You are the product

“What this means is that even more than it is in the advertising business, Facebook is in the surveillance business. Facebook, in fact, is the biggest surveillance-based enterprise in the history of mankind. It knows far, far more about you than the most intrusive government has ever known about its citizens. It’s amazing that people haven’t really understood this about the company. I’ve spent time thinking about Facebook, and the thing I keep coming back to is that its users don’t realise what it is the company does. What Facebook does is watch you, and then use what it knows about you and your behaviour to sell ads. I’m not sure there has ever been a more complete disconnect between what a company says it does—‘connect’, ‘build communities’—and the commercial reality. Note that the company’s knowledge about its users isn’t used merely to target ads but to shape the flow of news to them. Since there is so much content posted on the site, the algorithms used to filter and direct that content are the thing that determines what you see: people think their news feed is largely to do with their friends and interests, and it sort of is, with the crucial proviso that it is their friends and interests as mediated by the commercial interests of Facebook. Your eyes are directed towards the place where they are most valuable for Facebook.” John Lanchester does not know what will happen should this $450 billion penny ever drop.
www.lrb.co.uk

How not to get phished

“Most humans can tell the difference most of the time, but if they are tired, or stressed, or in a rush, or have any number of other common obstacles to computer use, there’s a good chance they won’t notice the difference, will type their password into the wrong site, and will have their account taken over by bad guys.” Jacob Hoffman-Andrews identifies password managers as the average human’s best defence against phishing attacks.
jacob.hoffman-andrews.com

Conversations

“Welcome to this introduction to Conversations. It is gonna be a great introduction. It’s gonna be fabulous. Other instant messengers have fought Conversations for many years, but they couldn’t beat it. Just couldn’t do it. Total loosers. They’re all dead now. All the other messengers have failed. Forget WhatsApp, okay? Signal …total disaster. Threema is so bad, it’s not even a real messenger. It’s fake. Threema is a fake messenger. Converstations has got to be the best messenger in the world. It’s huge. OMEMO. You’ll love it. Best protocol. Tremendous. Absolutely fantastic. Nobody has messengers better than Conversations. This messenger is so big, you can even see it from the moon. And I am going to make you pay for it. It’s true. Important people tell me that Conversations is so great, it’s unbelievable. So great, it’s beautiful. Conversations is the best instant messenger that God ever created.”
conversations.im

The swedish kings of cyberwar

“Among the many questions posed by Scandinavia’s embrace of mass surveillance is one that has lingered at the margins throughout the Snowden debate: Are advanced democracies any different than their authoritarian counterparts in seeking to gain broad access into the private lives of citizens?” Hugh Eakin shines a light on the underreported activities of Sweden’s FRA in spying on people everywhere.
www.nybooks.com

With thanks to Michael August

WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages

​“(Tobias) Boelter reported the backdoor vulnerability to Facebook in April 2016, but was told that Facebook was aware of the issue, that it was ‘expected behaviour’ and wasn’t being actively worked on.”
www.theguardian.com

Earlier, I posted two messages for my friends on Facebook. One with my Threema address, the other with the above quote and link to the article critical of Facebook’s conduct. Within hours, the latter had mysteriously disappeared from view. I don’t routinely use Facebook and now I know why: on this evidence, nobody gets to see much of what I post there, anyway…

Corporate censorship is the process by which editors in corporate media outlets intervene to disrupt the publishing of information that portrays their business or business partners in a negative light.”
wikipedia.org

The human factor

​“The episode should have been a non-event, and one that would not last long. The airplane was in the control of the pilots, and if they had done nothing, they would have done all they needed to do.” William Langewiesche examines the reasons behind the crash of Air France Flight 447, one of the “most perplexing and significant airline accidents of modern times”.
www.vanityfair.com

How surveillance stifles dissent on the Internet

“People who said they had ‘nothing to hide’ were in fact more likely to censor themselves.” Kaveh Waddell reports on resarch by Elizabeth Stoycheff that, given current practices of government and comercial entities around the world, rules out the Internet as a tool to promote democracy.
www.theatlantic.com

“This structure of surveillance will stop us doing things which are right, that we know we should be doing.”
Anthony Barnett speaking in October 2013