Metadata is harmless…

… or so the government sometimes says.

OTOH, when you have Big Data, with enough MetaData, it turns into Creepy Data.

No, a shrink having her patients friending each other *based on FaceBlock’s reccomendation* isn’t creepy at all. It’s all totally harmless, and could never be misused, right? (and people wonder why I don’t do Book of Faces)

I wonder if they could sue FB for violating HIPAA?


9 thoughts on “Metadata is harmless…

  1. They cannot. HIPAA only applies to health care providers and their business partners.

    • But the shrink in question might be vulnerable to a charge of malpractice.
      The way I look at the metadata question: if it weren’t useful, the government wouldn’t go through such constitutionally questionable lengths to collect it. And if it’s useful to the government, it obviously must be subject to the 5th amendment.

    • That is a major part of the billion-dollar question. Where, indeed? The article has speculation, but no hard information. But the fact that it’s clearly *possible* to collect and correlate a lot of different sources to make relationship maps like that should be creeping the hell out of anyone that understands history, or has any respect for civil rights or privacy.

      I know a lot of younger people are like “yeah, whatever.” I see it in the classroom all the time. They are too young, have been too sheltered, are too “safe” in their cocoon, to get it. But anyone that’s seen or been on the wrong side of such things should be scared.

      1984 should be a warning, not an instruction manual.

      • The article has the likely cause: Fb was able to connect the people to the therapist via her phone number when they exposed their contact lists to Fb. With her as the hub, the friend suggestions follow. IIRC, a textable phone number is one possible factor for authentication used in account recovery if you forget your password. Yeah, two factor auth is a good thing, in general, even if Fb isn’t.

          • No. There are people, most of them younger than us, who calculate the privacy/convenience trade-off differently. Fb asks, “Can we access your contacts to help you connect with your friends?” They say, “Yeah, sure, why not?” So I get a friend suggestion for a landscaper I’ve done business with because she said yes to when Fb asked. I get your general antipathy towards Fb, even though I dispute some of your specifics.

            Note: I have never said, “Yes.” So AFAIK, Fb hasn’t harvested your e-mail address from my address book.

  2. Rolf: This post will be used as evidence against you at your trial for felony Facebook evasion. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

    On the lighter side, you’re probably a ways down the list of doors that will be kicked in by the Fb Police. I have two friends who live in cycling distance of Fb HQ that aren’t on the network. They may not have bragged about their antisocial network tendencies online, but just by sheer proximity, their outlaw days are numbered. I’ll try and remember to give you a heads-up once the pogrom rounds them up.

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