Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

August 26, 2010

One Nation, Under Surveillance

In the immortal words of the Boomtown Rats: "Someone's looking at you".

Cameras, cameras everywhere. Security cameras in stores, red light cameras in intersections, lurkers on blogs, Facebook's ongoing privacy issues. It never stops. It's getting to the point where I can't even deal with a wedgie situation in the supermarket because of all the 'eyes in the sky'. I really don't want strangers watching me tug my underbritches out of my ass crack, especially when I frequent the same stores in town. I don't want to be branded "the shopper with the creeping underwear issues" by unseen employees. Security cameras do have their use of course, catching people doing things they shouldn't be doing (like the bitch who dumped a cat in the trash bin in England). But thanks to the misnamed "Patriot Act", we are flirting dangerously close to George Orwell's "1984".

A few weeks ago, we got a red light ticket in the mail, along with high resolution and closeup photos of the back of Brian's truck. He had no memory of going through the light, but it was clearly his truck. You could read the bumperstickers. Some towns in Washington and Oregon are rebelling, and people aren't paying the tickets. There are a few lawsuits out there on the constitutionality of these red light cameras. They are a cash-cow for revenue-starved cities and towns, but it's been shown that the traffic lights have been reprogrammed to cycle from yellow to red a lot faster than they used to, in order to catch people going through a yellow light. It was only $101 and doesn't go on his driving record, so I wasn't pissed about it. And lord knows that it's only through sheer luck that I haven't gotten one.....yet.....*knocks wood*.

Last fall, I did a ranting blog post about one of our more selfish clients. I went off on a tirade about this person. I shared what I thought were generalities of the case. Then I received a private email message from Ann, who calmly talked me down and implored me to delete my post, "just in case your client finds your blog, recognizes herself and has you fired." I hadn't thought about it that way, so I took her advice and deleted the post. (Ann - thanks for keeping me in line!).

Yesterday I was checking the firm email and there was an invite sent to my boss, from one of his colleagues, to join Facebook. Steve has no interest in Facebook so he told me to delete it. The thing that really unnerved me, was that embedded in the email was a list of 'people you might know on Facebook', and which displayed the profile pictures of several of our clients and some opposing counsel. That freaked me out. Somehow Facebook has managed to figure out a way to match the email addresses of the various people from whom we receive emails at work to the email addresses used on their Facebook profiles, and put them into the invitation that this one person sent. Although I figured that many people we know from work were on Facebook, it never really occurred to me that any of them would send invites to my boss. All the more reason to constantly check your privacy settings so that only your friends can see your statuses and posts.

When I first joined Facebook, I had a lot of questionable content on my page. I was accepting all the gift apps, no matter what they were. Brian did too. Over the course of the last 2 years, I have deleted almost all of it, except for the ones I really liked and which were not offensive to anyone. I also had to delete it all off Brian's page b/c I was afraid that prospective employers were looking at his profile and perhaps that was why he wasn't getting hired. "Hmmm, he seems to like guns and drugs and 60's music. He's a leftist atheist too. Pass".

Have you all heard how people are getting fired for content on their Facebook pages and blogs? It's unreal. There was a Portland Metro bus driver who was fired for ranting on his blog about an incident with a cyclist. He vented his spleen about what he wanted to do to the person should he ever see them again. Now, you and I both know that when we say, "OMG I am going to KILL him/her", we don't really mean that we are literally going to hunt the offender down and murder him/her. Unfortunately, companies are taking a zero-tolerance attitude towards threats, and fire the employee rather than face a lawsuit by whoever received the employee's wrath via Facebook or on a blog.

Although our Facebook pages are now locked down, I've been reluctant to make my blog 'invite only' or use those incredibly annoying Captcha boxes with the scrambled words (to those of you who have them, no offense, but it's a pain in the drain to have to keep typing those damn Captchas. I just want to leave a comment and move on to the next post). Yet I'm also afraid to go off on a tirade about work on my blog, just in case a client or opposing counsel has decided to see what's being said out there by employees of other law firms. I have no idea who lurks here, but doesn't comment.

For example, I got today off to a really bad start at work. I'm fucking swamped AND pissed. But I don't feel comfortable going off on a tangent about it. I don't know who will read it. All I can do is sit here and quietly fume about it.

I hate feeling like I'm always being watched. Now I'm afraid to say anything in my Facebook status if I've had a bad day. I don't feel like I can use my blog as a 'diary' of sorts, to vent about the good, bad & ugly of life in a small law firm. Although I would never, ever accept a friend request from a client, I don't like knowing that there's a possibility that they can see my page. The way Facebook keeps tinkering w/ the privacy settings, every now and then they default back to letting everyone in the world see all of your content. I found this out when one of Brian's FB friends (not one of mine) stole one of my photos to use as his profile picture. I was more than annoyed. I asked him if he realized that was MY photo and the guy said yes, he did, and he loved it so much he had to have it for his picture. But did he give me any credit for the photo? No. It was then that I went back to my photo settings and saw that they were now set to allow "Friends of Friends" to view them, when I had them set for "Friends Only". So this guy was able to access MY photo albums and stole my picture. Brian thought I should be flattered, and maybe I would have been flattered, if the guy had ASKED my permission, instead of just taking it.

Perhaps that's what 'they' want. Keep everyone good and scared about potential repercussions about what you say, and you control the masses. Unfortunately, the last thing I need is to be fired or have the Men in Black show up on my doorstep because of some innocuous comment on my FB page or the content of my blog.

So much for free speech.


  1. Averie12:51 PM

    Agreed and very well said Jo! So much for our rights to free speech. Those rights seem no good when you can get sued for venting or sharing your opinion. It's definitely creepy that it's so easy to find people on the Internet. I recommend having more than one email address.

  2. Anonymous2:47 PM

    I deleted my Facebook because they are too creepy with the connecting of this person and that person.

  3. You know, I've never had an urge to have a Facebook. I made an account once to be able to look at someone's page. I've never done anything else with it. No posting of information or building a profile. Nothing. Then as time went on, I found people sending me friend requests. It kind of freaked me out. When my newspaper made a Facebook account somehow they discovered my account and sent me a friend request. Sorry, I don't want to be friends with my employer.

    Facebook has always been creepy to me. I don't know why I don't mind having a blog but I don't want a facebook page. I think because it's way more personally invasive. Not many people have a Blogger account but almost everyone has a Facebook it seems.

  4. We are so beyond flirting with George's predictions it gives me shivers.

    The way everyone is being groomed to just accept more and more loss of privacy by upping their comfort level with giving up information is totally freaky and terrifying beyond words.


    Good post, and good luck.

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  6. Anonymous2:24 PM

    Apparently, the Brits are officially now the most spied upon Nation on Earth - that's not actually something to be proud of, or at least I don't think it is. We have speed cameras every 4 feet (it was blissful being in New York and not seeing one!),CCTV cameras sprouting in every town, there's an army of bureaucrats working out new ways to 'stamp' on personal freedom, because as far as the State is concerned, we're all potential terrorists and must be herded/recorded/registered...OK, that's me stepping down off my soapbox ;0)

    As for Facebook - no thanks! Never appealed and never will.

  7. That is why I use fake names and enter a fake address, babe.
    Unfortunately I need Facebook to promote my music (WHEN I have a life...LOL) and to communicate with people I help.

    But you are too right, babe!
    I am very tuned into who is watching. I have always been paranoid that way and I don't care. We should treat every venue and situation as a small threat and only say what we feel on private blogs, like mine.

    I only allow people that I trust with my life to read it.

  8. ... is even a desert island safe for wedgie or whatever picking????

    i confess i try not to vent in public because i'm a coward and it may come back to bite, but in some ways i admire people who do (jojo - your vent i was concerned about breach of confidentiality and if that was me i would have sued my solicitors)

    so what has happened to freedom of speech - it's all a lie - so much for civil liberties

    i don't really know how to navigate my way round fb - don't know how private mine is because like my blog, my fb also got compromised at the same time by the same person (fyi the ex)

    i don't tend to put what's on my mind (it's pretty empty really) but i do like to comment and see my grandbabies - what i would like to be able to do is not see all the farmville posts whenever i log on to the newsfeed - anyone got any ideas how to disable them??? please

  9. Yes I share your paranoia. I don't expect Facebook to be private and I don't put anything I wouldn't want the world to read on it. I don't link to my blog on Facebook and I don't put my blog.

    Even so, my blog is not nearly as anonymous as I would like.

  10. I really don't use my FB and I haven't checked any settings ever - don't know how, not sure I ever even set anything, but I suppose I must have done.

    Some of our speed cameras are going to be disabled because they are paid for by local authorities, who need to save money thanks to government cutbacks and targets, but they don't get the proceeds. I like to stick within the speed limit, and the cameras help me not to get beeped by others behind me who want to speed, but once they are gone, I expect I'll get a lot of hassle.

    A very tall CCTV camera in the street near me only looks at the traffic, so it missed a murder happening a short distance away a couple of years ago. Givew you confidence, doesn't it?

  11. Anonymous12:03 AM

    I deactivated my FB account about 6 months ago. For me a was a time issue. I would spend too much time reading other peoples status's of their mundane daily life. I don't mean to sound harsh here, it's just i don't need to know that you just bought a new vacuum cleaner and how it really sucks.
    The only thing I miss about it is the contact I had with some of my relatives, and for that I suppose there are other venues I could use.

  12. great fucking post!

    yeah, I post questionable shit on facebook. yeah it comes back to bite me sometimes too. whatcha gonna do, that bill of goods was sold a while back, and we're not gonna see those rights back anytime soon. I could go all hermit, but the heck with it.

    of course I'm not looking for a job either...

    as far as emails go, my wife was late to facebook, got a few invites maybe, but facebook KNEW people she has emailed with, or had business or personal connections to based on other people's e-mail addresses. that friend finder crap, that let us search your address book for contacts crap.

    the internet is bad. on the other hand, a facebook contact i've never met in real life posted a link to the's Rhythm Devils show from Friday, so the internet is good.

    read your sci fi, before its your history, orwell had a point, as did andy warhol - everybody gets their 15 min of fame... but at what price?

  13. Oh and here's a super scary thought: Right after I published this post, it was on the news that the police can attach a GPS to your car w/o a warrant. If you park on your driveway or on the street, they can sneak up, put it on there, and track your movements.