There’s Surveillance

…and there’s surveillance.

The FBI is looking at ways to scan Facebook (and Twitter, et al.) postings with a view to proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests.

In late 2016, following an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union into social-media monitoring done by outside developers on behalf of law enforcement, Facebook and Twitter cracked down on those services and explicitly banned the use of their data for surveillance purposes….
Facebook’s ban allowed law-enforcement agencies to look at public profiles manually but not use software designed for large-scale collection and analysis of user data.


the restrictions reflect a growing understanding that even information posted to a public social network can be misused when gathered in large quantities and paired with outside data sources.

But Facebook’s objections (and they’re not the only Big Tech objectors) are just a bit precious and not a little bit hypocritical. Facebook does exactly that sort of surveillance—with software, mind you—explicitly with a view to selling those connections to advertisers, and others.

The only difference is claimed purpose.

If such surveillance is a bad thing—and it most assuredly is—Facebook, et al., need to cut it out, too.

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