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CIA Invests In Firm That Datamines Social Networks 190

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "In-Q-Tel, the investment arm of the CIA and the wider intelligence community, is putting cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media. It's part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using 'open source intelligence' — information that's publicly available... Visible Technologies crawls over half a million web 2.0 sites a day, scraping more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon. (It doesn't touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.) Customers get customized, real-time feeds of what's being said on these sites, based on a series of keywords. 'That's kind of the basic step — get in and monitor,' says company senior vice president Blake Cahill. Then Visible 'scores' each post, labeling it as positive or negative, mixed or neutral. It examines how influential a conversation or an author is. ('Trying to determine who really matters,' as Cahill puts it.) Finally, Visible gives users a chance to tag posts, forward them to colleagues and allow them to response through a web interface."Apropos: Another anonymous reader points out an article making the point that users don't even realize how much private information they're sharing over these services.
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CIA Invests In Firm That Datamines Social Networks

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  • by AliasMarlowe ( 1042386 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @10:58AM (#29808215) Journal

    Why a US government agency needs an "investment arm?"

    Just copying the Brits. They've been referring to many kinds of government spending as "investment" for years now - even chunks of the welfare system. The debasement of the English language proceeds apace, on both sides of the Atlantic...

  • Re:Domestic spying? (Score:5, Informative)

    by sexybomber ( 740588 ) < minus painter> on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:24PM (#29809813)

    I thought the CIA wasn't allowed to do domestic intelligence?

    They're not, but do you think that's going to be a serious impediment to them doing so anyway? First off, they're going to be trying really hard to keep their intelligence gathering a secret, so you probably won't know that they're doing it in the first place. Secondly, even if you did find out about it, what are you going to do? Sue? They'll claim state-secrets privilege within a couple minutes of you filing your complaint. Now you can't do discovery, and there goes your case.

    Point being, "allowed to" is a complete non-issue here. They're going to do what they want, when they want, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

  • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:44PM (#29810191)

    I imagine a post would go something like:

    [Deity/] himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of [Deity/]. Here they are poor and miserable sinners; there they will be rich and happy. Let none hesitate; they must march next summer. [Deity/] wills it!

    And for 100 extra points, which Catholic pope of the 1100s said that to whip up support for a Crusade? Fanaticism isn't restricted to Islam, you know...

    Halfasec, there's a knock on my do..

  • by TarPitt ( 217247 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @12:59PM (#29810487)

    This is already going on.

    Some companies make big money via Astroturfing:

    Has Netvocates visited your blog recently []

    Many bloggers are starting to notice some new referrals from a company called “NetVocates” (mine showed up as coming from to be specific).

    I recently invited a guest blogger (who writes under the pseudonym D. Sirmize) to share his political opinions on my blog. I began to get hits (55 to date) from NetVocates a couple days after his first political post. It would seem that whatever they’re currently looking at is based on opinions of a political nature.

    More from and of course you can look up Netvocates' own Web site, where they are strikingly open about their PR efforts

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:04PM (#29810577)
    The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. United States citizens hide from that fact. Evidence: Goldman Sachs [].

    Since the financial crash, Goldman Sachs has been very profitable, and the U.S. government has done NOTHING to prevent further abuse.

    The U.S. government spends more on surveillance than any country, anywhere.

    The U.S. government has a higher percentage of its citizens in prison than any country, anywhere, in the history of the world, over 6 times higher than countries in Europe.

    The U.S. government has invaded or bombed 24 countries since the end of the 2nd world war, far more than any other country.

    The U.S. government has the highest debt [] of any country in the history of the world.

    The U.S. government spends more on developing weapons than any country in the history of the world.

    That's just a very short list of the just some of the major areas of corruption.
  • by dwiget001 ( 1073738 ) on Tuesday October 20, 2009 @01:32PM (#29811025)


    Sorry, but the total monies owed in benefits for Social Security and Medicaid/care combined, as of about three weeks ago, all unfunded, is/was 65 TRILLION DOLLARS (Source: GAO).

    We are adding one to two TRILLION to this figure every year. And, per GAO circa June 2008, even if we confiscated everyone's income (100 percent of it) from here on out, we wouldn't even have enough money to may the interest on the money owed in benefits for these programs. The bank is broke, and we are just printing money (causing the dollar to devalue severely) like it was going out of style (and, it pretty much is going out of style the way things are going, due to its devaluing).

    Yeah, this is a combination of Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare, but we cannot afford to continue *not* funding these programs and just keep paying the benefits out of newly printed money all the time. Drastic measures are needed *right now* to stop the U.S. Government caused draining of the U.S. economy in regards to these (and probably other) programs. Benefits need to be cut drastically, or these programs just need to be wound down and eliminated completely. Yeah, it's gonna suck for a bunch of people, but not doing so is gonna suck for a whole lot more people (every U.S. citizen).

"I don't believe in sweeping social change being manifested by one person, unless he has an atomic weapon." -- Howard Chaykin