How we ruin social networks, Facebook specifically | Ars Technica

“The advent of the Internet has changed the traditional conditions of identity production,” reads a study from 2008 on how people presented themselves on Facebook. People had been curating their presences online for a long time before Facebook, but the fact that Facebook required real names and, for a long time after its inception, association with an educational institution made researchers wonder if it would make people hew a little closer to reality.

As the study concluded, “identity is not an individual characteristic; it is not an expression of something innate in a person, it is rather a social product, the outcome of a given social environment and hence performed differently in varying contexts.” Because Facebook was so susceptible to this “performance,” so easily controlled and curated, it quickly became less about real people and more about highlight reels.

We came to Facebook to see other real people, but everyone, even casual users, saw it could be gamed for personal benefit. Inflicting our groomed identities on each other soon became its own problem.

via How we ruin social networks, Facebook specifically | Ars Technica.

Spy games: behind Russia’s massive Olympic surveillance program | The Verge

Amid heightened security concerns and terrorist threats, Russian security forces have constructed a powerful surveillance system designed to monitor the movements and communications of virtually everyone on the ground at Sochi. The aim is to deter attacks and unrest through blanket monitoring, though there are fears that the Kremlin is going too far.

“The Russian secret services are just obsessed by the idea of … total control,” says Irina Borogan, an investigative journalist for Moscow-based watchdog Last year, Borogan and Agentura editor-in-chief Andrei Soldatov published a series of reports on the surveillance programs that Russia is implementing for the Winter Olympics, which run from February 7th through the 23rd.

Their investigation shed light on a security system of remarkable breadth — one capable of gathering not only metadata, but actual phone conversations and internet activity. In an interview with The Guardian, one security expert described the program as “PRISM on steroids,” referring to the controversial data-gathering system used by the US National Security Agency NSA.

via Spy games: behind Russia’s massive Olympic surveillance program | The Verge.