Don’t mind that panel van parked on your Facebook friends list, or the one following you on Twitter. It’s probably there to deliver flowers or repair someone’s cable. It’s definitely not the FBI scrutinizing your every keystroke. Really, it’s not. But it soon could be, according to NewScientist, which revealed today that the feds have been shopping around for a system to monitor social media sites.
The normally tight-lipped FBI tipped its hand in a job listing, posted January 19, where it expressed a desire for a surveillance system that could comb social networks for explosive keywords like pipe bomb, terrorist cell, or Tim Tebow.
NewScientist has more:
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”.
Agents will have the option of displaying the tweets and other material captured by the system on a map, to which they can add layers of other data, including the locations of US embassies and military installations, details of previous terrorist attacks and the output from local traffic cameras.
… the bureau wants to use social media to target specific users or groups of users. 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.