Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Facebook Alert: When Social Networking Becomes Criminal

We're all well aware that employers use Facebook to screen job applicants and that divorce lawyers love what they can dig up on the social networking site. But what about more evil uses of this routine -- though powerful -- medium.

An opinion piece on NPR.org described how Iranian agents are using Facebook to track those who may disagree with the government, along with all their friends. It's pretty frightening.

As Evgeny Morozov notes:
"... It means that the Iranian authorities are paying very close attention to what's going on Facebook and Twitter (which, in my opinion, also explains why they decided not to take those web-sites down entirely - they are useful tools of intelligence gathering).

Second, it means, as far as authorities are concerned, our online and offline identities are closely tied and we have to be fully prepared to be quizzed about any online trace that we have left."
It's unsettling to think that forwarding messages or supporting others involved in causes may land somebody in the gulag -- or worse!


(Photo credit: "tyranny" by rachaelvoorhees, courtesy of Flickr.com)

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