The FBI Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) has issued a Request for Information to determine the feasibility of an online application capable of monitoring social networks. Specifically, the FBI is seeking to develop an application that “provide[s] an Open Source and social media alert, mapping, and analysis.”
As Common Dreams reports, the FBI wants the application to have the ability to:
Provide an automated search and scrape capability of social networks including Facebook and Twitter.
Allow users to create new keyword searches.
Display different levels of threats as alerts on maps, possibly using color coding to distinguish priority. Google Maps 3D and Yahoo Maps are listed among the “preferred” mapping options.
Plot a wide range of domestic and global terror data.
Immediately translate foreign language tweets into English.
The FBI application may have an unwanted impact on online free speech, says Jennifer Lynch of the Electronic Frontier Foundation in conversation with the New Scientist :
Lynch says that many people post to social media in the expectation that only their friends and followers are reading, which gives them “the sense of freedom to say what they want without worrying too much about recourse,” says Lynch. “But these tools that mine open source data and presumably store it for a very long time, do away with that kind of privacy. I worry about the effect of that on free speech in the US”.