Fake social network PRSM demonstrates we're willing to share everything anyway

Fake social network PRSM demonstrates we're willing to share everything anyway

Summary: A spoof social network jokes to share absolutely everything (and then some), but then again, how much are you sharing with the likes of Google and Apple already?


Are you sharing information about who you contact frequently, locations you've visited, or how you have used your credit card lately with a vast online network?

Sardonically advertised as the "sharing network," a new social media site dubbed "PRSM" promises to help you with those tasks -- all without requiring you to lift a finger.

Some of the immediate benefits to PRSM include unlimited storage (thanks to massive data centers and super-computers that can handle "a quadrillion requests per second") along with no pesky advertising to get in the way.

Boasting to serve more than 320 million people and counting, PRSM touts that "no matter where you go, there it goes" so that users will never "worry about not sharing again."

That includes sharing data about blog posts, TV shows watched, Internet searches, and so much more.

Before we go any further (and if you can't tell already), the site is a spoof.

At first glance, it is obviously meant to be a satirical version of the National Security Agency's now-infamous PRISM program.

But when you think about it a little bit more, how far off the mark is it when compared to what most Internet users are already willingly doing with products produced by Google, Apple, and Facebook, among many, many others?

The Wall Street Journal recently published a helpful infographic demonstrating what Google alone knows about its users, designed in a genius fashion by using an outline of the human body reminiscent of the board game "Operation" considering the Internet giant probably knows everyone inside and out by now.

Technically speaking, that's all based on information that people are volunteering to share with Google when they make the decision to sign up for Gmail, buy Android devices, and download content from Google Play.

The NSA controversy has sparked a hot debate worldwide about how much privacy we are all still entitled to in the digital age, with more nuggets of information emerging each day fueling the media firestorm to continue.

But how much of that is just hype? What might be getting overlooked is that many people are not all that surprised -- let alone upset -- about the NSA's surveillance programs.

A poll published by The Washington Post just after the initial news about PRISM broke in early June found that approximately 62 percent of Americans were said to be fine with allowing "the federal government to investigate possible terrorist threats, even if that intrudes on personal privacy."

Such attitudes -- if not complete disregard whatsoever -- are likely to continue given that most younger Internet users already share everything and then some via social media.

None of this is to say that the debate over the NSA's surveillance activities shouldn't continue, nor should we stop reporting about and questioning how the data is used (let alone obtained).

But the PRSM "sharing network" does do a good job of being thought-provoking and begging users to further reflect on their actions and choices online.

Screenshot via PRSM

Topics: Privacy, Data Management, Mobility, Security, Social Enterprise

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  • Voluntarily sharing involuntary

    Saying that it's OK for the government to track and monitor people because they've voluntarily allowed corporations to do so is like saying that a woman who has worked as a lingerie model shouldn't complain about a peeping Tom looking through her window. Those who are fine with government doing this to "protect us" should consider what may happen if religious fundamentalists who would love to re-criminalize certain private interactions between consenting adults should ever get their hands on this kind of power.
    • A very good point!

      The analogy between a lingerie model (or striptease dancer, or for that matter a "more intimate" service provider) being peeped at (or being forced into you know what; have to watch out for the censor here) and a web user being spied upon, even though that user has shared private information with social networks already, is a good moral and legal point.

      Practically speaking, however, once a particular ITEM of private information has been shared, there is no way to STOP it from being picked up by police, NSA or other government agency, or criminal organizations, through ANY of the third parties who have access to it.

      So, although it may be illegal and immoral, once your "X" number is on Facebook or Twitter, for example, it is too late to keep it out of the hands of unfriendly entities. The best we can hope for is to have STRICT oversight by Congress (if we can elect a Congress with the spine to do it) to protect us from the USE of that information (i.e. inadmissible in court, forbidden to use as basis for arrest, etc.).

      Although public opinion is changing, there is still a predominant belief that invading our privacy is the ONLY way to catch terrorists, and a political leader who opposes that means of protecting us is more likely to lose the next election if an attack DOES happen, than he/she would be voted out BECAUSE of his/her invasion of our privacy. Watch the opinion polls; it may take a few more years before VOTERS (other than tech savvy people like us) are more pro-privacy than pro-security. And with the information that the NSA and other agencies already have about the politicians THEMSELVES, there may not be any way to get the votes to limit their activities (just as J. Edgar Hoover had so much dirt on everybody in Washington that it was impossible for anyone but God to fire him).
      • Congressional oversight?

        "...strict oversight by Congress" requires Congressional representatives who have no fear of exposure. NSA has accidentally (No, really, they said it was an accident!) monitored thousands of lines in the 202 area code (Washington, D.C.), due to a typo, of course.
        Many of our representatives are hard-working, upstanding people doing their jobs for us and going home to their families. But all it takes is a significant percentage of them wondering what dirt NSA has on them to ensure the votes always go the way NSA wants. NSA doesn't have to mention anything to anybody - just letting them wonder does the trick.
        It worked for J. Edgar Hoover, and it worked for the President Clinton, who borrowed about 1,000 dossiers on the people they had to work with on Washington, then lost the files. They magically appeared much later sitting out in the open in the White House. That one paid off handsomely for Bill and Hillary.
  • Real Difference

    Yes Google knows a lot of information from users who voluntarily used their services as well as Facebook or anyone else who says they collect user information. The key word is voluntary; the user has a choice whether to use the services or not.

    Also, the quality sites have a posted privacy policy stating what they collect and how they use it. If users do not like the terms they can leave the site.

    Government spying by definition is involuntary and there is no published privacy policy about data usage. These two facts make any government spying problematic at best and at worst nothing more than a police state. The NSA activities that are known document the existence of a police state where all one's electronic communications are monitored. It would be fairly easy to use innocent searches, say on chemical weapons, to "prove" a person is a terrorist by taking the searches out of context.
    • Hey

      When people casually toss out 'police state' it shows they have little idea of what it means to experience repression or actually live in a threatening polity. Too much heated rhetoric ruins an otherwise decent argument. For years people have installed software without reading the TOS granted, then they have clicked on links with little thought as to their origin or direction, and now they are sharing everything from birth videos, every damn waking moment until death ... I would think it is more likely that the watchers are suffering from a sensory overload of banality. Taking things out of context is what both parties try to do in a trial, at least there are protections for accused parties in American courts. Perhaps not if you are black, young and male ... but nothing is perfect eh?
  • So we shouldn't store our private information anywhere?

    Somewhere it's a real shame that we've come to a world where huge companies with almost unlimited resources and enthusiastic coders and tinkerers trying to make the daily life easier for people, can't be trusted because of the business model of the company and affiliation with the government.

    In fact I think it's rather stupid to think that the biggest threat in this all is -our governments-, the instance that you'd expect to be trusting the most, but instead of having to fear the 'terrorists and pedophiles' they supposedly hunt, we have to fear our own 'protectors' because they think WE ALL are the terrorists, and are thus rightfully spied upon.

    Google COULD make their services in such way that your information can only be decrypted and used and viewed by the users, allowing it to become the truly convenient all-round service it tries to be without the huge privacy concerns involved. But since we aren't paying for those convenient services, and since the governments dictate their data to be insightful and handed over at will, that's something we won't be seeing for a while.

    I think it's really sad, that in these times of technological thriving and worldwide lightspeed information exchanging, we are rightfully scared of truly using its potential because of some backwards politicians and business men that want to use it for the wrong purposes.
    And that we're forced to keep using our papers and pens and physical file folders because the virtual ones are almost definitely being shared with the people you don't want them shared with.

    And then we look strange at the people that say "But I have nothing to hide", being forced into apathy as they have truly no idea how to take on those governments, and would rather just live on their daily lives, not thinking about big brother panting in their necks.

    It's a shame that once again humanity proves it can't handle big power and big responsibility. Yes, I think it will be quite a while before the battle for the internet has settled to a point it's safe to just use online services to store this kind of data, but that doesn't mean it isn't potentially a convenient service; Just that right now it's a wolf in sheep's clothes.
    • Why exactly are we "expected" to trust government.

      "Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master."
      -- George Washington

      If our first president (the one that actually fought for our independence) didn't trust government. What makes you believe the people of the USA should be trusting it?
      • Because you live in the country they govern

        You already trust them with making the right decisions in governing the country you live in. I'm not, at all, saying that we should trust them with EVERYTHING, especially considering what kind of a datamongers they've become. But they should be trustworthy in the places it matters, with making the right choices for what needs money and what doesn't, for where roads ought to be build and where they aren't.

        I do not, under any circumstance, trust them with my personal/private life, and I think it's disgusting that they're just grabbing it without any consent, not just from their own citizens, but citizens worldwide. I'm from The Netherlands, and this concerns me as much as any american or other citizen in a country which government abuses technology, because our government does exactly the same wrong things, on top of what the U.S government is doing outside of their own territory.

        I fully agree with you and Washington there, governments aren't reason, and they ought to stay the fuck out of the places they aren't supposed to be.
      • Excellent quote

        I'm sure the rest of our Founding Fathers would agree.
  • You didn't ask me

    Don't generalize. 'We' do not share everything with the net.
  • Satirical Benefit

    The one "advantage" of the government invading our privacy is that backing up our data is no longer necessary. If your computer crashes, just email the NSA or CIA and ask for a reload of your computer's personal files. You may get back documents and emails you had actually deleted, and had forgotten, so you can have a nostalgic trip back in time while you repeat your past purge activities!