Please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:


Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to

Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652

The massive data Facebook and Google collect on their users

Link here. The article is frightening, and illustrates once again why I have nothing to do with Facebook, and as little to do with Google as I can. (I wish someone would come up with a competitor to youtube. There’s money to be made there!)

What was especially disturbing was this tidbit about Google that the author discovered:

This is my Google Drive, which includes files I explicitly deleted including my résumé, my monthly budget, and all the code, files and websites I’ve ever made, and even my PGP private key, which I deleted, that I use to encrypt emails. [emphasis in original]

In other words, if you use Google to store any documents, no matter how private, they keep those documents even if you decide to delete them. Or to put it another way, Google steals them. Worse, the author also found that Google was keeping every email he’d ever sent or been sent to him, “including the ones [he] deleted or were categorised as spam.” [emphasis mine]

These corporations have compiled databases that can be misused very easily, and I expect someone in their company to do so, repeatedly. Worse, their users seem oblivious to the personal vulnerability that these databases create, and continue to nonchalantly use both Google and Facebook without thought.

I recognize that both companies provide services and need to make money by doing so. I just think they have overstepped the bounds of morality in how they compile and use the information they obtain.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit. And if you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


  • Diane Wilson

    If you aren’t buying the product, then you are the product.

    I do have much more respect for Microsoft and Apple in this regard; they sell their products, rather than subsidizing them by “monetizing” their customers. They respect and defend their customers’ privacy in ways that Facebook and Google can’t seem to understand their product. Excuse me, their “users.” Amazon seems to want it both ways.

  • wayne

    Jordan Peterson
    “12 rules for life,” the album
    “#3 Make Friends With People Who Want The Best For You”

  • Max

    (I wish someone would come up with a competitor to youtube. There’s money to be made there!)

    I was watching a test of a Russian ballistic missile and found this article at the bottom of this blog site.

    a test of the launch system of the Russian RS-28 Sarmat

    “The Utah Gun Exchange is a “Craigslist of the 2nd Amendment,” a place to sell guns & stuff, and YouTube cannot stand that, so the Utah Gun Exchange is getting kicked off YouTube. Consequently the UGE is creating their own video platform, (it’s not up and running yet).”

    Just a few blocks from my house, a few miles from the newest NSA world data collection site. (sponsored by Google). 8-}
    There is literally a rush to make the next youtube. “Dtube” is not quite ready but they plan on using chain block technology so videos can’t be erased. Vimeo has a large increase in traffic, porn hub is also branching off a non porn video site.
    I am new to the Internet and my computer is a smart phone. I’m sure somebody with experience can provide a lot more information.

    By the way, after the video plays at the above link, there is a variety of Russian made videos. I was amused by the CGI video game style Russian attack craft taking out American military using surprise attacks by drones near bases.

  • Laurie

    Microsoft and Apple upload your data to the cloud by default – anyone want to guess how well they respect the privacy of said data? No, each of these corporations (Google, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft – and others) are adversaries of the public good.

  • Laurie

    As for competitors, forget it. The insiders only let other unscrupulous … business figures in. I know I sound jaded, but I speak from some experience. It doesn’t matter if the product is good and profitable: you must stick to the script or you’ll get nowhere.

  • Edward

    Diane Wilson wrote: “If you aren’t buying the product, then you are the product.

    This is why I am not a big fan of the “free” stuff; the cost is too high. From the beginning, it was obvious to me that Gmail and other free email services would be privacy invasion sites. I do not go for retail membership/loyalty cards or order much online, as I consider them to be privacy invasion schemes as well. I pay cash when possible, and I keep my (dumb*) phone off most of the time. No one has a need to know any of the information that all these schemes collect on us, they only have a desire to know.

    Even the US census contains mostly questions that are merely desired by the government. The only thing that the government needs to know is the number of citizens living in each area for the purposes of assigning legislative representation (see Article 1 Section 2 Clause 3 of the Constitution, as affected by the Fourteenth Amendment); the rest is — at best — demographic curiosity. Bureaucratic voyeurism into our private lives. Apparently, the “Manner as they shall by Law direct” has come to be misinterpreted to mean that they can snoop into our private lives, rather than meaning taking the census by sending post cards in the mail vs. door to door polling.

    Even for the US Census Bureau, we are the product.

    * I got a dumb phone, because I didn’t want to be outsmarted by my own phone (as I frequently am by photocopy machines). I failed anyway.

Readers: the rules for commenting!


No registration is required. I welcome all opinions, even those that strongly criticize my commentary.


However, name-calling and obscenities will not be tolerated. First time offenders who are new to the site will be warned. Second time offenders or first time offenders who have been here awhile will be suspended for a week. After that, I will ban you. Period.


Note also that first time commenters as well as any comment with more than one link will be placed in moderation for my approval. Be patient, I will get to it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *