Yesterday, on the auspicious occasion of National Selfie Day, Instagram revealed that they had surpassed 500 million active monthly users.
To celebrate, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg (who also owns Instagram) posed for a photo at his desk using one of those aggressively basic Instagram photo frames, the likes of which are usually reserved for hackneyed engagement party group photos.
But it was a small detail outside of said frame that has captured the collective attention of ‘the Internet’ and, evidently, you.
3 things about this photo of Zuck:
Camera covered with tape
Mic jack covered with tape
Email client is Thunderbird pic.twitter.com/vdQlF7RjQt
— Chris Olson (@topherolson) June 21, 2016
Eagle-eyed Twitter user Chris Olson was quick to point out that Zuck has covered both his webcam and microphone jack with tape – a utilitarian digital security measure that seems rudimentary but is really a no-brainer for someone of his status.
The reason for doing so has more than a little in common with Facebook itself, the global network who enjoys free, nearly unmediated access to the personal and professional lives of approximately 1.5 billion people every day. Zuckerberg employs the DIY method to protect against unwanted surveillance that can be carried out through the use of remote access malware of the kind deployed through corrupt links or attachments – the kind favoured by both cybercriminals, extortionists and government bodies alike (just ask Edward Snowden, who revealed the NSA used malware plug-ins to record conversations and take photos).
In light of a recent spate of high profile hacks – Zuckerberg’s Twitter was targeted, as was Kylie Jenner; nobody is safe, essentially – it’s common sense to literally cover your bases, especially when you’re considered one of the world’s most powerful, wealthy and influential entrepreneurs (or the founder of Facebook). So while you and I face a considerably lessened likelihood of being covertly spied upon, the fact remains that webcam hacking is a very real and present threat. And what harm can come from deploying a little tape from time-to-time?
Still unconvinced? In April this year, FBI Director James Comey gave a speech about encryption and privacy, in which he revealed that he too puts tape over his webcam lens.
“I saw something in the news, so I copied it. I put a piece of tape — I have obviously a laptop, personal laptop — I put a piece of tape over the camera,” Comey told a Q&A session at Kenyon College in Ohio. Why?
“Because I saw somebody smarter than I am had a piece of tape over their camera.”
And you simply can’t argue with that.
Cover image: Colombia Pictures