Privacy and Facebook Chat
While chatting with my husband on Facebook, I used the Hebrew word for tea kettle, kum-kum [pronounced “koom-koom”]. I was shut down as soon as I sent the message. A warning popped up that I had been abusive.
On his end, my husband was kicked off and forced to change his password. I was given the choice to delete the conversation or remain locked out. Deleting the conversation means deleting every message ever exchanged between us.
For using the word “kum-kum?”
Now, I am quite sure that there is no creepy Facebook employee who sits there and monitors people’s conversations. What Facebook does use are algorithms and it’s just as bad, if not worse. An algorithm is a a computer program whose job it is to perform a particular function, like hunting for bad words. While I can see the usefulness of monitoring the accounts of minors, when the user is an adult, that kind of intrusion is not only unwelcome, but an abuse of one’s basic rights. Some may say that Facebook is free and therefore they get to set the rules. The counter argument to that is that Facebook’s business model is to profit from each and every single one of its users by virtue of their being there. Your habits, likes, dislikes, opinions on anything and everything, all are collected and sold to other corporations who then target their ads specifically to your profile.
Which brings a slew of other questions regarding what is done with the data. Some of those questions have been debated before, particularly as it pertains to Facebook’s relationship with law enforcement. Would my use of words in a foreign language trigger their algorithm to report me to the NSA or FBI? What if I were to use Arabic words?
I am also a Facebook customer. I place ads on Facebook to publicize my work. This is not how I want to be treated either as a user or a paying customer. It’s creepy. Facebook is not my nanny nor is it anyone else’s. I neither need to be spied on by a corporation, not censored and disciplined by it when I express myself.
Edward Snowden was right about the direction this nation has gone in. While today’s example is trivial, it is only one example that I experienced. We are not doing what we should as citizens and are losing our freedoms as a result.