I recently ran into a European counter-terrorism expert who complained that it was getting very difficult to build a fake profile on Facebook. Every time his team tried to set up a fake profile, it was shut down in less than 24 hours. Here's why he ran into problems.
- Facebook has an initiative to prevent the creation fake accounts (something Facebook strangely calls recidivism).
- This initiative is a small part of a larger overall effort being undertaken by Facebook, Google and others, to become what can best be described as fully functional global censorship and surveillance systems. I know that people have been concerned about this for a while, but it's not speculation anymore folks. It's here.
- The surprising thing to me? The US and nearly all of the governments of the world (outside of China and Russia) are pushing them to do it.
A global censorship and surveillance platform
Here are some of the aspects of these efforts:
- AIs that can identify violent imagery and extremist symbols in videos and pictures and rapidly delete them -- or better yet, block their upload or shut down a livestream as soon as they show up. For example: a live broadcast during a terrorist attack or murder (both happened).
- A growing legion of censorship and surveillance experts. For example: Facebook has ~7,500 (largely low paid subcontractors) reading posts and (private) messages to find and delete content they deem objectionable and ban the people who post it. However, these folks are just temporary employees. The real goal is to build...
- AIs that can read posts and messages to ID objectionable content to do what the human team (above) is already doing, but on a global scale.
What Happens Next?
This corporate censorship and surveillance platform will rapidly evolve and expand. The decline of the US, growing instability and mutual distrust will make this growth inevitable. How is it likely to evolve? Here are some of my preliminary thoughts:
- A complete social graph. A real-time census of every living person in the world (outside of China and Russia). One that knows all about you, whether or not you are on Facebook/Google/etc. These companies are already close to this goal in Europe and the US, and at 2 billion daily users (Facebook and Android), so it won't be long before they expand that to the rest of the world.
- AIs that can radically expand the ability of these platforms to influence and control the real world. For example, Facebook has the ability to ID by picture anyone in the 900 m people they have already profiled with their AI in less than five seconds. As that expands, it makes it possible to ID everyone in a visual field in real time by face, gate, height, weight, etc.
- AIs that manipulate (by blocking, blurring or burying fake or objectionable news) information flows across platforms to slowly shape public opinion. This can be done in a way that you won't even know you are being manipulated.
- they track where you are and who you meet, even if you don't have position sharing on. They know it by the places you talk about, the pictures you take, and the people you say you are with. Even if you don't share this information, other people online will.
- they are very likely to know what you look like and they are getting better at it with each passing day. Every uploaded picture from any of the billions of active users is a source of information. For example, Facebook has an AI that has over 900 million profiles in it. If you are already profiled (which is likely) it can ID you in any picture in less than five seconds.
PS: Facebook now has 2 billion active users. Google has 2 billion active users on Android and seven other services that have exceeded the 1 billion mark.