The Social networking sites are the most visited sites after the porn sites. Social networking sites contain data of an individual which includes his colleagues, friends, relatives, interests, his ideas, his interests, personal address, phone numbers, etc., everything in a comprehensive manner. Probably, none of our identity proofs by government provides has this much data about any citizen.
This thought has made all the spying agencies and governments to use social networking sites, Facebook and Myspace to compile databases of almost everyone. That’s why most governments and intelligence agencies have found a credible tool in the form of social networking site, like FaceBook, to get data of any person, from any remote part of the world. This falls under the category of cyber spying. Cyber-spying has been going on for more than a decade, against the Departments of Defense, State and Energy and against high-tech companies that make civil and military products.
The reasons behind social network spying:
Social networking sites are also used to create some radical groups to run some idiotic conspiracy theories about the government who are dead against US diplomacy and direct people into wrong path and to create tension in the country. Then this tension will be projected as a peace policy of UNO and enter into a country and grab control over the country to exploit it. Example: Afghanistan, the Balkan Peninsula issue (where still Serbia is under tension because of USA and NATO forces), Iran, Iraq (to control oil depositories) etc.
The very recent standing example is China-Google scandal, where spying happened using Google. This reflected the fact that the focus of American spying is traditional, is on statecraft arms sales, military capabilities, and plans, political intentions. The Washington, D.C.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center has filed a legal request for information on Google Inc.’s reported plans to team with the National Security Agency in analyzing a cyber-attack originating in China. According to the Washington Post report, “There is particular urgency for the public to obtain information about the relationship between the NSA and Google,” EPIC wrote in its FOIA request. “As of 2009, Gmail had roughly 146 million monthly users, all of whom would be affected by any relationship between the NSA and Google.”
The journey of Social network spying:
The fact is that your personal (face) book is just a page in the intelligence agencies’ encyclopedia book and we ourselves help other country’s intelligence to spy on us. This thought has made almost all the spying agencies to invest in social networking. The CIA has invested a lot for monitoring social networking sites and program those sites according to their task. As a part of this, In-Q-Tel, a nonprofit venture-capital firm based in Arlington was brought into picture by US government in 1999 to develop technologies for spying and surveillance, which will serve as the virtual spy of central intelligence of America and to also make pro-American propaganda.
In-Q-Tel has put money into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring the internet, which examines more than half a million websites a day, looking through more than a million posts and interactions happening on blogs, online forums and popular social media sites such as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and Amazon.
In April 2009, the Time magazine reported on a Web-based intelligence-sharing resource called “Intellipedia,” being used by the CIA and its related agencies. “The service, which is essentially a classified version of Wikipedia, has grown to a 900,000-page magnum opus of espionage, handling some 100,000 user accounts and 5,000 page edits a day, according to the CIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.”
Facebook’s first round of venture capital funding ($US500,000) came from former Paypal CEO Peter Thiel, theauthor of anti-multicultural tome ‘The Diversity Myth’. He is also on the board of radical conservative group VanguardPAC.
The second round of funding to Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company’s key areas of expertise is in “data mining technologies”.
Breyer also served on the board of R&D firm BBN Technologies, which was one of those companies responsible for the rise of the internet.Dr Anita Jones joined the firm, which included Gilman Louie. She had also served on the In-Q-Tel’s board, and had been director of Defense Research and Engineering for the US Department of Defense. She was also an adviser to the Secretary of Defense and overseeing the DARPA, which is responsible for high-tech, high-end development. It was when a journalist lifted the lid on the DARPA.
Claims on Spying:
Wikipedia’s IAO page says: “The IAO has the stated mission to gather as much information as possible about everyone, in a centralized location, for easy perusal by the United States government, including (though not limited to) internet activity, credit card purchase histories, airline ticket purchases, car rentals, medical records, educational transcripts, driver’s licenses, utility bills, tax returns, and any other available data.”
Not surprisingly, the backlash from civil libertarians led to a Congressional investigation into DARPA’s activity. The Information Awareness Office lost its funding. Now the internet conspiracy theorists are citing Facebook as the IAO’s new mask. Parts of the IAO’s technology round-up included ‘human network analysis and behavior model building engines’, which Facebook’s massive volume of neatly-targeted data gathering allows for.
Doug Naquin, director of the Director of National Intelligence Open Source Center, admitted that U.S. spies were using social media outlets like YouTube to stay updated. “We’re looking at chat rooms and things that didn’t exist five years ago, and trying to stay ahead.” In April 2007, Dr. D. Calvin Andrus, the CIA’s Directorate of Support, published an article examining the need for fast information sharing and networking in modern intelligence.
In an interview with Russia Today, Julian Assange raised the issue of the United States using online information centers like Facebook and Google for intelligence purposes. The Wikileaks founder also spoke about media’s role in the last 50 years of war. The government is using facebook and MySpace crazed citizens to compile databases on everyone! They are willingly just giving up the info each time they update their profiles. Tagging photos, linking friends, tracking friends, and giving up personal details such as phone numbers and schedules, these are all ways they are collecting and compiling info on all of us. Through these social network sites we have given them everything they have wanted and they don’t even have to work to get it!
A magazine named Wired has revealed the investment arm the Central Intelligence Agency has invested in a software firm called Visible Technologies that specializes in monitoring social media sites, including blogs, Flickr, facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. Wired reporter Noah Shachtman writes, “America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates.
There is also news spreading out as a point of discussion in many blogs that when we apply visa to the USA, they are using social networking sites to know about us in detail.
Social networking sites are “very large-scale virtual spying agents”. The intention of this article is not to make people stop using the internet or social networking sites, but to make them think before sharing personal information and warning them to be cautious by placing in front of them the facts on how one would indirectly affect a nation’s security by sharing personal information on social sites.
Let us not blindly follow others, but be wise enough to think before we do anything and never forget our responsibility towards national security. Along with curiosity about likes and comments, better realize the responsibilities towards national security and also think the level of risks, for both themselves and those around them and also the whole nation!
The Army may protect a nation from external forces, whereas there is a lot of necessity to maintain internal security too, which is the responsibility of every citizen of any nation. Army and many other departments sacrifice their lives for the sake of their nation’s security, but how can any country be safe when her own people are ignorantly leaking information publicly, thereby easing the enemies ‘efforts in collecting data of almost everyone and help them to plan well to target a country in all possible ways!!
We should also behave responsibly rather than just blaming others for the destructions happening around us! Never forget that we too are ignorantly responsible for all the massacres happening around us, but, pity only few are punished by law!!!
This article is not intended to convey to stop using social media, but need to have a control on the extent of using it..
Note: This article of mine was published in Inner Voice Of Bharath Journal. Apr-June,2013 issue.