by Joe Bear • April 9, 2018
(TFC) – The internet is not free.
The internet is paid for by marketing and advertising, and many companies make a great deal of money off of their ability to collect, analyze, and sell data that is used in marketing. This is how Google, Facebook, and many other companies make the majority of their money. Others, such as Amazon, Target, Walmart, etc. also do it. Every time a company offers you a discount for the use of a membership card they are tracking your purchases and collecting data. In one notorious instance, Target’s algorithms were able to determine that a teenage girl was pregnant before her parents were even aware.
In the recent Cambridge Analytica scandal, many people just began to become aware of the beginning of how much data Facebook gathers, yet they do not yet understand the power of the deductive analysis upon their data. It seems that few people are aware that Facebook not only gathers and stores everything that you post on your public profile, but everything that you type into your browser, even if you never send it, and this information is combined with the data that Facebook gathers from the tracking cookies that it plants on your computer. Many websites across the internet will put these cookies on your computer, even if you are not a Facebook user.
What can you do? The cookies used by Facebook, and others that are out to gather data about you generally never expire, so you should never allow cookies to last beyond the end of session (you can change this in your browser settings). There are browser extensions that will also help prevent Facebook tracking, and other forms of data collection, and some malware. The extensions “Ublock Origin,” “Disconnect,” and “Privacy Badger” should be used by everyone, and more advanced users should also consider either “NoScript” for Firefox or “ScriptSafe” for Chrome.
In order to prevent Facebook’s gathering of all the information on your phone, like your contacts, call history, texting data, and who knows what else, and giving it essentially total control over everything on your mobile device, the simple answer is to avoid using the Facebook app if you have an Android device. Due to the way the iPhone works, it is not as prone to the blatant breach of privacy, so use at your own risk on iPhones, as you are relying on the IOS to prevent the data gathering.
If you wish to use Facebook to continue to maintain contact with others, yet you either wish to take back your privacy, or wish to have a higher degree of digital security, or maybe you are just tired of “Facebook jail” whenever a Facebook censor needs to make their daily quota, there is now a tool to allow that. Thanks to crypto-activist Patrick Smith there is now a browser extension for Chrome (with Firefox extensions in the works) that will allow you to make encrypted posts that only your preferred audience can see. All others will see only encrypted nonsense. Because it is a browser extension, it does all the work for you, and it is based on the cryptography of OpenPGP using 4096 bit RSA keys. In short, it is truly secure up until an end node compromise, arguably as secure as Signal messenger in its use of cryptographic primitives. A use case even for activists that make practically all of their posts public is the group encryption capability. This allows a group of like-minded persons to create a Facebook group and use it to communicate with others, but securely and privately. Only those within the group that have the group passphrase will be able to read the posts within the group. Even in the case that a person has their device seized by law enforcement, or Facebook turns over their data to law enforcement, or should your Facebook is accessed by a malicious third party, without the passphrase required for your FaceMask decryption no one can read anything that was encrypted by FaceMask.
Setup and use are simple, and even the less technically inclined persons can follow this simple video tutorial. Facebook cannot use data against you that it does not have. Stalkers, law enforcement, and others cannot use information that they do not have. Using this tool, your information will never be revealed to those who you do not wish to see it. The potential to communicate privately and securely across a widely used public platform is simply amazing, and activists, in particular, would be foolish not to take advantage of this new capability.
You can check out the website HERE and the Facebook page HERE. Get the Chrome extension HERE. Even deleting Facebook will not remove the data they have about you, and that alone will not stop their use of tracking cookies. Government regulations will not help you, if anything the Government is attempting to weaken encryption capabilities like this. It’s your privacy. It’s your security. It’s up to you to keep it private and secure. Crypto-anarchists, cypherpunks, and crypto activists of all stripes are here to help you do just that.