I generally hate blog posts that are written about some dumbass tweet. It’s usually a sign that a news organization has nothing important to talk about since they are doing clickbait headlines around something someone said in 140 characters or less. But this tweet that I’m about to share with you is genuine news.
This tweet coming from a guy who works at a startup called Replicator, Chris Olson, who took a good close look at a post from Mark Zuckerberg, celebrating 500 million users of Facebook-owned Instagram, is truly a picture worth a 1000 words (that I won’t be typing in their entirety here). Well, just have a look:
3 things about this photo of Zuck:
Camera covered with tape
Mic jack covered with tape
Email client is Thunderbird pic.twitter.com/vdQlF7RjQt
— Chris Olson (@topherolson) June 21, 2016
See the very interesting things that Olson points out about Zuck’s laptop (and it is reasonable to assume based on other evidence that this is in fact Zuckerberg’s desk, and his laptop)?
Why yes, as Olson points out, Zuckerberg has tape over his Mac’s webcam AND over his headphone jack! It might even be reasonable to assume he has tape over his other ports on the device. It’s safe to assume that Zuck is concerned with–at least–corporate espionage, among other things I’m sure (perhaps even State-level threats)…but the conversation needs to be had now…are individuals crazy for covering up their webcams?
Years ago, I worked at a tech company, and I would often bring in my personal netbook, of which I did cover the webcam on it with tape. And just less than a decade ago, I can tell you anecdotally, that yes, people thought you were insane for covering your webcam, because they thought I was insane for doing so on my netbook. What could you possibly be worried about, they would ask. Well, now I turn the question on everyone else: What the fuck is Mark Zuckerberg worried about, and can he now be called insane, too (too say nothing of FBI directors covering up their webcams now, too)?! Likely, anyone else doing this sort of stuff would likely be labeled a terrorist. I mean, c’mon, what are you worried about if you have nothing to hide, right? #sarcasm
It is beyond ironic that the creator and owner of Facebook, the single largest privacy-destroying system on the planet, is covering his webcam. And I’m not even going to get into the reasons for covering his headphone jack. Man, somebody wants to make sure they’re secure!
SIDE NOTE: There is the offhand chance that everyone from Zuck to FBI directors covering up their webcams and informing other people to do it could be some kind of campaign to “protect” America from the Russian and Chinese governments (warnings about tech have been made before by politicians on that very subject), but even if that’s the case, let’s stop calling people paranoid or insane to be covering up webcams and various ports.
What’s also interesting is Zuck’s use of Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client. This is a popular email client amongst the tech-savvy, and particularly those that want to use PGP-encrypted emails (due to extensions like Enigmail for Thunderbird that makes setting up PGP a lot easier). But once again, it’s ironic that when you have all of these companies that want you to handle your communications “in the Cloud” and using webpage-based UI’s…what the Hell is Zuck doing using an independent offline solution like Thunderbird? Is HE using PGP perhaps for his communications? Does that mean that perhaps YOU should be using PGP for your emails, too?
In my opinion: Abso-fucking-lutely damnit.
SIDE NOTE: Yes, Facebook does support Tor, and even lets you upload your PGP key to your profile, WhatsApp uses a (questionable) implementation of the Signal protocol…all these nice things, right? As I’ve said before on my podcast, Sovryn Tech, however, having it all jammed in to Facebook is creating a honeypot, it’s not creating actual privacy. Using separate software like Thunderbird…that’s more like it. I mean, does Zuck have his PGP key on his Facebook profile? Nope. Don’t you find that odd?
I could go on and on about what this picture says, but the bottom-line is this: Tech companies are pushing a serious double standard on you. While they want you to be open and freewheeling with your information and privacy, they themselves are (now) obviously doubling-down on the opposite. Covered webcams, covered headphone jacks, (potentially) PGP-encrypted emails through non-Cloud-based email clients…hey, I’ll give it to ol’ Zuck, he’s doing it right. But then, why isn’t he telling you to do it right? The level of privacy he’s personally putting on display inadvertently sends the message: “Do not use Facebook. Do not use Instagram. Do not use Facebook Messenger“, and so on. It really does. Because if things are that bad to where you’re covering headphone jacks, then why the Hell would you risk sending personal information over wide-open platforms like social media?