Slashdot’s running an article which mentions the possibility that Facebook is sharing your information with the CIA. Naturally, the neurotic crowd on Slashdot is outraged by the very possibility that this could be happening.
Now, I’m all for privacy. I don’t think the CIA (or NSA, technically) should be listening to our calls or reading our e-mails; in more general terms, spying shouldn’t be done without a warrant or exceptional probable cause (as in, if you’re spying on someone without a warrant, 19 times out of 20 it should yield a guilty result). But seriously, why is the fact that the CIA might get information from Facebook a big deal, or even surprising? Every time there’s a possibility of information being shared, people act like they were forced to join Facebook and update their profile. (Remember the news feed controversy from a couple years ago?)
I’ll just say right now that if I ran Facebook, I’d willingly give all information to the CIA. I wouldn’t hide it, I’d come right out and say “watch what you type, you’re being monitored.” Maybe people would watch what they post. People act as if their information that they post publicly on the Internet for people to see is safe as it is. It’s a bad analogy, but just as the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence, the only way to achieve complete privacy on the Internet is to not post the information.
I also wonder how much the CIA is even interested in Facebook. Does Osama bin Laden have a Facebook profile? Are they checking his status every day to make sure it doesn’t say “Osama is currently executing Operation: Bomb Stuff…lol!”? Or maybe “Mahmoud is testing Iran’s nuclear missile system on Pakistani soil! Come and get me!” No one posts stuff like that (and if they do, citizens had better be alerting people).
All in all: conspiracy theorists need to get a life and consider the value of information that might be at risk. And everyone else: watch what you post. It can protect you from the gossip queens at school, the sexual predators in your neighborhood, and the CIA. (That would make a great Carnac script…)