Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

What if there was a little box that could be placed in your home that could…..

…. track every Google search that you ran?

…. see who you email?

…. see from whom you receive emails?

…. watch your keystrokes to learn all your passwords?

…. turn on a camera and watch you at any given time?

…. gather information about your likes, dislikes, political affiliations and religious beliefs?

…. dispense all of the above personal data to fusion centers, whose only purpose is to put together profiles of you and your family?

As it turns out, there is such a box, and if you are reading this, you’re on it right now.  You not only voluntarily brought this device into your home, you paid good money for it.  Your computer is spying on you.

The home computer is bar none the greatest information sharing device ever created.  We can study anything our little hearts desire.  We can meet other people anywhere on the globe who have similar interests to us.  We can be kept constantly up to date with news, communication with friends and family and updates to our inboxes about myriad topics.

Unfortunately there is a dark side to having a home computer.  A home computer means that someone else could have constant access to US.

Here are just a few little tricks that your computer may be up to, unbeknownst to you.


Google has the best reputation in the world as a search engine extraordinaire.  But the times are changing and Google is becoming less and less trustworthy.

First there is the Gmail scandal.  If you are a user of the free email service, you may have noticed that the ads running down the side of the homepage seem uniquely targeted to your current interests.  That is precisely because they ARE – Gmail scans every single email sent, gleaning information for “advertisers”.  That’s right, every single email you send through Gmail is read.  Apparently it is read by a computer, but the point is, your emails are not private.  Password, smassword.

Next there is the issue of censored searches.  Unless you specifically use keywords that will hook you up with alternative news sources, Google searches are now directing you towards the most politically correct answers.  Gone are the days when you can simply type in, for example, 9/11, and find information that is provided based on ratings – now you actually need to already have the source that you want the information from to get a clear picture…for example, “Infowars 9/11.  Some websites, like Infowars, are no longer coming up in Google searches unless you include them in your search terms.    At the end of 2010, Google blacklisted Infowars and Prison Planet from it’s search aggregates, despite the fact that those sites get more hits than many mainstream media sites that show up front and center.

Finally, let’s talk about Google’s new “privacy policy.”   As it turns out, that policy isn’t keeping very much private at all.  As of March 1, in an effort to its ads to the tastes of individual consumers, Google will integrate information from all of it’s services, including the search engine itself, Youtube and the aforementioned Gmail.  Google refers to this as a “more intuitive Google experience.”  Unfortunately for users who prefer more privacy, there is no option to “opt out” of this information gathering and sharing.  Check out THIS ARTICLE that recently appeared in The Washington Post for more information on the new lack-of-privacy policy.


Not to be outdone, Yahoo also “analyzes” the content of your emails. And according to their guide for compliance with law enforcement officers, Yahoo hangs on to your information for far longer than the privacy policy states they will.  Here are some alarming statistics, directly from Yahoo, wrapped up in a menu-priced

~  All IP addresses that you use to log into your Yahoo mail account are retained for one year, giving an excellent way to track your movements, find your workplace, or see who you visit.
~  Instant messages and chats are logged for a minimum of 60 days.
~  The information provided to law enforcement agencies is not a matter of civic duty – the major communications companies all have “price lists”. The US Marshall Service admitted to having PRICE LISTS FOR DATA INTERCEPTION SERVICES from Yahoo, Verizon, Cox Communications,  and ComCast.


Over half a billion people worldwide voluntarily provide information about their personal lives, their friends, their families, their religious beliefs and their political agendas on Facebook.

Nowhere can be found a bigger fountain of personal information.  As a way to increase the information Facebook learns about it’s users, when a person is logged into Facebook on a computer, a cookie tracks all other sites visited on that same computer.  If you are logged into Facebook, the door to your home computer usage is wide open.

Facebook uses facial recognition technology to “tag” people in photographs.  Facebook is also like the evil town gossips, making assumptions about you based on who your friends are.  Ads that are targeted to your “friends” can also make it onto your own page. Facebook figures you’ll have the same interests.

Facebook uses GPS technology to post the location where photographs have been taken and/or uploaded, making even your physical location public information.


Purchased in May of 2011 by MICROSOFT, Skype is the world’s #1 provider of VoIP services.  Two years before making the purchase Microsoft began efforts to patent technology to intercept VoIP calls.

The information can be used in many ways.  Criminally speaking, credit card numbers, social security numbers or other personally identifying information can be easily procured.  Information and keywords gathered from phone calls can be used in legal proceedings.  Data-mining techniques can be used to gear advertisments and marketing based on conversations that you think are private.

Even more alarming is the fact that once Skype is downloaded on your computer, it is possible to turn on your webcam from a remote location.  That’s right.  You might be sitting there reading the latest blog from your favorite afghan-knitting granny and somebody, somewhere, might be looking back at you.

You owe it to yourself and your personal security to learn as much as you can about how your computer, your home and even your thoughts, if you are careless enough to type them in somewhere, can be accessed.


Finally, know that fusion centers really do exist and they are the final clearinghouse for all of this information.  Sometimes loosely cloaked as “marketing research” facilities, they have systems for corralling the information gleaned from your computer usage that will provide a very complete profile of you.  That profile may contain information about your relationships, your sexual orientation and fantasies, your political ideologies, your religious beliefs, your family, your friends, your bank accounts, where your money comes from, photo recognition profiles….absolutely everything there is to know about you.

The fusion centers are the real threat – if personal freedoms continue to erode at the current rate, you may one day be deemed an enemy of the state based on your Facebook status updates.  Information compiled there could, potentially, make you a target of the government.

Personally, I have no intention of ceasing my usage of the internet.  The internet and the continuous access to knowledge make this a great time to be alive.  I will continue to do my research, I’ll continue to share my opinions and information.  But I will do these things knowing that nothing is private anymore.

Big Brother is not just watching – he’s making a scrapbook.

By Laurie Whitwell


Facebook is tracking which sites its 800million users visit – even after they have signed out, a new report has revealed.

Company employees are also able to watch where people who are not members of the social-networking site go online, if they have just viewed Facebook once.

Critics have expressed serious concern about the practice and called for tighter regulations to protect internet users’ privacy.

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We'll be watching you: Facebook can track which sites users visit even after they log off thanks to plug-ins and cookiesWe’ll be watching you: Facebook can track which sites users visit even after they log off thanks to plug-ins and cookies

‘Facebook could be tracking users without knowledge or permission, which could be an unfair or deceptive business practice,’ Representative for Massachusetts Ed Markey told USA Today.

The site has explained for the first time how it uses two types of cookies to log the extensive data in a series of interviews with USA Today.

The tracking means that every time an internet user being followed clicks on to a third-party page which has a Facebook plug-in attached, such as the popular ‘Like’ widget, a record is sent back to the company.


According to Facebook, the data is used to boost security and improve the quality of the plug-ins and not to gather personal information to promote user-specific ads.

Officials said the sponsored ads found on a user’s Facebook page are based on the information provided on the profile and by the choices made when clicking the ‘Like’ button.

But still, some web observers are worried.

Eyes on me: Critics have called for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, pictured this month, to face tighter internet regulations Eyes on me: Critics have called for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, pictured this month, to face tighter internet regulations

‘Tracking data can be used to figure out your political bent, religious beliefs, sexuality preferences, health issues or the fact that you’re looking for a new job,’ Peter Eckersley, projects director at Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights organisation, told USA Today.

‘There are all sorts of ways to form wrong judgments about people.’

Here’s how it works: Every time you log onto Facebook it inserts a ‘session cookie’ and a ‘browser cookie’ into your browser. If you simply visit the site without signing up on the browser cookie is inserted.

From that point on, each time you visit a site which uses Facebook technology, the cookie works in conjunction with the plug-in to alert Facebook to the date, time and URL of the page you are viewing.

The unique characteristics such as your IP address, screen resolution, operating system and browser version, are also recorded, USA Today reported.

Facebook is therefore able to compile a rolling address book of all your webpage visits for 90 days, continually deleting entries for the oldest day and adding the newest.

'Facebook could be tracking users without permission, which could be an unfair business practice,' Representative Ed Markey, pictured, has said‘Facebook could be tracking users without permission, which could be an unfair business practice,’ Representative Ed Markey, pictured, has said

If you are logged-in to your Facebook account and surfing the web, the session cookie records this date meaning your name, email address, friends and all data associated with your profile are also logged.

Arturo Bejar, Facebook’s engineering director, acknowledged to USA Today that Facebook could learn where specific members go after they have signed off but denied the company recorded such information.

Mr Bejar told the paper: ‘We’ve said that we don’t do it, and we couldn’t do it without some form of consent and disclosure.’

That testimony was not enough to appease Ilse Aigner, Germany’s minister of consumer protection, who last month banned Facebook plug-ins from government websites and suggested that private companies to follow suit.

While Thilo Weichert, a data protection commissioner in the Germany said: ‘Whoever visits Facebook or uses a plug-in must expect that he or she will be tracked by the company for two years. Such profiling infringes German and European data protection law.’

Elsewhere, Arnold Roosendaal, a doctoral candidate at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, and Nik Cubrilovic, an independent Australian researcher, independently wrote about how pages containing Facebook technology carried out tracking on a greater scale than the company publicly admitted to.

Denial: Facebook said it did not use the trackingto record where users go and a spokesman said the company has 'no plans to change how we use this data'Denial: Facebook said it did not use the trackingto record where users go and a spokesman said the company has ‘no plans to change how we use this data’

Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes slammed Germany to USA Today, saying the country does not understand how the tracking technologies work. And he blamed ‘software bugs’ for the indiscriminate tracking uncovered by Roosendaal and Cubrilovic.

‘When we were made aware that certain cookies were sending more information to us than we had intended, we fixed our cookie management system,’ Mr Noyes told USA Today.

However, Mr Roosendaal said: ‘They have been confronted with the same issue now several times and every time they call it a bug. That’s not really contributing to earning trust.’

And Mr Markey, who is behind a bill aimed at limiting online tracking of children, said Facebook ‘should be covered by strong privacy safeguards.’

‘The massive trove of personal information that Facebook accumulates about its users can have a significant impact on them — now and into the future,’ he told USA Today.

Ron Culler, of Secure Designs, told WFMY he is not surprised by this tracking.

‘It’s just how the internet works. It’s how targeting advertising is done for the big ad sites like Yahoo and Google,’ he said. ‘Facebook wants to know who’s going to their sites, who’s using their ‘Like’ buttons and link buttons and things like that.’

But Mr Noyes said that the company has ‘no plans to change how we use this data.’


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Beware: The socialbots are coming. These fake profiles mimic real people on Facebook but are actually computer programs that try to harvest private data from users, and expose them to other security risks.

University of British Columbia researchers created a social network of a single botmaster and 102 socialbots, and then let it loose on Facebook for eight weeks. The results were a little scary.


  • During the eight-week period, the socialbots were able to send out 8,570 friend requests on Facebook, of which 3,055 were accepted. However, the “extended neighborhood” — friends of friends — numbered approximately 1,085,785. The socialbots averaged around 20 friends, with some ensnaring as many as 80 or 90.
  • The socialbots had far more success getting friend requests accepted from friends of Facebook users who had already accepted its initial friend requests, due largely to common friends being included in friend requests on the social network. On first pass, only 20 percent of friend requests were accepted, but once the bogus accounts were passed off as friends of friends, that number jumped to 60 percent.
  • By accessing the profiles of friends with less stringent security settings, the socialbots were able to average 175 pieces of data from publicly inaccessible profiles per day, and ended up with a total of roughly 250 gigabytes of data (all of which was encrypted during the study and deleted after its conclusion).
  • The Facebook Immune System was only able to block 20 percent of the bogus accounts used by the socialbots. And the reason why those 20 were blocked: Some alert Facebook users flagged them as spam.
  • Those bogus profiles were created to be “socially attractive.” The researchers actually used photos lifted from sites like Hot or Not , where users rate the attractiveness of the subject, believing that better-looking subjects bring better results.

A Facebook spokesperson on how the social network combats bots:

We use a combination of three systems here to combat attacks like this — friend request and fake account classifiers, rate-limiting techniques, and anti-scraping technology. These classifiers block and disable inauthentic friend requests and fake accounts, while rate-limiting truncates the damage that can be done by any one entity. We are constantly updating these systems to improve their effectiveness and address new kinds of attacks. We use credible research as part of that process. We have serious concerns about the methodology of the research by the University of British Columbia and we will be putting these concerns to them.  In addition, as always, we encourage people to only connect with people they actually know and report any suspicious behavior they observe on the site.

The university’s report, “The Socialbot Network: When Bots Socialize for Fame and Money,” concludes:

We have evaluated how vulnerable online social networks are to a large-scale infiltration by a socialbot network. We used Facebook as a representative online social network, and found that using bots that mimic real users is effective in infiltrating Facebook on a large scale, especially when the users and the bots share mutual connections.

Moreover, such socialbots make it difficult for online social network security defenses, such as the Facebook Immune System, to detect or stop a socialbot network as it operates. Unfortunately, this has resulted in alarming privacy breaches and serious implications on other socially-informed software systems. We believe that large-scale infiltration in online social networks is only one of many future cyber threats, and defending against such threats is the first step towards maintaining a safer social web for millions of active web users.

Source: allfacebook