Posts Tagged ‘Social Networking’

Has Facebook reinstated beheading videos for the NSA or just for revenue – or for both?

October 23, 2013

That Facebook allows NSA access to all its material has become clear from the Snowden leaks.

In addition to phone records and email logs, the National Security Agency uses Facebook and other social media profiles to create maps of social connections — including those of American citizens.

That beheading and other videos with gratuitous violence are often uploaded on  Facebook is apparent (and whichever way Facebook twists and turns it is equally apparent that they must stand as the publishers – if not the authors – of such material). That much of the uploaded material is faked is also apparent (especially from areas of conflict). It is the gratuitous violence which attracts the voyeuristic surfers like a crowd gathering at the scene of a bloody incident. The sight of vultures gathering at the carcass of a kill attract even more scavengers of all kinds. It is the gatherings of the crowds which increases the revenue generating traffic for Facebook.

The more bloodstains on the road the larger the crowd of ghouls who gather. But among the ghouls are also perpetrators returning to the scene of their crimes where the “incident” was not just an accident. And that interests the NSA.

Why then has Facebook removed its ban on such material? There are very few voices supporting the move.

Who gains? Why the NSA and Facebook. The NSA needs material to mine in its search for the “bad” guys. And people who behead others or fake such pictures or are inspired by such material are of special interest. And Facebook wants the revenues.

ArsTechnicaFacebook said that overall, it received between 9,000 and 10,000 requests from authorities in the second half of 2012, pertaining to between 18,000 and 19,000 individual Facebook accounts. …. By the end of July 2013, we learned directly from an FISC judge that no corporation ever served with a “business record” court order under the Patriot Act has ever challenged one. This is despite the fact that the law provides them a means to do so.

Judging by what Facebook does – and not by what it says – also suggests that they are a lot closer to the NSA than they would like their users to know.

Beforeitsnews: About a year after Facebook reportedly joined PRISM, Max Kelly, the social network’s chief security officer left for a job at the National Security Agency, either a curious career move or one that makes complete sense. The Chief Security Officer at a tech company is primarily concerned with keeping its information inside the company. Now working for an agency that tries to gather as much information as it can, Kelly’s new job is sort of a complete reversal.

And it does not matter where in the world you are. If you are on Facebook your information is in a security agency’s database somewhere. It may not have been flagged as being of special interest but it’s there. If not at the NSA then surely at GCHQ or with the Germans or with the Russian agencies. Even if meta-data is only kept for some limited period of time – once your existence has been registered it can never be deregistered. And if the initial data was “flagged” for any reason then that individual will forever be under surveillance.

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Facebook envy is a hidden threat to life satisfaction

January 22, 2013

Social networking has its downsides. I suspect that all enhanced networking for the many will always lead to new stresses and some form of negative behaviour for a few.

The results of a German study of Facebook users is to be presented at an international conference next month:

11th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik

Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction? by Hanna Krasnova, Helena Wenninger, Thomas Widjaja  and Peter Buxmann

A pdf version of the report is available here: Facebook Envy

cbronline.comAccording to a new German study of over 600 people, using Facebook could make its users feel envious of their successful friends. This result may lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.

The joint research was conducted by Prof. Dr. Peter Buxmann from the Department of Information Systems of the TU Darmstadt and Dr. Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The research, “Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction” revealed that over one-third of surveyed Facebook users reported negative feelings,including frustration, when using the site. Many said this was a cause of feeling envious towards their Facebook friends.

Hanna Krasnova said that although respondents were reluctant to admit feeling envious while on Facebook, they often presumed that envy can be the cause behind the frustration of ‘others’ on this platform — a clear indication that envy is an increasing phenomenon in the Facebook context. “Indeed, access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful ‘friends’ fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy,” Krasnova said.

Medical Daily adds:

The study also found that people who use facebook to browse pictures, read wall posts or check newsfeeds are more likely to harbor negative feelings than people who actively participate on the networking platform.

Previous research has associated Facebook use with anxiety, debt and even higher weight. Whether or not Facebook increases depression is still open to debate. But almost everyone agrees that Facebook is addictive, and according to a study, sometimes even more than sex.

A recent study on facebook published in the journal Memory & Cognition had found that people are more likely to remember facebook status updates than lines from a book or even a person’s face. 

Researchers who conducted the present study also found that about a fifth of all events that lead to envy among people were somewhere within the context of facebook. Researchers call this phenomenon as the “envy spiral” where envy leads a person to change his or her profile which in turn leads “others” to be envious.

Facebook copies social networking concept from 600 years ago

January 21, 2013

The Facebook concept was anticipated some 600 years ago.

A collaborative research project is ongoing between Royal Holloway, University of London, the British Library and Reading University, in which a team of academics are cataloguing and investigating the works of the Italian Academies, dating from 1525 to 1700.One of the major outcomes of the project is a comprehensive database of information on Academies from across the Italian peninsula, detailing their membership and publications. This is publicly accessible through the British Library on-line catalogue

Learned Academies represent a vital and characteristic dimension of early modern culture. There were ca. 600 Academies in Italy in the period 1525-1700. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Italian Academies were responsible for promoting debate and discussion in many different disciplines from language and literature, through the visual and performing arts to science, technology, medicine and astronomy.

And the researchers have also found that scholars at the Italian Academies were networking socially with satirical nicknames while sharing comments on topical events and exchanging poems and plays and music.

The project provides information about the academies, their members, publications, activities and emblems. Researchers were surprised to realise just how similar the activities of these sixteenth and seventeenth century scholars were with society today. 

Professor Jane Everson, Principal-investigator, said: “Just as we create user names for our profiles on Facebook and Twitter and create circles of friends on Google plus, these scholars created nicknames, shared – and commented on – topical ideas, the news of the day, and exchanged poems, plays and music. It may have taken a little longer for this to be shared without the internet, but through the creation of yearbooks and volumes of letters and speeches, they shared the information of the day.” 

The scholars created satirical names for their academies such as Gelati  and Intronati. Professor Everson explains: “They are jokey names, which really mean the opposite of what they say. Intronati has nothing to do with thrones; it means dazed, stunned, knocked out and so not able to think straight – but really the Intronati were engaged in serious study, debates, dramatic performances and the like from the moment they were founded in the 1520s – and they are still as active as ever in their home city of Siena. The Gelati were not going around singing just one cornetto. Gelati means the frozen ones – so a pun on the fact that these academicians far from being totally inactive through being frozen cold, were busy debating, exploring ideas, challenging received opinions and changing the cultural world of their home city of Bologna, and indeed of Italy and far beyond.”

Just as the names of the academies and the nicknames of the individual members were fun, so are the emblems and mottos which illustrate the name of the academy. The scholars took great delight in creating puzzling emblems with hidden meanings. Professor Everson adds: “They do sometimes take some working out, but it is great fun when you can see the hidden meanings in the images.”  

Spotify undone

September 30, 2011
Image representing Spotify as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

I have just returned after a weeks travel on an assignment and was disappointed to find the Spotify decision that new users must have an account with Facebook in order to sign up at all.

My son had introduced me to Spotify 6 months ago and I found it interesting and a channel for music that I used from time to time. I had always expected to increase my usage of Spotify. But I find their Facebook connection coercive and manipulative and – in my opinion – unethical.

I am much too old and much too old-fashioned to be in their target audience and my actions will not have any impact on them or their success or failure. But then I do not find the use of Facebook or Twitter to be a vital or a valuable or a necessary part of my daily life. No doubt their main target audience do not find Facebook intrusive and voyeuristic and manipulative as I do.

And since I find their actions unacceptable I have cancelled my account and uninstalled Spotify.

I shall have to get around to closing my Facebook account and clearing my computer of all their intrusive cookies.


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