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We expect our spy agencies to… well… spy, but somehow it’s a little disquieting when you discover they might be spying on YOUR blog posts and Tweets.

Wired has broken a story that the investment agency of the CIA and other U.S. spy agencies, In-Q-Tel, has put money into a company that monitors social media: Visible Technologies of Bellevue, Wash. (page here.)

On the company page, the pitch for their services includes:

“Listening to your customers is a critical first step in deploying an effective social media strategy and successfully managing your brand online. Listening to social conversations helps you get acquainted with online consumers, monitor their perceptions about your brand and competitors, spot potential issues, and can help identify authentic brand influencers and advocates.”

Visible Technologies monitors Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, Amazon, hundreds of thousands of web 2.0 sites and millions of posts on blogs every day, according to Wired. Since Facebook is closed, it does not monitor them.

Their customers get feeds based on key words with scores indicating how positive or negative the items are as well as how influential the writer is.

The spy agencies want to boost Visible’s foreign-language capabilities so they can monitor international discussions of issues, Wired said.

I think anyone using the Internet should certainly know there isn’t the slightest shred of expectation of privacy there. If your tinfoil hat is overheating, you can set up accounts using aliases.

Wired story here.

Tom Kelchner

Update
(thanks Alex)

On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets:
An Empirical Study

Paper here.


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