Facebook has become such an integral part of our lives and society that we have made it a fact of life. It is a vast source of social stimulation that showcases the glamorous and interesting aspects of our everyday lives. Although Facebook has many beneficial aspects like easy access to upcoming events and increased contact with old friends, it also allows users to build their own brand image to portray themselves as they want others to see them.
Facebook has changed over the years; from alumni to a networking website. Changes that have crept into Facebook have, at times, been directed by the zeitgeist. Such changes have been controversial and less spoken off. We at futurON are trying to showcase two of them, one concerning privacy and the other festooning cashless society.
Aiding and abetting law?
“Relying on the government to protect your privacy is like asking a peeping tom to install your window blinds.”
- John Perry Barlow
Facebook has grown, and along with it the concerns of privacy infringement. This user-concern is not limited to Facebook but finds space in most other social media platforms.
What is privacy? Oxford dictionary defines it as a ‘state or condition of being free from being observed or disturbed by other people’. This definition has clearly confined privacy to a utopian world.
Why the fuss? Some sections of the society believe that it is the intent that is dubious and harmful. The idea of selling users personal info for a fee is criminal.
Privacy has been a double edged sword; governments claim that in order to fight terrorism they need sweeping powers over its citizenry, thus colluding with their privacy. This big brother attitude has changed the fabric of society, where people, ironically, do not mind the control but questions the state sponsored attack on privacy.
Decide for yourself.
Facebook monitors users’ chat to identify and report “suspicious” criminal activity. The screening process commences with scanning software monitoring chats for words and phrases that signal vulgarity, abuse and exchange of personal information. The scanning program is smart enough to keep an eye out for certain words and phrases found in the previously obtained chat records from criminals including sexual predators. The scanning software then flags and notifies Facebook security employees, the suspicious chat exchanges, who then determine if police should be notified.
In a recent interview by Joe Sullivan (Chief Security Officer at Facebook), to Reuters, he states, “We’ve never wanted to set up an environment where we have employees looking at private communications, so it’s really important that we use technology that has a very low false-positive rate.”
Facebook works with law enforcement “where appropriate and to the extent required by law to ensure the safety of the people who use Facebook,” according to a page on its site.
In order to allay criticism from privacy advocates, Facebook has long stated that scanned chats are out of sight from most of the employees, but it stops short of mentioning whether the scanned chats are deleted or stored permanently.
Is it due to some ulterior motives or a genuine concern towards creating a crime free society? Only time will tell.
What are your thoughts?
Aiding and abetting a cashless society?
I cannot imagine a world without cash. I may be a romantic, but the feel of crisp notes in my hand sends me to a journey to the materialistic world, a world which my Id abhors.
Many souls like me have tried to subdue this feeling, to help government tighten the noose around the curse of black money, tax evasion, Ponzi’s, etc.
A lot of countries, world over are encouraging the use of plastic currencies; some countries have passed legislation that entails all transaction above a threshold to be non-cash in nature.
It might not be euphonious, but is it completely cacophonous? Decide for yourself.
Facebook is developing and beta testing an app that would allow users to “pay their utility bills, balance their checkbooks, and transfer money at the same time they upload vacation photos on the site for friends to see.
This new application is currently running in beta phase with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, ICICI Bank in India and KeyPoint Credit Union. It allows users to view account details and mini statements as well as apply for debit cards, requisition of chequebooks, and payment of utilities bill through an ‘alleged’ secure SSL connection.
Facebook is known for many things but none apropos respect for privacy. Mark Zuckerberg has shown his overt derision towards the concept of privacy.
In spite of this scornful, contemptuous and sneering jibe-like stand regarding privacy, both Facebook and the participants in this emerging app are assuring future customers that there is no need for concern regarding leakages of personal data.
Keeping all this in mind, would anyone in their right mind trust their online banking and financial information with them?
The answer is likely to be a resounding approval.
Ana Kasparian accurately summed up some of the concerns regarding online banking privacy and the new Facebook app, “And I’ll tell you what my conspiracy theory is. Facebook makes money by selling ads. And the way that they sell ads is by telling the advertisers what their users are spending their money on. If they have the ability to see what you’re spending your money on via BillPay, on their website, then they’re going to sell that information to a third party. And then they’re going to be like ‘What? What privacy? What are you talking about?”
The increasing number of such apps will undoubtedly produce an increase in the number of hacking and identity theft incidents. Thus, the public that was so easily inveigled to use these programs under the habiliment of convenience will be called for an increased level of security to reduce the ability of hackers to access the data they freely offered online.
These concerns are likely to go unheeded. It will be only discussed as a public relation move designed to placate those on the fence. In the end it, is just one more step towards the ultimate goal of the cashless society and the requirement that even the most personal information such as iris scan, fingerprints, vein scans, facial photograph and even DNA swabs be surrendered for the purpose of data security.
These programs are always introduced through a totalitarian tip-toe under the guise of convenience. Then as more and more people take the bait, the older methods of payment are advertised as cumbersome and are phased out completely.
It is ironical that people are losing their discerning abilities apropos such agendas. They forget that they can use online banking facilities and Facebook at the same time by opening a second tab of the browser!
What are your thoughts on cashless society?
The kind of policies that Facebook has incorporated and is incorporating daily is a matter of concern for all of us. The freedom of expression, once its raison-d’être, now figures only in their taxonomy. The wall of Facebook, a wall where thoughts were penned; laughter shared; love hatched, tears dispelled, has now become an abattoir of that freedom.
Post 9/11, all the revolutions, from the depths of Urals to the shores of the Nile, have been made possible primarily due to the advent of Social Media acting as the proponent of freedom of expression and perhaps these revolutions have resulted in Facebook acquiescing with the Machiavellian-like state policies and demands of the despots’.
Let us know what you feel about your privacy concerns and the idea of living in a world with plastic money?
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