As long as Patrick is cheerfully bashing Facebook — that unrepentant bull in the china shop of our dwindling online privacy — I feel duty-bound to join in.
So, via Hit&Run, that government agents have been "friending" citizenship applicants, and other people of interest to the government, to monitor their status. And does the government understand the social networks it is using? Well, that depends on whom you ask:
First the memo engages in armchair psychology by assuming a large friend network indicates “narcissistic tendencies.” Second, and perhaps more disturbing, the memo assumes a user’s online profile always accurately reflects her offline life. While Facebook and MySpace would like their users’ profiles to always be current and accurate, users may have valid reasons for keeping some of their offline life out of their online profiles (for example, many users still feel their relationship status is private). Unfortunately, this memo suggests there’s nothing to prevent an exaggerated, harmless or even out-of-date off-hand comment in a status update from quickly becoming the subject of a full citizenship investigation.
I'll pass on the narcissism issue.
But it would certainly not be out of character for government agents to completely misunderstand hyperbole, sarcasm, and venting and take it as literal truth — they do it with real-world verbal comments all the time, so what are the chances they'll take a contextual view of the sort of nonsense we spout online?
If anything, the government is slow in picking up on this possibility. Lawyers already knew that Facebook is Walt Disney World for attacking credibility.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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