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Grand Lodges need to respond to potential new threat

April 1, 2018 Leave a comment

Most of you are probably aware that the social media world has been rocked by the news that Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and Google have been secretly recording our voices and using that information to sell to digital marketers who then buy advertising from those large online companies. Ever notice how you’re talking to your coworker about a particular product, and the next day you start seeing ads for that product on Facebook? It’s not a coincidence.

And have you ever thought about why Google gives away Gmail, or why Microsoft gives away Hotmail or Outlook mail? It’s to scan your emails and to sell advertising. Those of us who are familiar with the process have taken this kind of marketing for granted, and it’s just something that runs in the background. However, recently Freemasons around the US, UK, and Canada have noticed a disturbing development: Over the last year or so, many newer officers have been been seeing ads for architectural tools and building products popping up on Facebook and Google feeds. While some found it amusing at first, discussions about this have led us to believe that smartphones have been listening in while officers have been rehearsing their lines; the repetition seems to have indicated to the marketing companies that the officers have an interest in buying trowels, bags of cement, floor tile, or decorative columns.

Word filtered up to some of the more progressive Grand Lodges, and most of them are already in the process of writing up regulations that will affect many of those who are reading this.

In the near — very near — future, you can expect your Grand Lodge to ask you to turn off not only your smartphone (i.e., iPhone or Android), but also your Amazon Echo, or your Google Assistant, or your Apple Siri assistant while rehearsing your lines. Yes, those innocuous little devices all over your household that let you set timers, play music, and switch on your lights work by setting aside a small amount of memory to record your voice. The concern among Grand Lodges right now is that Alexa or Siri has been quietly collecting the ritual from various jurisdictions, and that hackers are already compiling what they have into a digital volume or ebook that they will be able to sell — a modern version of Duncan’s Ritual, if you will.

If you have these devices from Amazon, Apple, or Google, then you need to be aware that you essentially have electronic cowans and eavesdroppers right in your kitchens, offices, and bedrooms. Yes, we all know the joke that the wife or children of a typical Mason knows the work because they keep hearing the guy talking to himself (usually in the bathroom). But this is different: Alexa or Siri is actually recording what you are saying. and Google can match up what you are saying with some of the works that are already all over the internet. In fact, if you are using Google Assistant on your Android phone, it could probably even correct or prompt you as you’re rehearsing.

And if you are in a jurisdiction in which the Grand Officers still use their old flip phones, and aren’t aware of the 21st century technology, I urge you to contact them as soon as possible, and make them understand that this will be an issue in the coming years. If Facebook and Google executives admit to putting tape over their laptop cameras, shouldn’t we be as diligent in tyling our own doors?

 

 

 

 

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