Lifestyle, Youth

Facebook or Fakebook?

The social network created by Mark Zuckerburg allows people to share photos and meet each other, along with other things; but behind this is hidden a dark side concerned with selling personal  information, where swindles and identity thefts occur, and even a portal for drug-trafficking.

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Javier Duque

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“By clicking on ‘Register’ you agree to our conditions and accept that you have read and understood our policy on the use of data”.

When a web-surfer arrives at this point, and is only a mouse-click away from entering the Empire of Facebook, the biggest social network in the world with 845 million active users, they should think carefully before doing it. Or rather, they should read the conditions.

Because from the moment you begin to be part of the network, any information published in the timeline of any person gives Facebook a licence which is “irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable , fully paid and worldwide, to use , copy, publicly reproduce and distribute the said content of the user for any purpose, whether commercial, for publicity or other purpose.”

And this is not all: if someone changes their mind and decides to close their account, these terms cease to apply. But the company can still keep copies of the user’s content prior to closure (See the updates to this on FBs new terms of service)

All this is simply the principle of the social network Facebook, in which during January the average user spent 405 minutes. But what other traps exist in this community? What happens with false names? And what happens to the profiles of people after they die?

Included among all the users of Facebook, they form, in almost compete security, the biggest database in the world. A source of information that doesn’t remain unused in the most powerful computers: far from it.

Facebook, like other social networks sells its users’ information to marketing companies, so that they can build profiles of people to whom they can sell particular products.

But some conspiracy theories go much further, alleging that Facebook was created by the CIA, for the purpose of recruiting agents, gathering information, and even mounting covert operations.

The US Army created hundreds of false profiles, in order to measure public opinion among Facebook users, and even had teams to manipulate opinion among network users.

As for fake profiles, they can often go far beyond making people laugh or enjoying playing a joke: data theft and attempts at swindles also occur. The latter is what happened to a woman who received a message supposedly from a friend, saying that she and her husband had been detained in London and needed money. The victim never suspected that it wasn’t really her friend, and by the time she realised, she had already sent money. She was cheated of $4,000.

Another clever trap used by confidence tricksters is stealing photos of US soldiers and incorporating them into false profiles, from which they send offers of friendship and declarations of love, prior to asking for money. This kind of identity theft has gone so far that sometimes photos of soldiers who had already been killed in combat have been used.

Drug-trafficking networks also use these methods to recruit new members. Several people arrested in the Phillipines said they had been contacted by their bosses through social networks.

Murders

The tricks mentioned so far do not injure anyone, at least not physically, but their effects can sometimes be lethal.

In summer 2010 a “Kill List” appeared on Facebook, in which the people it named were warned that they had 3 days to leave the city. A couple of days after the list appeared 2 young people named in it were found dead. Later another list with 31 names appeared, and one young person was killed and another injured while escaping his attackers.

In Britain a woman was murdered by her husband after saying on Facebook that they were separating. Another man was given a life sentence for killing his wife after she changed her social network status from ‘married’ to ‘single’.

Others have announced their intentions in advance, like an English man who stated he wanted to kill someone. He later went to a pub and provoked a fight with a man in which he beat him to death.

I don’t know if these people had Facebook accounts, but what happens to the 200,000 users – according to the social network – who die every year?

Although it probably isn’t the biggest concern of their relatives, it is possible to inform Facebook of their death and their page will be changed to a memorial. Once the death of a user is notified, only their friends continue to have access to their page, and can leave tributes.

Looking at this information, especially that concerning the sales of personal data, one can understand how it was possible for Facebook to make 3.7 billion dollars – according to their own figures – just from the adverts that appear on the right hand side of their pages.

The rest doesn’t seem to do other than confirm that certain imperialist networks and dark arts are hiding themselves behind the property of Zuckerburg, who is the youngest person to appear in the Forbes List, with a fortune of 13.5 billion dollars.

(Translated by Graham Douglas – Email: ondastropicais@yahoo.co.uk)

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