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06.01.10

Microsoft Has Your Facebook and Twitter Data, Tightens Relationship With Those Companies

Posted in Deception, Formats, Marketing, Microsoft at 5:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer as a bird

Summary: The access to data in high traffic sites such as Facebook and Twitter enables Microsoft to suppress opposition and inject its points of view, products, formats, etc.

MICROSOFT is an unpopular company. Its bad reputation is well deserved and earned. About a week ago, people complained in Twitter that Microsoft was harassing them even in their own houses. It was causing a lot of noise and there are other recent incidents we could cite (like trashing/polluting the streets with promotional “MSN” butterflies — a case in which the local authorities were also called to intervene).

Office drones around Soho’s Golden Square have complained to the council about the racket caused by Microsoft’s ongoing attempt to attract more users to Hotmail through the medium of dance.

Hotmail is dying, but that’s not today’s subject.

Back in the old days, controlling the press was easy because the number of channels/newspapers was limited and there was an editorial hierarchy for each publisher. Then came the Internet and blogs. Microsoft has realised that taking down other people's blog posts is something it can manage to do in order to guard a reputation, but keeping track of billions of short messages is nearly impossible. That would be microblogging. So Microsoft signed some deals with Twitter and Twitter’s CEO came over to Microsoft a couple of weeks ago. As part of Microsoft’s AstroTurfing efforts, its PR department had developed some tools with which to spy on people and observe trends in Twitter. That was a year ago. Microsoft uses Twitter for its AstroTurfing, as we demonstrated in some of the following posts:

Microsoft Nick says that Microsoft has gone further. It developed more tools for use in Twitter:

Microsoft announced the alpha preview of a social-networking initiative, Project Emporia, being developed through its FUSE Labs. The application gives users the ability to browse information on Twitter most relevant to their needs, and refine their experience through a “like/dislike” recommender system. Since its inception in October 2009, FUSE Labs has pursued the development of social connectivity, real-time experiences and rich media software and services.

Another area where Microsoft wants and needs to control minds would be Facebook.

“Facebook Obliterates Rivals in Google List of Top Sites,” says one headline from IDG and there are other signs that there is still “mindshare” in that site. To quote Microsoft on “mindshare”:

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Microsoft has already attempted to acquire Facebook. At the moment, Facebook and Microsoft seem to be allies and it’s possible that Microsoft will borrow more money and attempt to buy Facebook again.

Zuckerberg already helps Microsoft in many ways (giving them data, Office market share, spreading Silver Lie, etc.) and some days ago we found this new article:

Ballmer on Facebook privacy: Zuckerberg one of ‘good guys’

Google and Facebook are the ones grappling with high-profile security and privacy problems these days, but Microsoft has been there before, many times, and the issues were clearly on Steve Ballmer’s mind during a talk this past week on the company’s Redmond campus.

Of course Microsoft takes Facebook’s side. Microsoft too is in the business of profiling people [1, 2, 3]. Facebook has not really changed anything or even apologised since the controversy began. Microsoft supports Facebook’s position probably because it continues to receive copies of Facebook’s data (the more the merrier — the same data which made people furious). To quote an article from last week, with emphasis added: “CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook fixing privacy tools”

The latest flap came last month, when Facebook announced new features that send user profile information in bulk to companies such as Microsoft, Yelp and Pandora. That prompted four U.S. senators – led by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. – to demand Facebook pass along data only if users agree to it.

The original article had the title “Facebook simplifies its privacy controls” (but does not actually resolve the issue).

In the case of Twitter, there is a Bing deal that gives Microsoft the company’s whole data feed. These companies share their databases. See this recently-leaked Microsoft handbook to find out how it facilitates compliance with government requests for personal data (snoops).

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2 Comments

  1. twitter said,

    June 1, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Gravatar

    The power eavesdropping gives Microsoft is tremendous, even if you have nothing to do with Facebook or any other Microsoft service. If Microsoft is intersted in destroying a critic, they can spy on and modify the conversations about the critic. A person could be discredited by a thousand indirect pricks – introducing contradicting “facts” into the critics circle of friends and enemies. The facts can have nothing to do with Microsoft. More careful observation can be used to find willing tools to do most of the dirty work for the company without ever knowing they are a proxy. This kind of surveillance bankrupted the former Soviet Union and satellites like East Germany, but was nowhere near as effective. The fink system those tyrants used caused massive social disruption and distrust. Facebook and other “social” services are ideal means of manufacturing consent in the 21st century. It works in harmony with the old broadcast networks and they are mutually reinforcing. Compare this to crude legwork previously required, such as spies and prostitutes hired to discredit Ralph Nader, or the FBI’s attempts to blackmail and discredit Martin Luther King. Online spying and smears are cheaper, less disruptive, and harder to recognize and catch and much more effective for all of these reasons. It is fortunate that people are starting to realize that “Social Networking” is not such a great idea.

    Replacing Facebook is a FSF high priority project and anyone who enjoys their liberty and can code should join them. The elimination of Windows, it goes without saying, should be an equal concern. Software freedom is a prerequisite for privacy and the exercise of other fundamental freedoms like speech, and assembly. You don’t have freedom of speech if you can be tracked and punished for exercising it. You don’t have freedom of assembly on someone else’s private property. The benefits of social networking can be had with free software without trouble. This needs to be done before too many people consider Facebook irreplaceable.

    verofakto Reply:

    When you nymshift to your old identity back from being ‘your_friend’ (nymshifting with Dr. Roy’s blessing, despite the fact that when other people do it it’s a “crime”) aren’t you supposed to call them “M$”, to keep up appearances?

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