More and more, the so-called social media remind me of a children’s book I read to my son many years ago: There’s an Awful Lot of Weirdos in Our Neighborhood. Weirdos aren’t necessarily bad — some of my friends are weird — but too many online weirdos are malicious snoops who work for politicians, government agencies, or corporations.
Just ask Emma Sullivan, the teenager who got in trouble for tweeting about Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Or ask Julian Assange, the journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, the website that released a ton of U.S. government diplomatic and military documents that the U.S. government was hiding from the American people.
Addressing a group of journalists via videolink yesterday, Assange said the “big battle” for WikiLeaks and its sympathizers around the world will be against forces that have turned the Internet into Big Brother’s favorite monitoring tool:
…The Internet [has] become “the most significant surveillance machine that we have ever seen,” Assange said in reference to the amount of information people give about themselves online.
“It’s not an age of transparency at all … the amount of secret information is more than ever before,” he said, adding that information flows in but is not flowing out of governments and other powerful organisations…
Assange, 40, is under house arrest in England pending the outcome of a Swedish extradition request over claims of rape and sexual assault made by two women. He says he is the victim of a smear campaign.
He’s also being sought by the U.S. government, of course, in regard to his involvement with WikiLeaks.
Think about the stakes involved in what Assange is saying and doing the next time you get e-mail from someone who shouldn’t know your business but does. Or the next time you send a message on Facebook, a virtual neighborhood where the authorities might know more about you than your next of kin.