The Living Thing / Notebooks :

The Quantified Other

How I help Facebook learn enough to replace me with Danbots

Context: I am writing this from inside Australia, where it is illegal for companies to sell encryption without spyware, and where it is illegal to confess to the spyware. Information in Australia is accessed freely by an unaccountable surveillance apparatus. [No worries, mate](].

Big data, pre-existing conditions, the pan*icon, and the messy politics of monetising the confidential information of the masses for the benefit of the powerful. This will be lots of opinion pieces; for practical info see Confidentiality, a guide to having it.

Here I am mostly interested in transnational corporate surveillance. state surveillance is related, of course.

Corporate Surveillance in Everyday Life:

Report: How thousands of companies monitor, analyze, and influence the lives of billions. Who are the main players in today’s digital tracking? What can they infer from our purchases, phone calls, web searches, and Facebook likes? How do online platforms, tech companies, and data brokers collect, trade, and make use of personal data?

Listening back is a chrome extension that turns the cookies your websites use to track you into a weird symphony.

Popular mechanics details Microsoft’s lense upon the petri dish you live upon. Microsoft knowing you

Microsoft is able to index people and things in a room in real time. What that means, practically, is that if you can point a camera at it, you can search it.[…]

Once you can identify people and objects by feeding the computers images of Bob and jackhammers so they can learn what each of those things look like, you can start applying a framework of rules and triggers on top of the real world. Only [Certified Employees] can carry the [Jackhammer] and [Bob] is a [Certified Employee] so [Bob] is allowed to carry the [Jackhammer]. The limits to what kind of rules you can make are effectively arbitrary.[…]

The privacy implications, which Microsoft didn’t venture to mention on stage, are chilling even in a hospital or factory floor or other workplace. Yes, systems like this could ensure no patient collapses on a floor out of sight or that new hires aren’t juggling chainsaws for fun. But it also would make it trivial to pull up statistics on how any employee spends her day—down to the second. Even if it is ostensibly about efficiency, this sort of data can betray all sorts of private information like health conditions or employees interpersonal relationships, all that with incredible precision and at a push of a button. And if the system’s not secure from outside snooping?[…]

Robin Hanson’s hypocralypse is an interesting alternate slant that considers this transparency might be a problem also when it’s not just the elites necessarily.

within a few decades, we may see something of a “hypocrisy apocalypse”, or “hypocralypse”, wherein familiar ways to manage hypocrisy become no longer feasible, and collide with common norms, rules, and laws.[…]

Masked feelings also helps us avoid conflict with rivals at work and in other social circles. […] Tech that unmasks feelings threatens to weaken the protections that masked feelings provide. That big guy in a rowdy bar may use new tech to see that everyone else there can see that you despise him, and take offense. You bosses might see your disrespect for them, or your skepticism regarding their new initiatives. Your church could see that you aren’t feeling very religious at church service. Your school and nation might see that your pledge of allegiance was not heart-felt.

Chris Tucchio, Why you can’t have privacy on the internet:

A special case of fraud which also relates to the problem of paying for services with advertising is display network fraud. Here’s how it works. I run “My Cool Awesome Website About Celebrities”, and engage in all the trappings of a legitimate website - creating content, hiring editors, etc. Then I pay some kids in Ukraine to build bots that browse the site and click the ads. Instant money, at the expense of the advertisers. To prevent this, the ad network demands the ability to spy on users in order to distinguish between bots and humans.

Facebook will engineer your social life.

A quick guide to asking Cambridge Analytica for your data

Can you even get off facebook without getting all your friends off it?

Connections like these seem inexplicable if you assume Facebook only knows what you’ve told it about yourself. They’re less mysterious if you know about the other file Facebook keeps on you—one that you can’t see or control.

Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users. Contact information you’ve never given the network gets associated with your account, making it easier for Facebook to more completely map your social connections.

Vicki Boykis, Facebook is collecting this:

Facebook data collection potentially begins before you press “POST”. As you are crafting your message, Facebook collects your keystrokes.

Facebook has previously used to use this data to study self-censorship […]

Meaning, that if you posted something like, “I just HATE my boss. He drives me NUTS,” and at the last minute demurred and wrote something like, “Man, work is crazy right now,” Facebook still knows what you typed before you hit delete.

The Trust Engineers is a chin-stroking public radio show about how Facebook researches people. If you project it forward 10 years, this should evoke pants-shitting grade dystopia, when epistemic communities are manufactured to order by an unaccountable corporation in the interests of whomever.