In a formal "request for information," the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) asked software companies for a digital tool that would systematically scan the entire social media realm to find potential terrorist-related threats and intelligence information. While hundreds of intelligence analysts are already probing overseas Facebook and Twitter posts, U.S. law enforcement officials claim digital software could sift through more data than humans ever could.
The FBI is the latest in a growing catalog of agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the office of the Director of National Intelligence, that have pursued methods to monitor conversations and other information on a myriad of social media platforms. In an article published last month, when the surveillance plan was originally proposed, the Atlantic explained how several government agencies have utilized this technology:
Other federal agencies have similar programs. DARPA, the Department of Defense's advanced-projects incubator, put out an open call for "memetrackers" trained in social-network analysis in August. The CIA has maintained a social-media tracking center in Virginia for years, a continuation of the station's original mission to sort through online sources like Daily Kos. But the primary difference between the DoD/CIA projects and FBI's are likely a matter of jurisdiction: the FBI, as the federal government's highest law-enforcement agency, will focus primarily on domestic threats while the CIA and DoD focus their efforts on intelligence gathering abroad. …
Click here to read the entire article.