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Facebook Deemed "Most Appalling Spying Machine Ever Invented"

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Forget the iPhone Tracker. Never mind Google's reach. To WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the "most appalling spying machine ever invented" is still our good ol' privacy-invasive standby: Facebook.

In an interview with Russia Today, Assange took the not-so-bold stance of condemning the intrusive features and fuzzy privacy settings that we all know Facebook is built upon. However, he went so far as to say that all your wall posts and photo tagging is of great help to US federal agencies to spy on its citizens.

"Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, and their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence."

But Assange doesn't let other online outlets such as Google, Yahoo, and Apple off the hook. He claimed all are tailor made for federal investigation -- warranted or otherwise. It's as if, Assange asserted, that citizens are handing over their information to the government on a virtual silver platter.

"It's not a matter of serving a subpoena -- they have an interface they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use," he said. "Now, is the case that Facebook is actually run by U.S. intelligence? No, it's not like that. It's simply that U.S. intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure to them. And it's costly for them to hand out individual records, one by one, so they have automated the process."

Unfortunately, in 2011, our global culture is such that over-sharing has become the norm. Name, interests, photos, marital status, activities, our entire history -- available forever and stamped with a time and location, courtesy of a handy smartphone. It's understandably difficult to delineate what constitutes an invasion of privacy and just a routine Foursquare check-in.

But, as with everything, a clearly defined "opt-in" checkbox would be a great start.

(See also: Apple Surrenders to the "iPhone Tracker" Whiners and Google Faces $50 Million Fine for Android Tracking Data)
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