A small faction of the hacker group ‘Anonymous’ has been very open and brazen about its plans to “destroy Facebook” on November 5th. The significance of this date will not be lost on those in the UK as it was the date of the failed Gunpowder Plot. So it’s a nice focal point for those who are championing a cause that opposes or disagrees with the status quo.
But why would Anonymous want to do this and what would be the respective pros and cons of such an act? Their main argument is one of privacy, saying that:
“Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world… Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your “privacy” settings, and deleting your account is impossible, even if you “delete” your account, all your personal info stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time. Changing the
privacy settings to make your Facebook account more “private” is also a delusion.”
This all sounds like a good reason to not join Facebook if you are cautious about what you do with your information. But what about the people who are already on Facebook, who have spent years cultivating their online persona? Surely by now if they were unhappy with things they would have left? Many people are aware of the risks and inconveniences that can befall them by having their information on Facebook. Others may not be aware of the privacy risks, however for one organisation to come along and say it is going to take all this away from people because that organisation takes umbrage with a certain facet of a network used by 750 million people seems a little extreme. There is also an element of pots and kettles about this. Anonymous went on to say:
“It is a battle for choice and informed consent… Facebook keeps saying that it gives users choices, but that is completely false.”
It is possible that Anonymous is correct in its assertion that Facebook has been harvesting data without our express consent, but then again, have the hackers actually given us the choice about whether or not we’d like our profiles and online communities we’ve spent years fostering simply deleted? Whilst the whole set-up might not be perfect, it appears that the common consensus (and by ‘common consensus’ I mean 750 million users) is that people are happy to continue using Facebook, despite its troubled privacy past.
It does appear that what Anonymous are trying to do is use a sledge-hammer to crack a nut, but one thing that cannot be claimed is that you weren’t warned about this. If indeed
Facebook does go ka-boom on November 5th, you’d be wise to make sure that you have managed to back up and store your Facebook content. Otherwise as the small group of Anonymous hackers have said “Your medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed” and you may well be left empty-handed.