/Tag: privacy

Facebook is still garbage.

This seems… not particularly great. Even by Facebook standards.

Ironically, I finally deleted both Facebook and Messenger off my phone last night (I never use them, but still had the apps) and ahahaha I do not regret my life choices!

2018-12-19T15:35:52+10:0019th December, 2018|Tags: facebook, privacy, social media|

The bubble.

Will the GDPR spell the end of targeted advertising (and, by association, the commercial surveillance industry)? Eeeh… look. I’m dubious, but… one can only hope, I suppose.

2018-05-21T14:10:58+10:0020th November, 2018|Tags: advertising, privacy, tech|

Shadow profile.

More on the data broker business, including some frankly quite terrifying infographics.

The point here is that, a) pretty much all businesses are complicit in this practice, and b) it’s impossible to opt-out on an individual level. This stuff needs to be regulated. There’s no other way of dealing with it.

2019-01-17T08:35:18+10:0025th October, 2018|Tags: privacy, tech|


It’s interesting to ponder the ways in which privacy can be a privilege only for the wealthy. Not everyone can afford an army of hired goons and corporate secret police, an absurd wall in their backyard, and a buffer zone of razed lots around their house. Might similar class privileges someday extend into our digital lives? In the future, who will have the luxury of owning their data?

Jow Veix on stealing Zuckerberg trash.

Also, from this I learnt that there are apparently multiple legal precedents (in the US) that establish curbside trash as public, and because of that there’s a huge industry in the secure disposal of the garbage of rich people. Go figure.

2018-04-16T14:35:28+10:003rd October, 2018|Tags: culture, facebook, privacy|

The endless experiment.

But companies usually care about their products, protect them, try to improve their state.

If I were a product, Google would do its best not to destroy me. They have invested a lot of resources into this product, so why risk it by making baffling changes to both privacy and user experience? If I stay happy with Google’s offerings, I keep being the perfect product: I can be mined for data and “sold” perpetually.

Clearly, Google doesn’t care about me personally. And how could it? There are billions of people just like me who use their services every day.

Maybe we should stop thinking we’re “Google’s product” and start thinking we are data points in endless experiments.

Rakhim Davletkaliyev on Google.

I switched to using Firefox about a day before this latest round of being-evil from Google and… yeah. I do not regret it.1

  1. Even if the scrollbars in Masto are now hideously ugly… []
2018-09-28T08:40:09+10:0028th September, 2018|Tags: google, privacy, tech|


It’s not just Facebook; every single online publication, including all the ones reporting negative stories, are sharing your browsing data with third parties. Hell, the website at that link is sharing your data with third parties (9% of its page requests were blocked by uBlock). Hell, even this website is sharing your data with (pick one, depending on where you’re seeing it):

  • CloudFlare,, Google, Gravatar.
  • CloudFlare, Tumblr, Yahoo!, Scorecard Research, MarkMonitor, Cedexis, Fastly, FontAwesome, Google, jQuery.
  • CloudFlare, Dreamwidth, Google.

In theory, most of those sites perform “valid” services. CloudFlare and MarkMonitor do DNS.1 Cedexis and Fastly do CDN-style services. Google and FontAwesome serve fonts. Gravatar provides global user avatars. jQuery provides a popular JavaScript library. Tumblr/Yahoo! and Dreamwidth are their respective platforms. But just because they’re useful doesn’t mean they’re, a) 100% necessary, or b) not potentially tracking, commodifying, and on-selling huge quantities of surveillance data.

Oh, and then there are things like Scorecard Research, which is absolutely a surveillance company. So… yanno. There’s that.

  1. Among other things… []
2018-04-12T15:58:56+10:0027th September, 2018|Tags: privacy, tech|

‘Ware the VPN.

Speaking of the Woes of Latter-Day Social Media sites, Om Malik’s profile on “Facebook’s DNA” is an interesting read, particularly if you’re Old™ like me and remember the company’s “move fast and break things” (as opposed to “sell ads and sell ads”) phase.

Mostly, though, it contains this line:

The VPN data [from Facebook Protect] also allows Facebook to better target its ads — much like how Google Mail and Google Chrome allows Google to better target what ads you see. By the way, Facebook isn’t the only one who is taking data from VPN mobile streams. Other data brokers buy data from other VPN apps.

I’ve mentioned this before, but… If you use a VPN, just how much do you trust it?

Related: I really, really need to migrate to Firefox… oy.

2018-02-23T08:02:42+10:0012th August, 2018|Tags: facebook, privacy, social media, tech|

In every home, by choice.

Big Brother is here, except it’s more like Little Cousins where every “cousin” is owned by a separate company. They’re all still spyin’ onya, though!

It’s worth remembering that very few “smart home” functions actually need to phone home to central servers (and even the traditional exceptions, like natural language processing, are getting to the stage where they don’t have to either). Meaning this stuff is literally just gratuitous spying for the purpose of companies onselling the data they collect about your most personal and private moments. While you’re paying for the privilege.

Yeah. No thanks.

2018-02-20T09:52:19+10:0030th July, 2018|Tags: privacy, tech|

Common goods.

Data privacy is not like a consumer good, where you click “I accept” and all is well. Data privacy is more like air quality or safe drinking water, a public good that cannot be effectively regulated by trusting in the wisdom of millions of individual choices. A more collective response is needed.

Part of the problem with the ideal of individualized informed consent is that it assumes companies have the ability to inform us about the risks we are consenting to. They don’t. Strava surely did not intend to reveal the GPS coordinates of a possible Central Intelligence Agency annex in Mogadishu, Somalia — but it may have done just that. Even if all technology companies meant well and acted in good faith, they would not be in a position to let you know what exactly you were signing up for.

Zeynep Tufekci on risk.

2018-02-06T09:46:40+10:0024th July, 2018|Tags: infosec, privacy|