WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is "most appalling spying machine ever invented"

WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is "most appalling spying machine ever invented"

Summary: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has called Facebook "the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented." Facebook has responded.

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange may be awaiting extradition to Sweden on sexual assault charges but that doesn't mean the media has lost interest in what he has to say about various important issues. In a recent interview with Russia Today, Assange was asked for his perspective on the revolutions in the Middle East.

After Assange compared the differences between what is happening in Egypt and Libya, he was asked about the role of social networks such as Facebook. That's when the WikiLeaks founder erupted:

Facebook, in particular, is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It's not a matter of serving a subpoena – they have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.

Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by US intelligence? No, it's not like that. It's simply that US intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure to them. And it's costly for them to hand out records, one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States' intelligence agencies, in building this database for them.

Facebook has since responded, denying Assange's claims at least somewhat. "We don't respond to pressure, we respond to compulsory legal process," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "There has never been a time we have been pressured to turn over data — we fight every time we believe the legal process is insufficient. The legal standards for compelling a company to turn over data are determined by the laws of the country, and we respect that standard."

You can watch Assange make his argument in the video below (the Facebook section starts at the 2-minute mark):

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Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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Talkback

23 comments
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  • He's right that it is wrong.

    But it's not exactly the fault of Facebook. It's the fault of the users and the voters. It is the users who are volunteering the information, and it is the voters who allow government to snoop in every nook and cranny of their private lives.

    Facebook's response that they have to comply with the law is correct as far as it goes. But do you think the company (and US Govt) would be so sanguine about it if the servers were all located in Moscow or Beijing and those foreign spy agencies were vacuuming all that data about US citizens?
    terry flores
    • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

      @terry flores

      The voters? Really? whom should we all have voted for then? What were the choices? I missed the material from the no gov 't on the Internet party.
      spin498
  • Assange is a tin-foil hat wearing nut case...

    with a Messiah complex. He wails on and on about the US and Australia even though his own government's ASIS keep a close eye on his actions and where-abouts probably more than the US's CIA.

    And when WikiLeaks has leaks.... boy does that get his goat and make him flip out.
    Bruizer
    • But he is certainly correct about spying: he felt this on his own skin

      @Bruizer: when government received all of spying information on Wikileaks-related accounts in Facebook, etc like very quickly.
      DDERSSS
    • Perhaps the tin-foil hat...

      @Bruizer

      ...would have helped him on the dancefloor in that Iceland Disco.. did y'all see that HORRIFIC display of, er, ah, "dancing?" Yikes!
      SAStarling
    • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

      @Bruizer

      Please stop using the "tin-foil wearing" tag line. Polling shows that forum posters interpret use of this as a sign of a government or military oeprative trolling the forums. The new preferred terms are:

      Truther
      Denier
      Birther

      All three terms score high with forum users and are far more likely to assist in reinforcing your cover. Please switch to these new terms immediately in all your posts.

      As always, if you have any questions check with your watch commander.

      That is all.


      District Supervisor
      Section D2
      NA Union, CI
      BlueCollarCritic
  • Truth.

    Why is everyone thats trying to get out the truth about this New World Order & Illuminati and such things like that is suddenly charged with sexual assault charges? C'mon you know thats all some governmental Bullshit!
    Niquee.
  • Message has been deleted.

    djbaxter@...
  • Errrr

    This coming from a soon to be convicted rapist as well as a man who buys or receives stolen merchandise. Last I check, if you buy or take data known to be stolen, it is a criminal offence.
    Gis Bun
    • Julian Assange's actions not rape

      @Gis Bun Depends on the country. If several countries (such as the U.S., U.K., France, Belgium, Netherlands, etc.) call his behavior normal consensual sex, and only Sweden classifies it as rape, then it's not really rape.
      Dr_Zinj
      • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

        @Dr_Zinj
        It's only not "really" rape if you do what he did in countries that don't consider it rape.

        If you do what he did in a country that considers it rape - then it is rape.
        Zippereye125
    • you are dumb

      @Gis Bun
      b_rolle
  • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

    Assange's 15 minutes of fame are up. Let's report on more pressing issues now, ZDNet.
    ejhonda
    • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

      @ejhonda

      I'd say Internet Privacy is a pressing issue! Facebook is a scary stuff. It's a database that you update willingly which unknowingly can be used against you. We've already seen people fired over it. It's only a matter of time before you see more lives ruined by it. It's only a matter of time before the GOV is using it to combat "Terrorism" and facebook will be quick to follow the laws and provide your information. This is a pressing issue and if you don't believe this stuff can happen your blind!
      Rob.sharp
  • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

    Julian who?
    spin498
  • He's right, you know...

    Facebook is, for all intents a huge database, which citizens of every country voluntarily add to on a daily basis. Ultimately, the US Information Awareness Office is behind the funding (not the operation) of Facebook.<br><br>Every bit of info added to Facebook is aggregated, looked at, and accessible to the US Government.<br><br><a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCmk7lBJB3M" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aCmk7lBJB3M</a>
    jasondlnd
  • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever inve

    Your information was known long before facebook came into existence. Every document you ever signed or filled out has been stored somewhere and used as data. Increased government equals less privacy. We've had ever increasing government since the beginning of the 20th century.
    katrillionaire9
    • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

      @katrillionaire@... and if you ever been in the armed forces they have way more on you than you'd imagine...or paid taxes...or have an SSN...or went to school...or used a credit card...etc etc etc
      david.hyte
  • Julian Assange pretty much right about Facebook

    Most U.S. companies have a pretty weak record of resisting pressure from elements of the justice department seeking information. That's one MAJOR reason why we fought to prevent the President having the authority to arbitrarily order the shut down of any communication company in the event of an alleged cyber attack.
    Dr_Zinj
  • RE: WikiLeaks founder: Facebook is 'most appalling spying machine ever invented'

    Unfortunately ... he his damned right !
    WhiteSand