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Slashdot’s running an article which mentions the possibility that Facebook is sharing your information with the CIA. Naturally, the neurotic crowd on Slashdot is outraged by the very possibility that this could be happening.

Now, I’m all for privacy. I don’t think the CIA (or NSA, technically) should be listening to our calls or reading our e-mails; in more general terms, spying shouldn’t be done without a warrant or exceptional probable cause (as in, if you’re spying on someone without a warrant, 19 times out of 20 it should yield a guilty result). But seriously, why is the fact that the CIA might get information from Facebook a big deal, or even surprising? Every time there’s a possibility of information being shared, people act like they were forced to join Facebook and update their profile. (Remember the news feed controversy from a couple years ago?)

I’ll just say right now that if I ran Facebook, I’d willingly give all information to the CIA. I wouldn’t hide it, I’d come right out and say “watch what you type, you’re being monitored.” Maybe people would watch what they post. People act as if their information that they post publicly on the Internet for people to see is safe as it is. It’s a bad analogy, but just as the only sure way to avoid pregnancy and STDs is abstinence, the only way to achieve complete privacy on the Internet is to not post the information.

I also wonder how much the CIA is even interested in Facebook. Does Osama bin Laden have a Facebook profile? Are they checking his status every day to make sure it doesn’t say “Osama is currently executing Operation: Bomb Stuff…lol!”? Or maybe “Mahmoud is testing Iran’s nuclear missile system on Pakistani soil! Come and get me!” No one posts stuff like that (and if they do, citizens had better be alerting people).

All in all: conspiracy theorists need to get a life and consider the value of information that might be at risk. And everyone else: watch what you post. It can protect you from the gossip queens at school, the sexual predators in your neighborhood, and the CIA. (That would make a great Carnac script…)

An open letter

To President-elect Barack Obama:

First, I believe congratulations are in order. You have achieved what no man of color has ever achieved. Such a success is indicative of both your hard work campaigning and the American people for finally allowing democracy to transcend race. From the bottom of my heart, congratulations.

As you may know, I am not a proponent of many of your policies. I believe the war in Iraq needs to be won. I believe the economy is stimulated by tax refunds and capital gains, not punishing some people for making more than others. I believe abortion is wrong, and that Roe v. Wade gives the federal government too much power.

But here’s the thing: I’m not afraid to be proven wrong.

As John McCain said in his concession speech this evening, the time for divisiveness is behind us. Like him, I’m willing to admit my mistakes if it turns out that I’m wrong, because this country is bigger than me and you. I truly hope that your policies are exactly what this country needs.

And in four years, if I was wrong and you were right, and the country is in better shape and improved over where it is today, then I will admit my mistake and happily cast my reelection vote for you.

I hope you’ll share my attitude of hope, positivity and willingness to compromise. Please work with Republicans as well as Democrats, because the best thing about this country is its ability for everyone to have a fair shot. Don’t abuse the tremendous amount of power that’s been given to you, with a majority in both the House and Senate; use it to change what needs changing, but don’t break what isn’t fixed. Remember your loyalties lie with the people who elected you, not your party.

Please stop blaming your problems on the Bush administration. You fought for the White House because you wanted to fix what was wrong; don’t complain about how hard your job is. I’m sure there’s at least one other guy who wanted that job as much as you.

I’m confident that with cooperation from both sides, our country can be a better place in four years. Once again, congratulations, good luck, and godspeed!

Jimmy Sawczuk
A hopeful, optimistic citizen

Election night

So for those of you living under a rock, tonight is election night. Almost two years of campaigning and literally billions of dollars has all led up to tonight, where we will choose a new President. A couple thoughts:

  • It’s amazing how patriotic people can suddenly be on election day. On Facebook today, at least 20 friends had “donated their statuses” (yeah, I was impressed too. I wish I had that kind of status that I could just donate it so freely.) to either Obama or McCain. I wonder how many people made their decision based on the Facebook poll – probably depressingly too many.
  • It’s always interesting to watch the technology evolve over the years. Think about it: four years ago, most TVs were not high-def, most computers were not hooked up to broadband Internet, and most people didn’t really need constant updates via text message to their cellphone.
  • CNN brags that their political team is the best political team on television. Most of them are morons.

And in other news…

  • In an unprecedented common sense move, the Browns are starting Brady Quinn, even though ESPN’s Trent Dilfer doesn’t like the idea. Seriously, if Trent Dilfer knew anything about quarterbacking, he might still be playing for the Browns. I like the move – Anderson, while not completely at fault for Sunday’s epic collapse, definitely made some major mistakes.

I hope everyone voted today. Our veterans and forefathers have made sure you’re not obligated to vote, but at the same time have fought for your right to vote. The very process that takes place today (in this year’s case, choosing the lesser of two evils) is the essence of democracy – it separates us from every other nation on earth.