FBI to Monitor Facebook, Twitter, etc
At this time, it has been revealed that the U.S. government looking for a way to “mine” social networking sites to try to predict everything from terrorism to social upheavals and protests. This information came to light after uncovering some formal requests made by various security officials in the government.
Hundreds of intelligence officers and experts are already analyzing the overseas versions of Twitter and Facebook in an effort to monitor social events such as the Arab spring. But in a formal “request for information” from potential contractors, the FBI recently started their intentions to develop a digital tool that can scan the transactions of all the users on Facebook and Twitter in the United States quickly and efficiently. That data is much more than anything even the fastest of typists and readers could process.
Joining the FBI in their attempts to scan the vast amounts of data is the Department of Defense and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. They have also been in contact with private manufacturers and software programmers to create a way to digitally scan all of that information.
“Social media has emerged to be the first instance of communication about a crisis, trumping traditional first responders that included police, firefighters, EMT, and journalists,” according to the official FBI request. “Social media is rivaling 911 services in crisis response and reporting.”
Without missing a beat, the proposal has already raised countless concerns about the privacy of users on the social networking scene, saying that the constant monitoring would likely have a very chilling effect on people. Ginger McCall, director of the open government project at the Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center, said that the FBI has no right to monitor a place of communications that has an expected line of freedom of speech. That kind of monitoring should only be allowed in situations that have a reasonable excuse for the use of such monitoring tactics.
“Any time that you have to worry about the federal government following you around peering over your shoulder listening to what you’re saying, it’s going to affect the way you speak and the way that you act,” McCall said.
According to their official statement released to The Associated Press, The FBI’s proposed design will not be invasive in any way, nor will it target any information that is not already publicly available. Rather, it will search specifically for key words or groups that are related to criminals or criminal activity.
The analysis of public information is not exactly a new concept in the world of information intelligence. During the Cold War, for example, CIA operatives read Russian newspapers and intercepted television and radio broadcasts in hopes of inferring what Soviet leaders were thinking.
But the rise of social media over the past few years has dramatically changed both the kinds and amount of freely available information. For example, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said at a recent conference that users of the micro-blogging service send out an average of one billion tweets every three days.
“It really ought to be the golden age of intelligence collection in that you’ve got people falling all over themselves trying to express who they are,” said Ross Stapleton-Gray, a former CIA analyst and now a technology consultant who advises companies on security, surveillance and privacy issues.