Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production

Hey there! This article was written in 2006.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Having a Facebook thing

Posted 6 December 2006 in data-mining, Facebook, fear, friend, politics, and satire

Kellie left a comment on one of previous blog entries, but my reply got to be so long I felt it deserved its own blog entry.

What's the point of you having a facebook thing if i can't add you as my friend?

The point of me having a Facebook thing is that I want to be a part of the Fringe on Facebook, but I'm not interested in solidifying my relationships with people online. It appealed to me at one point, but that desire has since faded. It has already been revealed that the government has been illegally wiretapping American phone lines without warrants, and I see no reason that they won't attempt to automatically identify scary people like me based on the people I know.

Maybe I'm friends with a Japanese person (1940s), or a communist (1950s), or a black person (1960s). Or maybe the person is a homosexual (warm), or a Muslim (getting warmer), or a TERRORIST (hot hot hot!). Or maybe they'll one day become a terrorist, or maybe a race or belief that's currently innocuous will become big and scary in the future. It's tough to keep up with the politics of fear these days.

The point is, I don't trust our government not to accidentally mischaracterize me based on the people I know. They seem to be enjoying automated data mining, but content without context is error prone (look at the No Fly List), and mining Facebook or MySpace for relationships with undesirables isn't far fetched. In fact, I wanted to use slurs above to emphasize this culture of fear, but it would doubtless be taken out of context in the future.

...I guess I could use "commie" and "pinko", since we still hate communists. Could anybody reading this in the future please let me know if that changes? I would hate to go on record hating a group that has since been accepted.

For further reading about American fear, read about the Japanese American internment camps - during WWII, approximately 110,000 Japanese Americans (that is, all of them) were forcibly removed from their homes in California, Oregon, and Washington. They were placed in the American equivalent of concentration camps. The authorization to do so was given by Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said that we have "nothing to fear but fear itself" about 10 years earlier.

Then you can read about McCarthyism and the Second Red Scare. After that, read about the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), during which FBI agents broke into and vandalized homes and conducted assaults and beatings in addition to political assassinations. After that, you can read about Operation Northwoods, which was a proposed plan to enrage the American public into supporting a war against Cuba in the 1960s:

"Operation Northwoods, which had the written approval of the Chairman and every member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. Using phony evidence, all of it would be blamed on Castro, thus giving Lemnitzer and his cabal the excuse, as well as the public and international backing, they needed to launch their war."
--- James Bamford in his book, Body of Secrets

If reading about what the United States government has done in the past is too difficult, just rent "V for Vendetta".

Anyway, political motivations are the primary reason I'm not using Facebook in a more standard way. Besides, it's an extraordinary waste of my time to check my email, check my Facebook messages, check my MySpace messages, check my blog comments, read my feeds, and respond to IMs. This site is my comprehensive online presence, which is why I have put my email address on the front page. But I can certainly friend you here:

Kellie and I are friends. We met in high school. We have 37 friends in common. We have traveled together to McDonald's.

[Poke Kellie now]

I swear Kellie, if you make me look bad in the future by becoming a terrorist, I will absolutely be unhappy with you.

[WWII]: World War II [D.]: Delano [FBI]: Federal Bureau of Intelligence [IMs]: instant messages