Why the world’s secret police want you to join Facebook ..

mickyates ideas, Politics, Technology, Web 2.0 Leave a Comment

The Net DelusionJust been reading a fascinating (if scary) review on today’s Sunday Times website.

The article is based on the book, “The Net Delusion“, by Evgeny Morozov which will be published on January 13. Morozov also blogs at Foreign Policy.

One of Morozov’s main suggestions is that we are all being tracked in ways we probably won’t like, not only by commercial concerns but by Governments and other political interests. Web 2.0 and its social networks makes this scarily easy …

The Sunday Times article was written by Morozov. Here’s the introduction:

“The Tits Show sounds like a promising name for a weekly internet production. Hosted by Russia.ru, an online television station, the show’s format is rather simple. A horny and slightly overweight young man travels around Moscow nightclubs in search of perfect breasts. Moscow nightlife being what it is, the show is never short of things to film and women to grope and interview.

The mastermind behind this tawdry show and the station that produces it? Not some web-savvy Muscovite entrepreneur, as one might expect, but the Kremlin itself.

The Tits Show is just one of more than two dozen weekly and daily video shows produced by the Russia.ru team to satisfy the quirky tastes of Russian internet users. Some of those shows discuss politics – there are even a few odd interviews with Russia’s president, Dmitry Medvedev – but most are quite frivolous in nature. A sample episode of the “books show” involved an exploration of the best books about alcohol available in Moscow’s bookstores.

If one reads the western press, it’s easy to get the impression that the internet in Russia is an effective and extremely popular vehicle for attacking the government. While raising money for sick children and campaigning to curb police corruption are highly visible on the Russian internet, it’s still entertainment and social media that dominate. The most popular queries on Russian search engines are not for “what is democracy?” or “how to protect human rights” but for “what is love?” and “how to lose weight”.

Russia.ru does not hide its Kremlin connections; senior members of the regime’s various youth movements even have their own talk shows. The need for such a site stems from the Russian government’s concern that the transition from the world of television, which it fully controls, to the anarchic world of the internet might undermine its ability to set the agenda and shape how the public reacts to news.”

Wow!

Read on to hear more about the Iranian Government’s efforts to use Social Media – and you will discover it is not quite the wonderful world of democracy that the Twitter fans (of which I am unashamedly one) foretold during the Green Revolution.

Tim Berners LeeTim Berners-Lee called for better privacy control a while back, else he fears we will kill the Web he invented and gave to us all.

In a Guardian interview in 2009, he said:

“We use the internet without a thought that a third party would know what we have just clicked on,” Berners-Lee said.

Yet the URLs [webpages] people use reveal a huge amount about their lives, loves, hates and fears. This is extremely sensitive information.

People use the web in a crisis, when wondering whether they have a sexually transmitted disease, or cancer, when wondering if they are homosexual and whether to talk about it … to discuss political views.”

He said people “use the internet to inform ourselves as voters in a democracy”, adding: “We use the internet to decide what is true and what is not. We use the internet for healthcare and social interaction.”

So, this is one book I plan to read … The question is, of course, what to do about it all?