Sunday, May 1, 2016


Do you favor the CIA tracking down terrorists on social media? free polls
     The U.S. intelligence agencies are actively hunting down terrorist networks by sifting through and dissecting social media accounts and posts. The CIA runs a social-media tacking center that is located in an ordinary-looking building in a Virginia industrial park. Issue4/26/16 “Spy Agency Happenings!” features hand-picked articles and journal documents that reveal how the U.S. and foreign spy agencies sift through the vast social media world to accomplish this feat.
      The secret CIA installation positioned inside a characterless industrial park was dubbed the Open Source Center and is staffed by several hundred agents. Some of these prying-eye agents are called “vengeful librarians” (VL’s, as I name them). They spend the day and night sifting through millions of tweets, Facebook messages, online chat logs, Instagram and Pinterest pictures, suspicious Google search queries, questionable websites…you name it.
     The VL’s, many of which hold a master’s degree in library science, zealously track down terrorists via these digital social platforms. They scrutinize five million tweets each day from China, Pakistan and Egypt alone, looking for footprints, cyphers, clues and visceral hints that extremists may be using a particular site to recruit, make plans with or train a follower…or to order an attack on America. 
     The idea of monitoring and analyzing social media channels was hatched when thousands of Iranian protesters turned to Twitter during the 2009 Iranian election protests. I remember tweeting back and forth with dozens of Iranian activists who picketed and marched through the streets of Tehran. From my living room in states, I gave them comfort and encouraged them not to give up. Our social media communications ended when the Iranian government shut down the Internet.
     It was during these protests that someone on the 7th floor of the CIA…or was it the 6th?... must have asked, “Hey! Why don’t we monitor foreign and domestic social media sites to get a grasp on the mood of the country…the feelings and emotions of the populace…to determine the likelihood of the local population acting on some future political event?”
     Well, it happened. The Open Source Center was created and now is operating in full-swing, predicting geopolitical events that may unfold by analyzing the moods, sentiments, thoughts and feelings of individuals and groups in hotspot regions around the world.
     In addition to tracking down terrorists, the center also attempts to grasp the intensity of moods and sentiments surrounding timely and sometimes unfortunate events, such as the bombing of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan on October 2015.
    The Open Source Center and their Ninja librarians have, indeed, predicted the uprising in Egypt and the Arab Spring.
     Check out Issue 4/2616 of “Spy AgencyHappenings!” and find out much more about how U.S. and foreign intelligence agencies employ social media to track down terrorists. This particular issue also highllights how deft ISIS and other terrorist networks are in using social media to their advantage. It also has videos on the topic and a forum to voice your thoughts on the matter.
     Personally, I’m glad the CIA Open Source Center is tracking communications on social media that have anything to do with radical Islam and terrorist-related activities.

Further Reading: Our Pick

Robert Morton, Ed., Ed.S. is a member of the Association Of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO) and writes the online spy novel series "Corey Pearson- CIA Spymaster in the Caribbean".  The views expressed on this site do not represent those of any organization he is a member of. Contact him on the Secure Contact Form

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