FBI Plans To Monitor Social Media.

The FBI’s Strategic Information and Operations Center (SOIC) has, in a round about way, revealed that they are considering this course of action in a market research request for a “Social Media Application.”

In a six page document the organisation specifies its requirements for the “social media application,” and in part of the document it states:

The FBI has conducted market research and determined that a geospatial alert and analysis mapping application is the best known solution for attaining and disseminating real time open source intelligence and improving the FBI’s overall situational awareness.”

Some of the requirements for the application are listed below:

  • The ability for users to create, define, and select parameters/key word requirements. Automated search of national news, local news, and social media networks. Examples include but are not limited to Fox News. CNN, MSNBC, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • To Provide instant notifications of breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats that have been vetted and meet the defined search parameters.
  • The capability to Provide an automated search and scrape of both social networking sites and open source news sites for breaking events, crisis, and threats that meet the search parameters/keywords defined by FBI SIOC.
  • The ability to instantly translate into English, Tweets and any other open source forum publicly available social media captured in a foreign language.
  • The ability to immediately access geospatial maps with coding in addition to providing critical infrastructural layers. Preferred maps include but are not limited to Google Maps, Google 3D maps, ESRI, and Yahoo Maps.
  • The ability to instantly search and monitor key words and strings in all “publicly available” tweets across the Twitter Site and any content from other “publicly available” social networking sites/forums (i.e. Facebook, MySpace, etc.).

There have been many rumours that the UK Metropolitain Police Force used social networking sites and moblie phone communications, in conjunction with CCTV evidence to identify exactly which members of the public took part in and/or organised the riots in the UK during August 2011. It is hard to beleive that the security forces of any country would not utilize such a vast amount of information, specifically linked to individuals, during their enquiries but it is slightly surprising that an organisation such as the FBI would allow this intention to become public knowledge. It has to be said however that there are legal implications regarding the use of some of this information such as mobile phone records and emails but with regards to publicly shared information the US government and agencies take the view that any publicly shared information is “fair game.”


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