On Tuesday, March 7, 2017, WikiLeaks dumped the largest data dump of CIA documents in history. While WikiLeaks themselves only provided a write up and press release about the CIA’s capability to hack into iPhones, Androids, windows phones, computers, cars, smart tv’s and other networked devices they released over 8,500 documents in all. While many news outlets are slow to call these documents credible, WikiLeaks has had the privilege of releasing documents, over the past 10 years, without being debunked as producing false documents. Supposedly they are calling on journalists to dig through the trove of information to cover the different topics of the dump. WikiLeaks also states that this is only 1% of the information they possess.
Since the release of this information, the media has gone crazy to cover the shock of our invasion of privacy. While I value our right to privacy and I completely denounce the practices of the CIA spying on American citizens, I must ask; Aren’t we already moving to a society with less and less privacy? I mean in today’s world, our lives are publicly displayed on Facebook and other social media channels already. Billions of us choose voluntarily to share many of our private moments on the web. Topics such as birthdays, relationship status, milestones, photos and video provide a window into our world unlike anything we have seen before. Even the phrase “Facebook Official” has made it’s way into our lives as to say that It’s not official until you post it on Facebook.
As a Facebook advertiser, I can share that Facebook never gives me details, such as names, addresses, phone numbers, and/or email addresses about the audience that I target, yet offers me the ability to target you based on your interests that Facebook has recognized. There are thousands of interests to choose from when creating an audience to show my promotion to. I can choose such interests as “Rock Music” and my ad will appear in your newsfeed if you have interacted with rock music pages, or posts. Likewise, if you are an avid golfer, I can choose to target you by selecting the interest “golf.” I could target you based on your job title, household income, geographic area, age, gender and even the device you use to read this very post. Although this is an over-simplistic description of Facebook targeting, it does demonstrate the amount of information that Facebook knows about us. As of today, 1.6 Billion people from around the globe have a Facebook account. That makes Facebook one of, if not the largest database in the world that stores that much information about us individually. We would be naive to believe that U.S. government agencies are not trying to work with the global giant, headquartered in California. Even Mark Zuckerberg is aware of their potential to spy on his conversations.
Photo of Mark covering the mic and video camera on this laptop.
Many can argue, that if you are doing nothing wrong, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I couldn’t disagree more. While I don’t mind Facebook collecting this data on me, what they do with it is where I draw the line. If it’s used for ad targeting, I’m completely ok with that. Companies around the world pay marketing firms big money to find their potential target market. Facebook is a beautiful tool and one that I hope never goes away. It is far less expensive to find your target market and one that gives advertisers like me the ability to adjust the ads in real time to make sure it’s the right message.
What would you do if WikiLeaks released information that the CIA or another government agency are working with Facebook? Would you delete your account? Would you switch to another Social Media platform? Would you go completely off the grid? Please comment below.