Maybe a rather ⑃╨╰╨╭╣⑉ looking post on Facebook brought you here. If you want to read the actual content (and generate similar posts yourself), download this Chrome Extension. If you are curious beyond that, read on!

Facebook can have influence on major aspects of our lives. For the most part, this power comes from two things: the knowledge they aggregate about us and our likings and their ability to curate the information we are exposed to. The basis for both of these is our frequent interaction with the site, our consumption of its content.

All that allows Facebook to specifically reinforce our opinions (exposing us to consensual content of other users), change them (through opposing content in our feed) or influence our emotions (sad feed, happy feed). They even experiment with this power (source below). Why would they do that? Possible use cases are money-oriented (influencing the stuff we desire to buy) or political (influencing political actions we take - think presidential election).

Opinions Are My Own is a browser extension for Chrome. The idea was to find a way of expressing ourselves on Facebook so that other users can read it, but Facebook's algorithms cannot.

Download the Chrome Extension here.

The plugin has two functions.
[1] Scramble a text so that an algorithm that parses large quantities of data will not make sense of it.
[2] Detect text that has been scrambled in such a way on your page and translate it back into actual words.

The ideal scenario:
- you scramble what you post
- you see the actual content of all posts and comments
- Facebook's algorithm only sees your scrambled version.

The reality:
The hope is for the "encryption algorithm" (my version is far from sophisticated and based on various rules scrambling char codes) to be good enough to trick a "dumb" algorithm that processes huge amounts of data, looking for keywords and references based on which inferences can be made. I believe this project can succeed in achieving that at least on a small scale. However, I am very aware and so should be you, there is obviously no guarantee and, of course, if Facebook wanted do, they could look at the extension's source code to reveal the actual content and going on doing their business as usual - before it comes to this, however, let's work out new ways of obfuscation and circumvention!

Links, related work and sources
- This project on github
- The Trust Engineers - RadioLab
- How Facebook Could Skew an Election - The Atlantic
- Your Facebook Friend Said Something Racist. Now What? - Note To Self
- I am pretty sure I once heard of a plugin that uses a similar technique, but in the moment of registering for Facebook. It would fill out the form (name, email and whatever they ask for) with fake data, and then inject your real data for those who have the same plugin. Pretty nice idea, but I can't find it anymore, any hints?

Download the Chrome Extension here.

Thanks to my teachers

Kyle McDonald and Lauren McCarthy.