Exclusive: U.S. Spies Buy Stake in Firm That Monitors Blogs, Tweets
wired dot com / Noah Shachtman
20-Oct-2009 (2 comments)

America’s spy agencies want to read your blog posts, keep track of your Twitter updates — even check out your book reviews on Amazon.

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, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos and radio reports generated every day.

Visible 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 determin... >>>

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che khabar e

cool by me too

by che khabar e on

I doubt anyone would have a problem if the focus of attention was on child molesters.  I feel much the same way about traitors and/or possible terrorism.  But of course, I have nothing to hide.  :-)

ex programmer craig

About time!

by ex programmer craig on

They could have saved a lot of money just by asking me to point out the bad guys on the Arab blogs, years ago, though. It's not like they try to keep a low profile, eh? And seriously... how much effort would they have to invest to monitor this website for subversive activities?

I suppose it's OK for them to waste billions of dollars on a tech solution when a little bit of common sense and minimal effort on the part of a few employees could accomplish the same thing... as long as they get the job done. No more Raed Jarrars getting US visas = mission accomplished.