The gathering, storing and selling of your information.
By General Maddox
Many people are unaware of how the popular social media network Facebook came to fruition. The little known fact is that the Central Intelligence Agency played a key role in giving Facebook’s creator Mark Zuckerberg the cash injection it needed to get off the ground.
It’s not as clear cut as that. No, the Director of the CIA didn’t knock on Zuckerberg’s dorm room door at Harvard and present him with a cheque. Though they may as well have. Instead back in 1999 the CIA formed a company called In-Q-Tel with the sole purpose of seeking out people and businesses with a knack for information technology in relation to data gathering, fund them, and guarantee a continuous flow of information. See this excerpt from the CIA’s own website;
By February 1999, the Corporation was established as a legal entity, and in March it received its first contract from the Agency. In-Q-Tel was in business, charged with accessing information technology (IT) expertise and technology wherever it exists and bringing it to bear on the information management challenges facing the Agency.
See it for yourself, though please do the following below if you do not wish to have your connection to the CIA tracked, traced & monitored. (As stated in their Security Policy on their website)
This isn’t exactly breaking news as it’s been established that the CIA, via their venture capital company, got Facebook up and running. But why? Like it says above the CIA realised that to stay ahead in the information age you need to be plugged into it. Facebook is a prime example of how to spy on people without actually spying on people. Technically it doesn’t need to spy on you because we’re all doing it for them. And they store your information. All of it. Every single bit and byte of data relating to your online activity is stored and an online identity is formed about you. Who you are, where you work, where you live, who your family and friends are, what your political views are, who you associate with, what websites you frequent. All of it.
But to what end? To put it simply, information is profitable and powerful.
There are firms across the globe that trade in such information. Buying and selling things like email addresses, mobile phone numbers, demographical statistics, etc… You can easily see them with a simple web search. However websites like Facebook, Google and YouTube have specially designed algorithms hiding behind every mouse click. They ingeniously use the data gathered to very quickly push customised advertising at you. This is the main revenue stream for these companies. Their systems enable them to target market to consumers as they click and type away on their sites. Even your geographical location is transmitted via your ISP to the site your visiting. Ever wondered how they knew you were looking for a new car in your capital city for example?
Therein lies the switch. You’ve suddenly gone from a consumer using a product to a product of consumerism. You are no longer an anonymous person on their computer doing a web search. Within a few clicks you have become the item a business wishes to sell and you didn’t even know it.
Whether or not that’s good thing or a bad thing is ultimately up to the individual. However keep in mind the next time you are online doing a web search, posting a status update, checking in to your current location or posting a photo, keep in mind that this information will ultimately be used against you at some point. Most likely just so you click an advertisement in the hope you will buy or use their product. There also may be nefarious reasons although unlikely. But the framework is in place for that to be just the case.