As society, we have been repeatedly pushed right to the edge of tolerance for the past ten years: forced by our government to participate in wars we don’t believe in1, subjected to changes in laws we don’t agree with2, and more recently, scammed out of our savings, hopes and dreams which a capitalistic society has been selling us3 since before we can remember.
The invention of Wikileaks, founded in part by Julian Assange in 2006 stirred a new era, concerned with unveiling facts and figures that capitalistic corporations and governments want hidden. It’s come at the perfect time; at the turning point for imperialism: with the capitalist economic crisis4, declining US & western economy, where people are no longer accepting the decisions of leaders, but questioning.
WikiLeaks has breached the capitalist wall of lies and cover-ups in various multiple ways:
- by exposing the dirty truth about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan5,6;
- through unveiling the huge swathe of embarrassing US diplomatic cables7;
- and revealing truths about a major US banking institution8.
As a result, a vast cover-up plan has begun, by the government, the media, the public to silence a threat so serious to capitalism. Julian Assange is facing serious charges9, trumped up or not, and abnormal extradition practices for a sex charge have been carried out with (in my opinion) the intention of discrediting the reputation of such an organisation.
This, for many, was the final straw and we are now seeing throughout the world people, the public like you and I fighting (figuratively speaking) back against consumerism, capitalism, greed in the form of protests10. We are occupying parts of New York City, London, Hong Kong and many other cities around the world, and we can already see the panicked reception of this great threat from authorities in the form of disrespect, violence and even the use of weapons on unarmed civilians11.
We have reached an age where we defend our human rights, our right to liberty, a fair trial, our freedom of conscience, of expression and freedom of assembly- we are willing to put our lives in danger to stand up against those who threaten these sacred rights… yet all the while, what are we doing to protect another vital right: the right to privacy?
Facebook is a social networking website founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg which catalogues not only who you are, who your friends are, what newspaper articles you read, what you’re interested in, what you look like, who you are in a relationship with, but also uses facial recognition software, and logs your GPS location at any given time12.
Facebook’s entire business model is based on collecting and sharing user information13. Both Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg have openly taken the position that the sharing of information, being openly connected and transparent is the new social norm, and that privacy is outdated14.
This open approach to business has left Facebook attempting to navigate its way around a human right that the company has a responsibility to respect — privacy. Until Facebook takes this responsibility seriously, it will continue to let down its users.
Not only this, but Facebook has a clause whereby they can (and do) sell your private information including phone numbers, addresses and e-mail addresses to third parties16; basically anyone who can cough up the cash is able to access data on you. Yes, there are some procedures in line to protect your privacy as a user, but how can we trust that this information is being kept secure and private? This concern was demonstrated publicly most recently with the use of profile pictures in third party advertisements through data leaks to third parties on Facebook17.
The truth is that many governments take advantage of Facebook’s open platform to conduct espionage18, censor and to identify ‘enemies’ such as individuals who merely ‘like’ a particular politician, or to track activists they don’t like by identifying who is a ‘friend’ of government critics.
For example, the government of Iran might well be interested in a list of everyone who ‘likes’ Mousavi, a reformist politician there. Egyptian President Mubarak could take interest in those who liked any of the pages or organisers of protests. The possibilities for officials and those who work for any particular government are endless, and with the public having increasingly less faith in the people who run their country and the values that they stand for, this issue is more lucrative than ever.
So Mark Zuckerberg gives our personal information to corporations for money and he’s Time’s person of the year19 whilst Julian Assange has been labelled by the vice president of the United States of America as a terrorist20 because he gives personal information on corporations to us for free!
The call is out for the public to respect and defend the rights which are as humans afforded to us, but a major one is being overlooked which can so easily be rectified; all we need is- an ethical, respectful and non-capitalistic alternative social networking site which doesn’t make you wade through pages of settings and options just to keep your profile secure and share what you want with whom you want 21 like Diaspora and we’ll all be rid of the new age Big Brother22 that we choose daily to live in.