FBI targets monitoring Facebook and Twitter, as it is looking for companies who might want to build a social network monitoring system for the Federal Bureau of Investigation
FBI targets monitoring Facebook and Twitter, as it is looking for companies who might want to build a social network monitoring system for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The FBI has got tired of monitoring social media sites like Facebook and Twitter manually and wants to reinvent the process. Soon our messages or posts may instantly light up on a map as a big red dot if considered suspicious, marking the location of the ‘bad actor.’
Users of social networks like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter may have to watch what they do online – the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is planning to continuously monitor the global output of these services.
Social Media as the tool of FBI
“Social media has become a primary source of intelligence because it has become the premier first response to key events and the primal alert to possible developing situations,” says the Request for Information published by FBI on January 19. FBI claims it can use data pulled from these services to better respond to – and even foresee – crises.
”’The bureau’s wish list calls for the system to be able to automatically search “publicly available” material from Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for keywords relating to terrorism, surveillance operations, online crime and other FBI missions. Agents would be alerted if the searches produce evidence of ‘breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats,'” NewScientist.com said.
It should also be capable of automated filtering of the data and of providing the operator with instant notification of breaking events and emerging threats. Under the plan, FBI agents can display tweets and other information captured by the system on a map, where they can add layers of other data.
FBI is watching you !
The FBI’s ‘market research’ shows that the bureau is planning to monitor all ‘publicly available’ data on social media sites through a new game-changing system. It should also be capable of automated filtering of the data and of providing the operator with instant notification of breaking events and emerging threats.
The bureau is looking for a company which is interested in and capable of building such a system and has published a list of requirements for it. Potential contractors were invited to reply by February 10.
The enquiry says that the system should provide an automated search and scrape capability of both social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crises, and threats that meet the search parameters defined by the FBI. Also, the document suggests that the bureau wants to use social media to target specific users or groups of users.
FBI Agents as Soothsayers hunting at social networks
“But the idea of turning agents into digital soothsayers is plausible: researchers working at Facebook and in academia have shown that social media can be used to infer many things about an individual, including the existence of friendships that are not declared on social networking sites and the location of users who have not revealed where they are based,” it said.
It should also be capable of automated filtering of the data and of providing the operator with instant notification of breaking events and emerging threats.
The FBI places strong emphasis on the fact that the system should access only ‘publicly available’ data, taking every occurrence of this phrase in quotes throughout the whole document.
But most people do not realize that the data they are sharing with their friends on social networking sites is in fact publicly available.
The average user believes that only a narrow circle of close friends and relatives are reading his or her blog, and this gives them “the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse,” says Jennifer Lynch at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, as cited by newscientist.com. “But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US.”
FBI collects data from Twitter, Facebook and Google+
All the collected data will be stored in the FBI database and conveniently displayed on a map upon request (by the way, FBI prefers Google, ESRI, and Yahoo maps to any other service). Of course the functionality of the map will be increased beyond the limits set for the common user.
The interactive map will have additional layers, such as US domestic and worldwide terror data, US embassies and military installations around the world, weather conditions and forecasts, and video feeds from surveillance and traffic cameras.
Why FBI won’t care about privacy
The revelation of the FBI’s ‘market research’ raises even more concerns about the aspects of private data safety on the Internet, as more and more data about the users is being collected and stored – for different reasons – in numerous databases around the globe. Such data may include the locations of US embassies and military installations, details of previous terrorist attacks and the output from local traffic cameras.
Collecting the information in not a challenge anymore, but analyzing the data is. But there are companies, for example Google, which can crack such a problem.
FBI marks suspicious persons on Social Media as ‘bad actors’
Recently Google announced plans to bring all data collected from users’ separate accounts on its sites into a combined profile. Google is seeking ways of creating a simpler product experience and providing better services to its clients. But that move has triggered a lot of outrage and raised more questions about privacy on the Internet
“It notes that agents need to ‘locate bad actors…and analyze their movements, vulnerabilities, limitations, and possible adverse actions.’ It also states that the bureau will use social media to create ‘pattern-of-life matrices’ — presumably logs of targets’ daily routines — that will aid law enforcement in planning operations,” NewScientist said.
While the FBI claims it will use “publicly available” information, the Electronic Frontier Foundation – a digital rights advocacy group – warned of possible unwelcome impacts.
EFF’s Jennifer Lynch said many people post to social media expecting only their friends and followers are reading.
Such a sense of privacy gives people “the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse,” she said.
“But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time, do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US,” Lynch said.
A separate article on tech site Mashable said the FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center (SOIC) inadvertently revealed this malicous plan in a market research request for a “Social Media Application.”
The supposed application is to provide an automated search and scrape capability of both social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crisis, and threats that meet the search parameters/keywords defined by FBI SIOC.
FBI will have the capability for automated search of national news, local news, and social media networks Facebook, Google+, Twitter and provide instant notifications of breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats that have been vetted
It can immediately access geospatial maps with coding in addition to providing critical infrastructural layers.