All Your Social Media Are Belong to US

The Trump administration and the Department of Homeland Security now want visitors to USA to surrender their social media login information before being allowed through security.

“We want to get on their social media, with passwords: What do you do, what do you say?” [Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly] told the House Homeland Security Committee. “If they don’t want to cooperate then you don’t come in.”

Right, so this rotten idea pretty much wipes the United States straight off of my list of places to visit, until the whole thing is declared irreversibly dead and cremated. No, it’s not about whether I have anything to hide, it is about the fact that I have no intention of giving any of the cretins seated in or working for the Trump administration full access to and control over any of my Facebook, Twitter, blog or email1 accounts. I don’t bloody trust them!

1) Email is not quite social media, but with the merging of messaging services and social media, the boundary is becoming more and more blurred. I hardly ever get personal emails anymore; most private messages go through Facebook, and fewer and fewer people can even tell those things apart.

It’s been suggested to me that you could simply wipe the contents of your phone or laptop, and once through security, you can then download everything from an online backup service. Or you could simply leave your devices at home. However, this won’t make any difference.

Because it’s not just about what might be stored on your phone or laptop; they want your Facebook password, Twitter password, Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress blog, Reddit, WhatsApp, Flickr, Snapchat, you name it. And you might as well forget right away the thought of lying and saying that don’t have any. These are the DHS, the NSA, FBI and other American security agencies; you can pretty much count on them knowing if there are social media accounts related to your person. And regardless of whether you have any of your devices physically with you, once you provide them with your login info, they can then log into your accounts on their own computers, with full access to not only see, but also delete, modify, or post content on your behalf, as well as downloading your entire history of posts for later scrutiny, as well as your contact lists.

Moreover, and this is equally or perhaps even more important, they can also view friends-only content on your friends’, family members’ and acquaintances’ profiles, as well as restricted content in closed and/or secret groups and forums, so that it’s not just your own privacy which gets compromised and violated, but also that of anyone you know, on any social network platform that you happen to use.

This, to use a metaphor, quickly escalates from the equivalent of ripples on a pond, to the equivalent of an ocean–wide monster tsunami which kills and injures tens or hundreds of thousands of people almost immediately, and destroys highly polluting industrial installations and nuclear power plants for long term damage.

Although the general rule is that you should never post anything on the Internet, whether public of private, that you don’t want anyone to see, and although you may be careful about what you post, it is highly likely that a good number of, say, your Facebook contacts are posting personal details about their lives, or even about lives of other people they know even if you don’t, that were never intended for the public eye (including but not limited to opinions, feelings, political views, likes and dislikes, loves and hates, references to their own or others’ emotional or mental issues, criminal offences, relationship status and/or history, much of which oneself wouldn’t consider even remotely serious), and which might be used against them by sufficiently skilled and motivated adversaries such as lawyers and security agencies.

Considering the principle of Six Degrees of Separation, it is highly likely that insight into the social network profiles of a small number of people, would reveal “useful” and possibly damaging information about a significant number of other individuals.

To use a slightly different metaphor, the dent in your own personal privacy may be as insignificant as the tiny, round hole left by a hollow point fragmenting bullet on one side of a water melon (or someone’s forehead, if you want the morbid version), but that is practically nothing compared to the explosively splattered mess which is the exit wound on the other side (and a personal word of caution: do not google images of this unless you have a very strong stomach).

Know what other country was formerly at the top of my list of places not to visit? Saudi Arabia. Many reasons, but one being that they’ve declared me to be a terrorist. Why? Simply because I’m an atheist. Mind you, with the religious fanatic leanings of the GOP, the prospect of getting banned from USA for simply being an atheist doesn’t seem all that far fetched anymore.


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The Like Button

Note: this blog post is “in the raw” as it’s written in a hurry, and its content may be edited later for corrections, additions, retractions or anything that fits the passing whims of the author.

Recently there have been words in the press about Facebook’s new and upcoming Unlike button, which differs greatly from earlier rumours of similar Unlike button solutions, many of them riddled with viruses and whatnot, in that this one is in fact confirmed by Zuckerberg himself (though it’s still unclear exactly how it’s going to be implemented). But what will that button mean for the average user? And come to think about it, what indeed does the already existing Like button mean? In my experience, that depends on the person you ask. What I do know is that if you ask me, it means something like this:
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Chasing after passing Face posts

Do you ever enter Facebook, either by webpage or by app, and immediately spot a post or a link or an image which makes you think, now that’s REALLY interesting, I HAVE to take a closer look at that, but just as you move to click on it the page updates automatically, and the thing you wanted a closer look at disappears, never to be found or seen or heard of ever again? Happens to me EVERY bloody time, ALL the bloody time.

Some times Facebook is just bloody irritating.

And yet the world keeps turning.

Remember — The Internet of You

The things, those weird and sometimes interesting things that occasionally drift across my computer screen on a cold, foggy Saturday afternoon of early spring …

This time, accompanying my late-breakfast-bordering-on-lunch, an inspirational and/or thought-provoking speech by Antoine Cartier-Wells¹ brought to life in the YouTube video “The Social Revolution – Remember Me” by Devin “devinsupertramp” Graham. The speech is captivating, touching upon the interaction of our eyes, brains and memories with the surrounding world, past and present, and perhaps … future?

“What makes us Human? Our sense of self and our ability to share who we are.”

Warning: Possible spoilers beyond this point!

The five minute speech/video does well enough to stand on its own feet, though as it ends it passes the torch of context to an interactive, mixed media science fiction novel in the shape of Antoine Cartier-Wells’ journal, beginning at his birth in 1984, weaving its way through his life project of understanding, storing, exchanging, sharing, analysing and perhaps even altering memories.

There’s more than a spoonful of William Gibson in these works, methinks; the dark cyberpunk atmosphere, and in some ways you may even see connections with what became the Matrix (the one in Gibson’s books, not the Wachowski Brothers’ Matrix movie trilogy). That said, I wouldn’t dare to assume that the two stories are chronologically connected.

As the interactive journey through the journal comes to its conclusion, it is revealed that this is in fact the back story for computer action game Remember Me. This does not detract from the fact that I quite enjoyed the storyline.

By the looks of the trailers, the game (which I have not yet tried for myself) does seem like something I’d enjoy to watch more than actually play, preferably as a movie, somewhat “Total Recall” style (the 2012 Colin Farrell version, not the 1990 Arnold Schwartzenegger one). It would make for a seriously psychedelic motion picture trip.

Footnotes:

  1. Antoine Cartier-Wells is a fictional character from the game “Remember Me”.

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