Earlier this week, some readers sent in the utterly ridiculous article from the Guardian in the UK working out all sorts of laughable conspiracy theories behind Facebook
. It seemed rather strange that a publication like the Guardian would publish such a shoddy column. It bizarrely suggests that libertarians and neoconservatives are the same thing, when they're practically opposites on the political spectrum. Then it tries to link Facebook to the CIA via one of the more tenuous links out there. The idea that the CIA ran Facebook got some buzz on conspiracy sites a year or so ago, but to see it in a respected publication is really surprising. The connection discussed (the same one from the conspiracy sites) isn't just weak, it's wrong.
It tries to connect In-Q-Tel, the well-known venture capital arm of the CIA to Facebook. There are just a few problems with this. First, In-Q-Tel is run quite separately from the CIA. It is true that the CIA provides the money and In-Q-Tel looks for investments that in some way could help the CIA (though, often that's a very loose connection), but it's not like it's a bunch of spies running around and investing. It's basically a separate organization, run by experienced industry folks, not CIA agents. Then, the article claims that In-Q-Tel was formed in response to the events of 9/11, even though In-Q-Tel was formed in 1999 (which is noted in the article). It's difficult to see how it could have been formed in '99 as a result of an event two years in the future (I see now that the Guardian has issued a correction on that point). The fact is that 9/11 had no bearing on the creation of In-Q-Tel. Even more to the point: In-Q-Tel has no investment in Facebook. The actual connection is that some of Facebook's investors sat on the board of the National Venture Capital Association, with Gilman Louie, who originally ran In-Q-Tel (which he came to from a toy company, not from being a spy). That's like saying Warren Buffet really controls Microsoft, because he plays bridge with Bill Gates every once in a while. Just because the two are on the same board of a well-known group for venture capitalists, doesn't mean there's even the slightest connection between Facebook and the CIA.
And it's not just Facebook that's apparently got scary CIA connections. A video making its way around Digg
is claiming "The Shocking Truth Behind Google's Ideology."
It's not entirely clear what the origin of the video is, but the supervisor credited at the end is a professor
in Germany. The video has scary music and frightening language. "The former students' project now rules
the World Wide Web." And "the so-called PageRank." Oooh, scary. It also refers in ominous tones to "The Google Master Plan" which is a well-known (well, at least to some folks) joke
It also throws in something about how Google wants to control
all the world's information, rather than just organize it, which is a misleading addition to Google's actual mission
. It tosses in some nice scare-mongering about how Google is doing this "all for free." It incorrectly states (with a very ominous image) that Google "stores the entire known web." Google does cache a portion of the public web, but that's quite different. Then it brings up the old claim about Google "scanning all your emails," implying that it's not just matching context for ads, but building a database of info about you based on your emails -- which is simply not true. It also falsely implies that Google is conducting research into genetics. It is true that Google invested in Sergey Brin's wife's company, which does genetics-related research, but that's not the same as saying that Google is doing that research. The video also takes the wild leap to somehow claim that Google will somehow get access to everyone's genetic info. And, then, of course, there's the CIA connection. The video claims that Google is actually creating "dossiers" on everyone and "working undercover with the CIA," according to the claims of a "former CIA agent," which involves a report on a well-known conspiracy theory radio show without any proof, that Google took some money from the CIA and now does things for the CIA.
The video doesn't ever get around to revealing any "shocking truth." It merely makes a bunch of ominous sounding, but either incorrect, or at least questionable, statements, and piles them together to say that something bad must be going on. Between these two things, coming out at about the same time, is there just some bizarre desire by some folks in Europe to accuse successful American internet firms of having some dark connection to the CIA?