In September 2006, I was growing ever more wary of the power of the federal government, because Congress had recently passed the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which ended habeas corpus (a fundamental human right since the Englandâ€™s Magna Carta was signed in 1215) in the United States. There is a debate over whether United States citizens have lost their right to a fair trial, or whether it is only captured foreigners suspected of being associated with terrorism that have lost this right. Just hope you donâ€™t get accused of a crime that our President personally considers terrorism, because you wonâ€™t have the opportunity to prove your own innocence.
Around this time, I became worried that the federal government would begin to undermine ourÂ human rights, including personal privacy. So, I queried Facebook, which has a lot of personal information about a lot of young people, to ï¬nd out exactly what information they record about their users. Specifically, I asked whether they keep track of the pictures we view and whether â€œany government entity [has] ever had access to your database of everyoneâ€™s information.â€ Many days passed without an answer, so I contacted them again. Their response: â€œI was under the impression that I had already responded to your questions, Steve. Apologies, I guess your email got lost along the way.â€ Yeah, sure.
Eventually, a man by the name of â€˜Pete from Facebookâ€™ replied. (I wonder why he doesnâ€™t specify his real last name. Perhaps he doesnâ€™t like revealing his personal information to people he doesnâ€™t know…) He replied with, in part, â€œWe do not give anybody access to that sort of information, nor will we ever. Donâ€™t worry.â€ How reassuring.
Unfortunately, I never got a straight answer as to what Facebook records, only a convoluted answer as to what Facebook would willingly share with third parties. After this experience, I became more concerned with personal privacy. Our situation isnâ€™t getting any better.
Admittedly, Facebook is a great way to keep in contact with old friends, just so long as you donâ€™t mind Zuckerberg making money off of your political allegiance and sexual orientation.