a range of political biases. These
articles are less technically aware, but we can expect they're more
rigourous than blogs at checking their sources. For the more technical
stuff, sources like The Register are known to be more credible, and
Techcrunch is notoriously unreliable at fact-checking. I've included
some of their articles though, because they're good at explaining
Facebook likes reveal sensitive personal information eff.org
Private traits and attributes are predictable from digital records of human behavior pnas.org table of top likes
New Facebook Policies Sell Your Face And Whatever It Infers forbes.com
You are what you Facebook Like washingtonpost.com
Criticism of Facebook - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia en.wikipedia.org
Forcing users onto Messenger huffingtonpost.com
Europe vs Facebook irishtimes.com http://www.slate.com/blogs/futuretense/2014/05/01/adevelopertoolsouserscanloginwithfacebookbutstay_anonymous.html http://europe-v-facebook.org./EN/Objectives/objectives.html
Facebook info sharing created Zoosk.com dating profile for married woman cbc.ca
@facebook.com e-mail plague chokes phone address books
Facebook Knows Your Friends—Even if They’re Not on Facebook - IEEE Spectrum spectrum.ieee.org
Facebook Now Wants To 'Spy' On Android Phone Users! efytimes.com
Facebook adds naggy “ask” button to profile pages arstechnica.com
Facebook users unwittingly revealing intimate secrets, study finds theguardian.com
Facebook's Generation Y nightmare theguardian.com
Facebook Knows Your Friends—Even if They’re Not on Facebook - IEEE Spectrum spectrum.ieee.org
Facebook's New Privacy Rules Clear the Way for Payments Push and Location-Based Ads recode.net
Stalking on Facebook Is Easier Than You Think - IEEE Spectrum spectrum.ieee.org
Millions Will Flow to Privacy Groups Supporting Weak Facebook Settlement | WIRED wired.com
Facebook Is Recycling Your Likes To Promote Stories You've Never Seen To All Your Friends forbes.com
Is Facebook damaging your reputation with sneaky political posts? | ZDNet zdnet.com
Even Google won't be around for ever, let alone Facebook theguardian.com
Facebook reforms user settings dailyemerald.com
Facebook Privacy: A Bewildering Tangle of Options - Graphic - NYTimes.com nytimes.com
Corrupt Personalization blogs.law.harvard.edu
Facebook is not your friend theguardian.com
Facebook violates German law, Hamburg data protection official says | Sci-Tech | DW.DE | 02.08.2011 dw.de
The World from Berlin: 'Every User Can Decide Alone What Facebook Knows' - SPIEGEL ONLINE spiegel.de
Q&A: Facebook privacy changes bbc.co.uk
Famous Facebook Flip-Flops pcworld.com
No Death, No Taxes - The New Yorker newyorker.com
Facebook censors political satire after complaint from JobCentre Plus tompride.wordpress.com
TED: The curly fry conundrum: Why social media “likes” say more than you might think tedtranscripts.blogspot.com
With friends like these ... Tom Hodgkinson on the politics of the people behind Facebook theguardian.com
Facebook Must Face Lawsuit Over Scanning of Users' Messages, Judge Says recode.net
How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did forbes.com
War on General Purpose Computers is the difference between utopia and dystopia boingboing.net
Don’t Worry About Selling Your Privacy To Facebook. I Already Sold It For You | Just Well Mixed jasonlefkowitz.net
Facebook’s Hidden “Like” Isn’t Just Good For Mobile Developers, It’s Good For Facebook techcrunch.com
Mastercard to access Facebook data theage.com.au
Three transactions can reveal your identity pcworld.idg.com.au
Look who's lurking around your Facebook page: Your insurance company! insure.com
NSA Prism program taps in to user data of Apple, Google and others theguardian.com
Everything We Know About What Data Brokers Know About You propublica.org