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A short history of the CIA’s involvement with social media


You don’t need to wear a tinfoil hat to believe that the CIA is using Facebook, Twitter, Google (GOOG) and other social media to spy on people. That’s because the CIA publishes a helpful list of press releases on all the social media ventures it sponsors, via its technology investment arm In-Q-Tel.

The companies that take In-Q-Tel’s money aren’t shy about publicizing what they’re up to, either. Most recently, GeoSemble announced an update to its GeoXray product, which monitors social media chatter based on location:

This capability benefits business users who may be monitoring competition, supply chain activity or business opportunities in a county, neighborhood or border region.

For governments at the city, local and Federal levels it brings the ability to visualize activity in a given area filtered by topic, time and location.

… we can deliver whatever information is available about that place from websites, blogs, tweets and other social media automatically and accurately …

The world’s largest database on individuals
One of the main threats to privacy comes from advertisers, who want to track everything consumers do on the web and scrape their online accounts for personal information. It shouldn’t be surprising, therefore, to learn that the CIA and the worlds largest ad agency network, WPP (WPPGY), have been in bed together on a social media data-mining venture since at least January 2009. WPP currently claims to own the world’s largest database of unique individual profiles — including demographic, financial, purchase and geographic histories. WPP’s Visible Technologies unit took an investment from In-Q-Tel in fall of 2009. Visible Technologies develops tools that can scan social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

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