PALO ALTO, CA – The popular social networking site announced today controversial new plans for launching its own spy satellite into space early next year.
The project, which is being dubbed, “Spookbook”, purportedly utilizes top-secret reconnaissance technologies to track users via their cell phones or implanted subcutaneous microchips.
According to the press release, the new satellite will allow users to have their whereabouts monitored in real time 24/7. The information will then be used on Facebook’s planned interactive global grid feature, which is set to compete directly with Google Earth.
“We’re excited to finally be able to add this unique location app, so that friends can take ‘frictionless sharing’ to a whole new level”, CEO Mark Zuckerberg was quoted as saying.
Mapping features are already available through Bing Maps, which uses Facebook API’s to pull your information, but it doesn’t allow for real time monitoring and is limited to the city listed in the users profile.
The new Spookbook feature will be able to pinpoint the exact location, verifying the user's identity through facial recognition software, and will eventually include live photo and video. Facebook hopes to have several such satellites in low Earth orbit by 2015.
Privacy advocates are decrying the plans as another Orwellian step in the wrong direction. They point out that such technology must obviously include a partnership with various intelligence agencies, and that the potential for widespread abuse is inevitable.
“This is an invasion of privacy on a nightmarish scale”, said Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the watchdog group Electronic Privacy Information Center. “Facebook so far has a terrible track record when it comes to privacy issues, and the announcement of these new features, if true, only adds to the paranoia and mistrust”, he continued.
Advocates point out, however, that Facebook is completely voluntary and if people don’t want to have their lives monitored round the clock by anyone, including the NSA, then they shouldn’t use it. “It’s not Orwellian at all. It’s more like Brave New World”, they say.
The satellite is set to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in April 2012.