Tag Archives: facebook privacy

OpSec, Prepper Stigma, Privacy, Face Recognition, & Facebook

26 Aug

Let me begin by saying I don’t like the term “opsec” which stands for operational security. That’s the sort of term you’d probably never want to drop on a neighbor. It’s like calling your place in the country a “retreat.” If you clarify that it’s a vacation retreat, that’s great. But don’t use the term “bunker” or, God forbid, “The Compound.”

It’s your country place. Your cabin in the woods. The place you go when you just want to get away from it all (not mentioning that “it all” includes mutant zombies). You’re not hardening your house’s security, you’re renovating. Your concrete pillbox is shooting for that WWII retro look. It’s an aesthetic-artistic thing.

Many preppers feel opsec is about protecting your stash of supplies from desperate neighbors during a long-term WROL. I don’t worry too much about that. Maybe, it’s because, unlike many preppers, I don’t stockpile several years’ worth of food. If hungry neighbors showed up at my door during a true disaster and I had the resources, I’d help them. I have just enough weapons to make trying to take them away from me a miserable experience for a gang.

I want to address an aspect of opsec that doesn’t get as much attention in the prepper community: Protecting your job. Only a few years ago, I would have said the term “prepper” didn’t have any stigma attached to it. But, I fear that’s changing.

Shows like “Doomsday Preppers” portray preppers as more radical than most of us are. Other social or political elements want to co-opt the term “prepper.” That can lead to preppers being classified inappropriately, in ways that aren’t reflective of who we are.

If the word “prepper” takes a lexical turn for the worse in the future, it might be a label you want to avoid. If your Facebook page shows you holding a gun saying, “I’m a prepper!” that’s a label that could follow you through your lifetime. It probably will be harmless, but in some areas, it could conceivably cost you a job.

If you’re applying for the head maintenance position at a small school and the person evaluating your application sees the picture, he might worry you’re a nut who’ll shoot up the school. Even if he thinks you’re fully sane, he might worry that hiring you could cast him in a bad light. What were you thinking hiring this guy? In today’s tight job market, something as simple as a Facebook photo can be the difference between getting a job or being rejected. First rule of survival in the modern world: Don’t lose your job.

In my time, people might have a bad day at work and come home and vent about their boss who was a jerk that day. Some might even write in a diary. Youngsters today go to Facebook and post online. They share their feelings with their friends and the world. Some then get fired.

As a rule, the students you teach aren’t “germ bags.”  You don’t “like” your boss’s political opponent.  Don’t call your job “boring“, and accept your crummy tip and shut up.

I understand people want to assert their freedom of speech and express their opinions, but being able to pay your bills is nice too.

There’s a saying that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Just smile and nod. Even smiling and nodding can get you into trouble today.

Facebook purchased Face.com, a facial recognition software company. Facebook is creating the largest face database in the world. Originally the plan was to make an interface for all software developers, but that plan got axed. There were too many creepy possibilities.

Stalkers could take an iphone picture of somebody and instantly know all about them. It could be a nuisance for attractive women. This should give those considering a career in undercover security/police work pause. Do you want your photos on the Internet?

If a somebody snaps a picture of you sitting with two police officer buddies, that photo could compromise your opsec. Most surveillance cameras today don’t have the resolution to identify a face, but that will change in the future.

Face photo searches could turn up every photo you’ve ever been in and could identify the other people in the photo. If you live or work in an urban or suburban environment, you’re being photographed regularly by security cameras. Most of that video footage is destroyed and recycled, but what happens when advertisers start offering businesses money for the video?

I agree with Demcad: “In my opinion, Facebook is just a hub to sell customer information to corporations.” One company (Face Deals) is using cameras at stores to capture photos of customers as they enter. That information allows the store to know what special offers and deals might appeal to the person. As one commentator posted, the problem with “opting out” of such a program is that the camera is still snapping your photo and storing it in a database. You’re only opting out of being given special deals, not being photographed and tracked.

There are some upsides to all this face tracking. Lost children at amusement parks might be quickly found. Dangerous felons can be identified and taken off the streets. If nothing else, face recognition is in its infancy and there are some amusing face recognition fails to give us a good laugh. (my favorite: The Pumpkin)

Here’s a nice article about protecting your privacy on Facebook. Don’t post your place of birth or age. Computer scientists at one university successfully predicted many people’s Social Security numbers from public information. The same people are now linking pictures to SSNs (not for any malicious purpose, but just to show they can).

One writer speculated Facebook’s ultimate goal is to become the “driver’s license of the Internet.” To use your cell phone or computer, you’d need to log on with a face-recognizing video camera.


Face recognition reality is only one aspect of how privacy is changing in the modern world. The FDA was caught spying on employee’s e-mail.

The end of privacy.  An interesting editorial talking about license plate tracking.

Google Android devices  like to know where you are.

The new totalitarianism of surveillance technology

While we’re talking about faces, here’s an interesting 60 Minutes special (on youtube) about people who can’t remember faces. There are super-recognizers who remember every face they ever see.

On other topics:

Forrest fires continue to be a problem throughout parts of the country. Idaho just had its worst forest fire season on record.

‘Preppers’: Ready For Anything (A Buffalo News article about preppers)

Gerber is recalling Bear Grylls Parang Machetes because they might be a laceration hazard. They’re included in Gerber’s Apocalypse Survival Kit. I walked by a TV the other day and thought I saw Bear Grylls selling deodorant.