They are convenient, relatively easy to use, and help millions of people around the world stay connected with family and friends, at least digitally. But social media portals like Facebook and Twitter are increasingly being exposed as what appear to be bait-and-switch spying networks funded, and potentially even run covertly, by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and other government agencies. And this is all apparently being done for the purpose of gathering real-time data on the private lives of individuals willing to freely post such information for the world to see.
It is something that serious investigative journalists and skeptics alike have suspected for years, especially as sites like Facebook have gradually and quietly eliminated users’ access to the privacy controls that once kept their information “classified” by default. Today, Facebook is literally an open book of information that is freely available not only to the rest of the internet, but also to numerous government agencies that many years ago invested millions of dollars to make social networking sites like Facebook what they are today.
The way in which people frantically communicate online via Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging can be seen as a form of modern madness, according to a leading American sociologist.
“A behaviour that has become typical may still express the problems that once caused us to see it as pathological,” MIT professor Sherry Turkle writes in her new book, Alone Together, which is leading an attack on the information age.
Turkle’s book, published in the UK next month, has caused a sensation in America, which is usually more obsessed with the merits of social networking. She appeared last week on Stephen Colbert’s late-night comedy show, The Colbert Report. When Turkle said she had been at funerals where people checked their iPhones, Colbert quipped: “We all say goodbye in our own way.”
As I was roaming through the blogsphere, catching up on some of the news and notes I have missed in recent weeks, I read one of Jeremy Zawondy’s recent blog posts addressing a very similar topic. He poses the question does the convenience of having access to someone with answers inhibit people from thinking about and solving their own problems, when they know a quick email, twit, or IM will get them the answer without them having to make any real effort?
Many of the new Social Media websites seem to encourage this type of behavior. More specifically I am starting to see this type of behavior a lot on Twitter. I am not sure whether or not it is the law of averages or maybe even just the company I keep on the service? Maybe I interact with too many online marketers?
But it seems like as the list of people I follow grows, more and more I am seeing requests for superfluous information that could quickly be ascertained on their own in the same amount of time it would take someone else to twit back.