Welcome To The Surveillance State

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OK, new Facebook rule: compose your posts in an offline editor and then copy-paste to Facebook and post.

Apparently, Facebook monitors what you type even before you post. A study on “self censorship” (i.e., how you change a post before actually posting it) was recently presented at a conference (1).  The only way the data for this study could have been acquired is if Facebook is monitoring what you type while you’re typing it.  (About that little pop-up that says “a friend is writing a comment”, yeah…)

I think we all do this – type something and then think better of it. Some of the original wording in my posts (especially political ones) is, let us say,  NSFW. But more than that, suppose you start a post critical of, say, Ajit Pai and the FCC. Facebook knows even if you don’t post it. Which means, basically, so does the NSA, the cops and any corporation willing to pay for the data.

How is that? Peter Theil runs a company called Palantir. What is this, you ask? Well, did you watch (or read) “Minority Report”?

“Palantir watches everything you do and predicts what you will do next in order to stop it. As of 2013, its client list included the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, the Centre for Disease Control, the Marine Corps, the Air Force, Special Operations Command, West Point and the IRS. Up to 50% of its business is with the public sector. In-Q-Tel, the CIA’s venture arm, was an early investor.”

Oddly enough, Peter Theil is a major investor in Facebook – figure the odds Palantir doesn’t have access to this data. About Palantir’s founders:

“Their intention was to create a company that took Big Data somewhere no one else dared to go.”

They are taking it someplace it shouldn’t go. I sympathize with those agencies tasked with protecting us, but given a government that is increasingly authoritarian, I fear for the future of freedom.


  1. The Association for the Advancement  of Artificial Intelligence’s Seventh International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media

(Edited with Byword…)