Thursday, May 7, 2009

Big Brother is Watching... Your Facebook

So I found something interesting while Stumbling my way through history class. Apparently, Facebook has initiated an interesting "security" (aka- keep Facebook's ass clear) feature. They are censoring all of their users emails. That's right folks: everything that you send in a Facebook message can, and will, be checked.

Now before everyone starts going all paranoid about the fact that all their email's are being read by Facebook, theres a few points you should consider. One, Facebook uses an automated checker that will scan all email for keywords, phrases, URL's and such. It's not like there are actual people sitting at a computer all day reading every word of your email (we call those people "stalkers"). Another point, Facebook isn't the only service that does this. Most email clients use similar programs to scan for, and remove, spam messages.

I decided to test their censorship, and here's what happens when you try to send "contraband" text (click for a larger version):

Pirate Bay,Facebook,Censorship,blocked,Big Brother

What was the terrible, terrible term that I put into this email message? A simple URL. I tried sending the URL for a torrent copy of a Don Quixote eBook (note that this was perfectly legal as the book is old enough that it is no longer bound under copyright laws), but it was blocked. Facebook wouldn't let me send the message, or allow my friend to receive it.

So is Facebook going too far? What do you guys think? Should they be censoring their users email? How "deep does the rabbit hole" go, as our good friend Morpheus would ask? It's possible for Facebook to search email for anything including drug usage, underage drinking, hackers, ponies, gum drop buttons... you get the point. So we ask you: They have the power to do this, they "technically" have the authority, but do they have the right? Should they?

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