According to Slate's Future Tense section, when you write a status update on Facebook but then decide at the last minute not to make it public -- an action Facebook calls "self-censorship" -- while the post never appears on your timeline, it's not gone per se: it is actually kept by the social media giant and thoroughly studied and analyzed.
In their article, Das and Kramer claim to only send back information to Facebook that indicates whether you self-censored, not what you typed. The Facebook rep I spoke with agreed that the company isnt collecting the text of self-censored posts. But its certainly technologically possible, and its clear that Facebook is interested in the content of your self-censored posts. Das and Kramers article closes with the following: "we have arrived at a better understanding of how and where self-censorship manifests on social media; next, we will need to better understand what and why." This implies that Facebook wants to know what you are typing in order to understand it. The same code Facebook uses to check for self-censorship can tell the company what you typed, so the technology exists to collect that data it wants right now.
It is easy to connect this to all the recent news about NSA surveillance. On the surface, it's similar enough. An organization is collecting metadatathat is, everything but the content of a communicationand analyzing it to understand people's behavior. However, there are some important differences. While it may be uncomfortable that the NSA has access to our private communications, the agency is are monitoring things we have actually put online. Facebook, on the other hand, is analyzing thoughts that we have intentionally chosen not to share.
|U.S. Justice Department Engages in Airborne Man-in-the-Middle Attacks on U.S. Cellphones|
|iPhone 6, the First Smartphone to Disrupt NSA's Spying|
|"Advanced cameras and sensors will be installed to read license plates and test emerging facial recognition software."|
|Tech Giants Unite Asking for a Reform on Government Surveillance|
|How To Find a Terrorist Hidden in Millions of Gigabytes of Metadata|
|“Everyone is doing it.”|
|Future Horizon's Plasma Lightsabers|
|Japanese Robot Serves Ice Cream From Inside a Vending Machine|
|“Democracy is dying in the full light of day. Who will step in and lead when it matters?”|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|EM Drive Appears to Work in the Vacuum of Space|
|“Facebook is a data collection service for those who want to sell you products.” #deleteFacebook|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|When the Wrong Hastag Can Get You Killed by an Assassination Drone|
|“The U.S. is officially fighting wars in seven countries.”|