Goodbye Facebook – Spy you later.

“They know what you like, what you think, what you believe, your desires, your intentions, your aspirations, and your fears.  They know where you live, where you work, where you shop, where you relax, and where you travel.  They know your friends, your family, your colleagues, and your classmates.  They know what you eat and when you sleep.  They know your face from every possible angle.  They know your your weight, your eye colour, your hair colour – today, yesterday, and tomorrow.  This is your dossier, and Facebook owns it.”

Facebook is watching you.Facebook knows all of this because you’ve shown them and told them.  You’ve given them the means to dig deep and fill in all gaps you’ve left empty.  You have given them the keys to your life.  Facebook knows more about you than you know about yourself.  And if you think you can hide behind a profile name like ChillyWilly88, think again.

Are you skeptical?  Do you think I’m paranoid?  Overreacting perhaps?  Follow me down the rabbit hole, and decide for yourself …

  1. Every face in every photo on Facebook is identified, willingly, by users like you.  Without realizing it, you and your friends have assisted in creating the largest database of faces and names ever compiled – hundreds of millions, approaching one billion.
  2. You have voluntarily allowed Facebook to track your movements by enabling the GPS function on your mobile phone.  By agreeing to Facebook’s terms of use, you have given them access to your location.  Within only a few weeks, your predictable daily pattern of activity emerges.  Not only do they know where you are now, they know where you will be an hour from now.
  3. You have told Facebook what you like, over and over and over.  Every time you click “like” you are adding another piece of psychographic meta-data to your growing dossier.  Have you noticed that most websites have a “like” button?  And that you normally don’t have to log-in to Facebook to “like” something, because you are already logged-in? The presence of a Facebook “like” button on a website indicates the use of tracking cookies, allowing Facebook to know what websites you visit, even if don’t click “like”.  This gives Facebook the means of building a hierarchical psychographic profile for every user.
  4. Now, that’s just you.  What about your “friends”?  Have they tagged you in photos?  Where you “with” them when they updated their status?  More meta-data: where, when, what, with whom, how often.
  5. Have you commented on a post?  What did you say?  Facebook can read.  The text, context, hypertext, and subtext of every comment you make is filtered and interpreted; creating a very complete picture of what really makes you tick.
  6. When are you active on-line?  When do you use Facebook the most?  When do you surf the web?  By monitoring your activity week after week, Facebook knows what shifts you work, when you sleep, when you take your lunch break, when you attend pottery class.  They also know what church you attend and how regularly go.

In short … Facebook + mobile phone = 24/7 surveillance

Now, I will repeat what I said earlier: “They know what you like, what you think, what you believe, your desires, your intentions, your aspirations, and your fears.  They know where you live, where you work, where you shop, where you relax, and where you travel.  They know your friends, your family, your colleagues, and your classmates.  They know what you eat and when you sleep.  They know your face from every possible angle.  They know your your weight, your eye colour, your hair colour – today, yesterday, and tomorrow.  This is your dossier, and Facebook owns it.

Why should you care?  What difference does it make if Facebook knows you are gay, or atheist, or democrat?  Under Facebook’s terms, your data will remain private as long as they wish.  Your data is their property, and when they choose to sell your dossier, they won’t have to ask your permission.  You have already given it.

Cape Breton: Logistical Key to the North Atlantic

The 60th Meridian WestFrom the North Pole, travel south for 4900km along the sixtieth meridian, through the western edge of Greenland, the Davis Straight, and Labrador. Or, alternatively, travel north from the equator for 5100km, through Venezuela and the Caribbean, along the Eastern Seaboard.

You will arrive on a small island connected to the Atlantic coast of North America by a man-made causeway.  This unassuming island is one of the most strategically significant pieces of land on the globe.  For four hundred years this small island was fundamental in the settling of the New World by Europeans.  It was crucial to the construction of one of the world’s longest rail lines, stretching across the entire North American continent.  The Sydney Harboursteel forged on this island was instrumental to the success of the Allied forces in WWI and WWII.  This little island’s role in the colonization and modernization of the North American continent is often under-appreciated.

Now, in the first quarter of the 21st century, this island is approaching abandonment.  The population is shrinking and its economy is collapsing.  This decline, however, makes little sense.  The island is rich is natural resources like coal, timber, fresh water, fertile farmland, and plentiful fishing grounds.  Its infrastructure includes hydro, wind, and tidal power, an airport capable of handling some of the largest commercial airliners, and a lingan_windharbour, deep and wide enough to handle Post-Panamax container ships.  Highways and railways connect the island to all points from the Great Lakes and southward to New England and Florida.  Housing, healthcare, and amenities already exist for hundreds of thousands of skilled and educated workers; alumni of the island’s university and colleges.  This island also happens to be a popular international tourist destination, with beaches, mountains, scenery, and a culture found nowhere else on Earth.

With all of these attributes, you may ask, why is the island’s population disappearing?  How is it possible that the economy of such a place could be languishing?  Simple.  The island was addicted to coal and steel.  For generations, the working class of this island was kept impoverished and practically enslaved by the coal and steel companies of the 19th and early 20th centuries.  Gradually, thanks in part to unionization and legislation, working conditions and quality of life improved and the island became a thriving blue collar community of roughly 300,000.  Eventually, however, many factors, including mismanagement, increased competition, and decreased demand on the world market, lead to the failure of the island’s key export industries, culminating in a protracted economic recession.    Cape_Breton_Island

Today, in the midst of decline, this island holds a rare opportunity for industrial investment on a grand scale.  Shipping lanes and railways, highways and airports, ample energy and human resources, midway between the oilfields of Newfoundland’s Grand Banks and the US Eastern Seaboard; waiting patiently at the mouth of the Saint Lawrence Seaway, this island is truly the logistical key to the North Atlantic.  This island is Cape Breton.