CIA "Ninja-Librarians" Track Twitter
The AP has reported that the CIA is mining social media websites like Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to track everything from common public opinion overseas to revolutions in the making. The branch of the CIA, known as the Open Source Center, looks at up-to 5 million tweets a day. The stated objective is to provide the White House with a daily view of world public opinion.
The analysts, who jokingly call themselves ninja-librarians, also look at TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms, and anything overseas that people can access and contribute to openly. They track a broad range of information from Chinese Internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan, often gathering the information in a native tongue. They cross-reference it with a local newspaper or an intercepted phone conversation. From there, they paint a picture of overseas public opinion for the highest levels at the White House.
The Open Source Center, which has several hundred members, was created as a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission. The center's priority is to focus on counter-terrorism. They claim to have seen the uprising in Egypt coming and according to the center's director, Doug Naquin they "predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime."