clandestine study
Posted at 23:03h, 05 Aug 2014 in List Archive by Bonnie Halper No Comments 135 Likes Share

Good morning, All,

We’ve gotten feedback that you all found out about it too late – so this is your head’s up, up front and personal – don’t say we didn’t flag it. Our guest is very active investor Mike Edelhart, who spends ½ his time on the West Coast and isn’t readily accessible to the masses. Here’s your rare chance for a one-on-one, and maybe get his perspective on the startup scene on both coasts. It’ll be a good one and hope you can make it! Breakfast is included, of course, and we always leave time for networking. Register here.

A few weeks ago, we found out that Facebook was engaged in a clandestine study to find out if emotions are contagious on social networks. Of course, it’s always our theory that the first shot across the bow is more or less the red herring to see how far they can push the line and get away with. Were there serious repercussions? Would you have remembered that little exercise, had we not reminded you?

As we said, red herring. This past week, Facebook announced that they are forcing all their users around the world to download its standalone Messenger app – if you want to use their mobile chat, that is. Please don’t click on the download link just yet. We understand that you give something up when you sign on the dotted line for free stuff, but Facebook has gone way over the line this time. The Insidiousness of Facebook Messenger’s Mobile App Terms of Service is an absolute must-read, and shame on you, TechCrunch, for your glowing review of the app and not a mention of the sinister TOS, which the HuffPo covered in detail. The highlights: “Facebook’s Messenger App requires the acceptance of an alarming amount of personal data and, even more startling, direct control over your mobile device. You might as well send FB access to your bank account and be done with it. Oh, wait

·  Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.

Forget it. This makes access to your bank account more or less a done deal, too, albeit in dribs and drabs.

Allows the app to record audio with microphone. This permission allows the app to record audio at any time without your confirmation.
Allows the app to take pictures and videos with the camera. This permission allows the app to use the camera at any time without your confirmation.
Allows the app to read you phone’s call log, including data about incoming and outgoing calls. This permission allows apps to save your call log data, and malicious apps may share call log data without your knowledge.

There are a number of references to malicious apps. With an app like this, one can only speculate how closely Facebook is working with the NSA. Read the full article. Allot yourself three brain cells. Go!

While the privacy line was breached long ago, this is far beyond what we’ve seen to date and far beyond the pale. This is a line in the sand. We may be a so-called much more sophisticated or informed audience here, and we do realize that it’s opt in, but a lot of kids use Facebook chat. Think that they all sat there and read the fine print? Or told their parents, who are paying the bills and may not even be aware that the app is out there, that they’ve downloaded it? And why does Facebook need to record audio or take pictures and/or videos at will? This is frightening. Yes, download here and you’ve pretty much ceded control of your phone, and worse, to Facebook.

Let’s put all of this in different persepective: Elon Musk says artificial intelligence is ‘potentially more dangerous than nukes’, and this is another must-read. Remember, Google owns Google Boston Dynamics, makers of the creepiest robots on earth, and an artificial intelligence company called DeepMind. Musk is suggesting that we be careful and maybe think first and consider the consequences before we leaping headfirst into everything this brave new world could potentially offer, and as we see from this Facebook example, what with over a billion downloads of the messenger app in the first week alone, that’s clearly happening.

In a Facebook world, talk may be cheap, but cha, for starters, t is coming at way too high a price. Onward and forward.