THINK OF a social network with a bad reputation for privacy. You're thinking about Facebook, aren't you? After all, that's where all the controversy started.
Well, brace yourself for a bit of a shock. It's been going on far longer. In fact, according to a report in Vice, there was major skullduggery going on at MySpace at the tail-end of its heyday.
Staff are said to have used a "God Mode" application called ‘Overlord' to snoop on private messages sent via the platform.
Overlord wasn't created for spying, but rather to allow MySpace staff to moderate the service, but it got abused regularly as a snooping tool.
It gives rise to the question, "Why the hell did it exist then?" but it was also an important part of compliance, allowing staff to provide requests from the FBI as part of investigations.
This isn't rumour or conjecture. Five former MySpacers told all on the guarantee of immunity.
"The tool was used to gain access to a boyfriend/girlfriend's login credentials," said one.
There's no question that this was wrong and MySpace had a zero-tolerance policy for abuse of Overlord, but that didn't stop it happening.
""There were strict access controls; there was training before you were allowed to use the tools; there was also managerial monitoring of how tools were being used; and there was a strict no-second-chance policy, that if you did violate any of the capabilities given to you, you were removed from not only your position but from the company completely," explains a MySpace security officer from the period.
But spy, people did and although the vast majority of us couldn't give a monkeys about MySpace in 2019 and despite the fact that MySpace has been sold on several times, losing loads of user data in the process, the current owners have confirmed that Overlord or something like it still exists, which "allows us to comply with law enforcement/court order subpoenas. It also enables us to protect our users from security and cyberbullying threats."
"Misuse of user data will result in termination of employment," it adds.
Was MySpace any worse than other platforms? Hell no, this was all long before our data was being traded willy-nilly. But if you've ever wondered how it all started, we've got a new Year Zero, right here. μ
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