Saturday, June 15, 2013

Facebook news (updated)

Just to let you know, I finally bit the bullet and started a Smartypants Facebook page. Come visit ;)

While doing that I noticed something interesting. Check out the cover photo on the OFA Facebook page.

It makes me wonder how many of the people who are screaming about government surveillance are actually busy organizing people to try to do something about it. I constantly hear people saying that President Obama quoted that line from FDR about "make me do it." Its interesting that he has also given us a tool to do just that. So if you don't like what the Patriot Act has authorized the government to do - join OFA and start organizing to get it repealed.

Finally Facebook published some interesting information about their involvement in surveillance.
For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000. These requests run the gamut – from things like a local sheriff trying to find a missing child, to a federal marshal tracking a fugitive, to a police department investigating an assault, to a national security official investigating a terrorist threat. The total number of Facebook user accounts for which data was requested pursuant to the entirety of those 9-10 thousand requests was between 18,000 and 19,000 accounts.

With more than 1.1 billion monthly active users worldwide, this means that a tiny fraction of one percent of our user accounts were the subject of any kind of U.S. state, local, or federal U.S. government request (including criminal and national security-related requests) in the past six months. We hope this helps put into perspective the numbers involved, and lays to rest some of the hyperbolic and false assertions in some recent press accounts about the frequency and scope of the data requests that we receive.
First of all, they've made clear that its not just the NSA getting access to Facebook accounts. This also seems to be pretty common practice among state and local law enforcement. But even with all that, it involves "a tiny fraction of one percent" of the user accounts. Whether or not we want that to happen is the question on the table right now. But I agree with them...lets get over these hyperbolic false assertions.

UPDATE: It appears that is not the official OFA site I linked to above. Sorry.


  1. What's really scary to me is employers demanding Facebook passwords of their employees. There's your invasion of privacy right there.


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