WikiLeaks' Assange: Facebook Is 'Appalling Spying Machine'

Thumbnail image for AssangeVF-Post.jpgJulian Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, is not done yet. The Australian whistleblower has already released thousands of government documents labeled top secret, but he's staying in the media spotlight by giving interviews and making veiled threats about what is yet to come. He gets attention for those interviews with bold statements, the latest of which clearly shows where he stands on the right of Internet users to remain anonymous.

In an "exclusive" interview with RT (formerly Russia Today, a global television news network founded by the Russian government back in 2005), Assange said that the world's most popular social network is dangerous, an "appalling spying machine." Asked about his thoughts on the role that social media has played in shaping the recent revolutions in the Middle East, the WikiLeaks founder went in another direction. "Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented," he said. "Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo -- all these major U.S. organizations have built-in interfaces for U.S. intelligence. It's not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for U.S. intelligence to use."

He continued, still not answering the question: "Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by U.S. intelligence? No, it's not like that. It's simply that U.S. intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure on them. And it's costly for them to hand out records one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them."

Facebook has raised some eyebrows lately with privacy and security settings that aren't to everyone's liking. And its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has strongly argued against anonymity on the Web. (This argument led to a backlash from 4chan founder Christopher "moot" Poole, who believes that anonymity provides cover so that individuals can reveal themselves in a "completely unvarnished, unfiltered, raw way.") But is he building a giant spying machine?

The full interview with RT is available online.