What came to light just hours ago– or days; I’ve been busy– is that Zuckerberg fears for his digital life and placed tape over his Mac’s camera and microphones because the world is full of hackers and thieves and evil digital criminals who can watch you and listen to you despite the foolproof security built in to every Mac (because fools are so ingenious).
Is it time to be afraid? Very afraid?
It’s The Little Things
Here’s the way this whole fear thing went down. Zuckerberg celebrated an impressive milestone on Instagram (owned by Facebook, if you didn’t know) which hit 500-million users. That’s half a billion. That’s impressive. Apple has only 1-billion iOS users, while Facebook has around 1.7-billion users.
Here’s the celebrated celebration photo Zuckerberg posted on Instagram.
The smile indicates that Zuckerberg is happy about Instagram’s milestone of half a billion users. He should be proud, right?
Why, then, is Zuckerberg really afraid?
OK, details. That’s Zuckerberg’s desk, that’s his chair, those are his books and documents scattered across the desk, and that’s his MacBook Pro sitting on the desk.
What do you see when the photo is zoomed into?
Zuckerberg is afraid of something.
First, his Mac has tape covering the iSight camera on top. Is he afraid someone might hack into his Mac and watch him type?
Second, his Mac has tape covering the microphone. Is Zuckerberg afraid someone might hack into his Mac and listen to him type?
Third, the email app on his Mac is not OS X’s Mail, it’s Mozilla’s Thunderbird (or, something else; hard to tell even when zoomed in and fuzzy, but it’s obvious he doesn’t have many apps in his Dock). Is Zuckerberg afraid that someone at Apple might hack into his Mac and read his email? That’s a job for Google, not Apple.
What you see in the photo is typical corporate paranoia in the technology industry. It’s why government agencies and some companies confiscate smartphones, watches, and tablets when visitors drop by.
You see, paranoia is the right attitude to have when everyone is out to get you. And you know everyone who can hack or spell hack and knows how to hack into a Mac and use the camera and microphone while he’s typing or clicking or talking to someone nearby– like a Facebook employee with an axe to grind– wants to know what Mark Zuckerberg is doing on his Mac.
That scenario brings up a few questions. If a Facebook executive can’t trust his own IT department to prevent hackers, can Facebook’s own security be anything worthwhile? Should we put tape over our iPhone or iPad’s FaceTime camera, too?
If you need to put tape over the built-in camera and microphone then why have a Mac, iPhone, or iPad in the first place. The only safe device these days is the Watch untethered to an iPhone. And turned off.