You wouldn’t peg Mark Zuckerberg, who once said “privacy is dead,” to be a spokesman for the safeguarding of information from omniscient monocular entities. But the NSA has a way of uniting unlikely allies in opposition to it. Yesterday, when The Intercept published details, leaked by Edward Snowden, of a secret NSA program that exploited Facebook to gain access to users’ computers, Zuckerberg penned a Facebook post expressing his anger. “I’ve been so confused and frustrated by the repeated reports of the behavior of the US government,” he wrote. “When our engineers work tirelessly to improve security, we imagine we’re protecting you against criminals, not our own government. The US government should be the champion for the internet, not a threat. They need to be much more transparent about what they’re doing, or otherwise people will believe the worst.” The irony!
Like anyone would do in this situation, Zuckerberg made an angry phone call. “I’ve called President Obama to express my frustration over the damage the government is creating for all of our future,” he wrote. “Unfortunately, it seems like it will take a very long time for true full reform.” That would’ve been an interesting conversation to have illicitly listened in on, eh?
The NSA program goes by the codename QUANTUMHAND. According to the leaked documents, here’s how the program works. It’s the kind of thing that makes you wish for a “dislike” button:
In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.
A Facebook spokesman told The Intercept that the company had “no evidence of this alleged activity,” which just means that it may still be happening, because really, who knows what our government is up to, at this point?