Social media and surveillance



Every time you sign up to a social media platform and share information, you’re taking a risk! Anyone who thinks otherwise is a twat! So while I was really cheesed off, I wasn’t in the least bit surprised to learn that data analytics company Cambridge Analytica, who specialise in ‘psychographic’ profiling, had reportedly harvested data from 50 million Facebook users, effectively ‘creating personality profiles’ (based on food, drink, vehicle, TV show preferences, etc.,) to target voters in an alleged ‘collusion’ between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 US election.

  In fact, readers, I was more flabbergasted at the utter naivety of people being ‘stunned,’ ‘staggered,’ and ‘shocked,’ that this was happening. Mind you, these ‘astonished’ individuals are the very ones who share every single minutiae of their mundane lives from how many times they pee, to letting us know where they are at any given hour…‘checked in at Terminal 2, Dublin airport,’ ‘eating a burger at XYZ,’ ‘drinking cocktails at ABC’, etc. Oookay then, so we defo know you’re not at home and that state-of-the-art 60” HD TV you bought last week is just waiting to be stolen!

  I mean, if you’re going to seriously breach your own personal security and believe what is probably the most ingenious mass surveillance tool known to humankind, (gathering more intel than that curtain-twitching aul wan down the road could ever accumulate), wouldn’t hoover up all that juicy data and exploit it – as opposed to respecting it – then you’re too pea-brained to be allowed have a social media account.

  Now while these damning revelations and allegations has led to concerns and scrutiny regarding how Facebook handles our personal data (which by the way it gathers and profits from), I’m also concerned about an article in the Irish Independent which stated ‘A 2011 audit by Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) said Facebook’s security measures were “not considered sufficient” to prevent third party apps from unauthorised use of personal data” – and I wonder why weren’t sufficient intervention strategies put in place to prevent this latest data grab?

  Now while I regularly update my privacy settings and I’m careful about what I post on social media, this extremely exploitative operation has made me more aware, and I went into my account to see if I could make myself any safer when posting on Facebook. Facebook, by the way, is a wonderful platform to connect and keep in touch with family and friends, so I’m not trying to demonise it, just trying not to fall prey to its micro-targeting techniques.

  Below are the precautions you can take:

• You can delete your account altogether or put it into hibernation.

• If that’s not an option, log into Facebook, go into ‘settings’, look at the ‘Apps’ button and click on it. See which Apps you’ve entered through Facebook and click on ‘disable’ to get rid of any you don’t want; especially third party ones.

• Go back into ‘settings’ and below the ‘Apps’ button, you’ll see ‘Adds’…click on this and you’ll see all of your interests logged there by Facebook. Yep, it’s like a CV of things you’ve either liked or have researched which are now being used to target you through advertisements on your page; go into each one and delete them today.

Letter to Celeste Erlach…

(The harassed mother of two whose open letter, (rant) to her husband, detailing his flaws, went viral last week!)

Dear Celeste, dear misguided, silly little Celeste…so you want a perfect husband do ya? Someone who puts his dirty washing into the linen basket as opposed to beside it; someone who manages to bring the dishes from the table to the dishwasher yet can’t actually cope with placing them inside the machine, someone who’ll not just ‘watch the baby,’ but who’ll soothe it, change its nappy and rock it to sleep as opposed to eyeballing the snooker while the rugrat munches the dog’s food; someone who doesn’t need constant instruction regarding his shortcomings, someone you can trust to do the weekly food shop without worrying he’ll come home with a year’s supply of Pringles and forget the rusks…that right? Well love, let me know how that works out for ya!

  Look, while it’s clear you’re no longer basking in the feel-good glow of new motherhood, where you thought that, come the baby’s arrival, this wonderful man you adore (who has never so much as washed a cup) would suddenly morph into Mrs. Doubtfire, thinking that publicly shaming him on social media would help your marriage/parenting woes, suggests that you need your head examined love!

  If my husband were to post my shortcomings (of which I’m certain there are many) on Facebook, I’d divorce him…end of. So cop on Celeste, and understand that all relationships come with their own set of standards and expectations and when they fail, the very last thing on your mind should ever be to have a public discussion around them; but rather to sit down and torture your husband; sorry, chat with him.

  Bear in mind missus, that when you love someone and have invested a major portion of your life in a relationship/marriage with them, it can be easy to overlook certain annoying patterns/behaviours, and while that doesn’t mean you have to put up with them, it does mean you owe it to that person (and yourself) to try to iron things out in private and give them a chance to address them and, if you’re lucky enough, to correct them.

Have a wonderful Easter everyone; enjoy your yummy eggs! xx