Social media has taken a firm hold on culture not only in the United States, but throughout the world. The Central Intelligence Agency is certainly aware of this fact. That is why they developed a special unit to monitor Facebook, Twitter, and blog activity around the globe.
Imagine what this could mean for you? Becareful about posting pictures on Facebook and Twitter. The government could be watching.
There have been allegations that the vengeful librarians who run The Open Source Center could actively be reviewing data on the citizens regardless of the law.
Who wants to live in a world where the government can listen in on every communication without any evidence of crime? said Greg Nojeim in a 2009 interview with CNET. Nojeim is an attorney for the Center for Democracy and Technology.
The consequences of that are that people won't communicate freely and the country would be very different as a result. Imagine how your conversation with a close personal friend would change if you knew someone else was listening. That's what is at stake. That's what needs to be protected, he said.
But before privacy advocates seek a subpoena on the CIA and their practice, it is important to note that their entire operation analyzes social media activity in other countries. It is illegal for the CIA to conduct any type of espionage activity on its own citizens, without a warrant. That means, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and e-mails are off limits to the national intelligence agencies. The government flat out denies it illegaly spies on its citizens.
The Open Source Center, as it is called, is housed by so called vengeful librarians. They are able to accurately analyze Tweets, Facebook posts, and blog entries. While most members of the Open Source Center are based in Virginia, many others are stationed in embassies throughout the world.
Open Source Center was first established in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. It was formed as a way to analyze public information on Facebook and Twitter and combat terrorism. However, the group's action goes well beyond targeting possible terror threats. They examine public opinion and actions overseas.
For example, after bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, the Open Source Center feverishly analyzed information on social media in order to report to the White House the mood of the area. They determined that the Tweets from China, Pakistan, and the greater Middle East area were quite negative after the news broke about bin Laden.
Supposedly, the Center predicted the fall of the Mubarak regime. They apparently knew that Facebook and Twitter would play a major role in the organization of the protesters, according to the Associated Press.
The Center predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime, said Doug Naquin, the head of the Open Source Center in recent interview with The Associated Press at the center. CIA officials informed the A.P. that this was the first visit by a reporter the agency has ever granted.
The Center actively seeks out individuals holding degrees in library science. This gives them an analytical edge and the ability to find things other cannot. They also seek individuals who can speak multiple languages. This will them to actively analyze Twitter and Facebook in coutnries around the globe.