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CIA Invests In Firm That Datamines Social Networks

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the problem-with-limited-privatization dept.

Privacy 190

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "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... Visible Technologies 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 determine who really matters,' as Cahill puts it.) Finally, Visible gives users a chance to tag posts, forward them to colleagues and allow them to response through a web interface."Apropos: Another anonymous reader points out an article making the point that users don't even realize how much private information they're sharing over these services.

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190 comments

Can somebody tell me (5, Insightful)

mrdoogee (1179081) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808165)

Why a US government agency needs an "investment arm?"

Re:Can somebody tell me (4, Informative)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808215)

Why a US government agency needs an "investment arm?"

Just copying the Brits. They've been referring to many kinds of government spending as "investment" for years now - even chunks of the welfare system. The debasement of the English language proceeds apace, on both sides of the Atlantic...

Re:Can somebody tell me (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808303)

Visible Technologies 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.

Well, hello there!

(their "Visible Technologies" highlights must be flashing with this slashdot story)

Re:Can somebody tell me (4, Funny)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808581)

Just in case Visible Technologies crawls /. looking for it's own name: Fuck Off

Re:Can somebody tell me (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808881)

Just in case Visible Technologies crawls /. looking for it's own name: Fuck Off

Salutations from a common SLASHDOT.ORG entity,

Do you mind if I ask you a question?

How influential are you among the other entities of SLASHDOT.ORG.

Thank you.

Troubling technology (3, Insightful)

mollog (841386) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809013)

What troubles me about this is not the security applications, although there is risk there, too, but the political, persuasive abuse. Innocent sites like Slashdot will be 'turfed' to move public opinion and public perception.

I'll guess that this is already going on.

Re:Troubling technology (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809149)

This has been going on for a while; social networking websites, news websites (with comments), aggregators like /., and blogs are routinely astroturfed.

Re:Troubling technology (2, Informative)

TarPitt (217247) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810487)

This is already going on.

Some companies make big money via Astroturfing:

Has Netvocates visited your blog recently [utahadventurevideos.com]

Many bloggers are starting to notice some new referrals from a company called “NetVocates” (mine showed up as coming from arrca.netvocates.com to be specific).

I recently invited a guest blogger (who writes under the pseudonym D. Sirmize) to share his political opinions on my blog. I began to get hits (55 to date) from NetVocates a couple days after his first political post. It would seem that whatever they’re currently looking at is based on opinions of a political nature.

More from http://wordsnotfists.blogspot.com/2006/06/another-inconvenient-truth-netvocates.html and of course you can look up Netvocates' own Web site, where they are strikingly open about their PR efforts

Re:Can somebody tell me (4, Funny)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809589)

Psst.. Visible Technologies, please do something about the Anonymous Coward bastard.. he's such a troll in every freaking thread.

Data mine this. (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809617)

Bomb. Obama. Whitehouse. CIA. FBI. Conspiracy. Ruby ridge. Muslim. Jihad. Osama. Israel. Arlington Road. Homeland Security. 747. 777. Pilot lessons. Explode. 9/11. Pentagon.

Think of it like Carlin's "7 words you can't say on TV".

Re:Data mine this. (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810435)

Your post lacked several words such as: suitcase nuke uranium plutonium dirty bomb assassinate Flight Airplane Airport Tickets passports improvised diesel fuel oil fertilizer nitrogen detonators cipher decode infiltrate

Re:Can somebody tell me (3, Insightful)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808219)

If you've got your own little money tree you aren't as tied to budgets set by someone else.

Re:Can somebody tell me (0, Troll)

fulldecent (598482) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808677)

>> [Can somebody tell me] Why a US government agency needs an "investment arm?"

Because work carried out in the private sector is more efficient than work carried out in the public sector.

See: http://news.google.com/news/search?q=state+pension+liabilities [google.com]

Re:Can somebody tell me (4, Insightful)

LordKazan (558383) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808889)

that statement is neither necessarily true nor necessarily false - corporations and the government are bureaucracies. Sometimes one is better, sometimes the other is.

For example the National Weather Service kicks the living crap out of every private company trying to do the same thing. They pay well, the recruit the best and brightest, they are managed by professionals with experience doing what their underlings do [something you often only can DREAM of in the corporate world or the government world].

Medicare is another example - it's operating overhead is 4%. The operating overhead of private "insurance" (sorry, it's fraud, not insurance anymore) is a whopping 30% MINIMUM.

On the other hand there are some things private industry IS better at doing, and the government quite often contracts out to these people - construction comes to mind, software development, etc.

The government, when run by skilled people, tends to be much better at private industry than doing things that are "natural monopolies" (police, fire, roads, water, etc) or things the profit-motive would harm [like insurance].

Re:Can somebody tell me (2)

inviolet (797804) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810127)

Medicare is another example - it's operating overhead is 4%. The operating overhead of private "insurance" (sorry, it's fraud, not insurance anymore) is a whopping 30% MINIMUM.

Probably not a good example to use in illustrating your point. Dealing with Medicare billing is such a gigantic heartache that doctors' offices who do so, and they are a small minority, will have to hire at least one specialized clerk just for that purpose. In this sense, Medicare is shifting its overhead onto its customers. Whereas private insurance is required, by competition, to be reasonably easy for all parties to deal with.

Regading your "fraud!" quip, I think the problem lies in our mistaken belief that "health insurance" = "health plan", and the subsequent chaotic conversion of the industry from the former to the latter. I would prefer to have health insurance, which is much cheaper than a "free zyrtec!" must-carry monstrosity whose sole purpose is to shift the cost of unhealthy people onto healthy people.

Re:Can somebody tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810471)

[Citation needed]

Here's why (5, Interesting)

NoYob (1630681) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808787)

  1. To promote technologies that will add to the CIA's arsenal.
  2. To buy into companies that allow them to circumnavigate Constitutional provisions against spying on American citizens.

For example, the second one, the CIA loves companies like this one [choicepoint.com] and the credit bureaus because they can legally collect information on private citizens. Then the CIA "buys" the information from them and they can go to Congress and say, "Nope! We are NOT spying on Americans." - at least that's the answer to the Congressmen that aren't afraid to appear to be "weak on terrorism" or afraid to be lambasted by ignorant talk show hosts.

Re:Here's why (3, Interesting)

DutchUncle (826473) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809847)

So my follow-on question is, Why does everyone think it's OK for private companies answerable to no one (or the highest bidder) to be collecting this information in the first place? Well, yes, I suppose most people in this thread don't think so, but all of the normal people out there seem to be perfectly happy with the idea.

Re:Here's why (3, Insightful)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810631)

So my follow-on question is, Why does everyone think it's OK for private companies answerable to no one (or the highest bidder) to be collecting this information in the first place? Well, yes, I suppose most people in this thread don't think so, but all of the normal people out there seem to be perfectly happy with the idea.

Because they don't view the Bill of Rights as sound and enlightened principles to be honored wherever possible that happened to be enshrined in the Constitution. They view them as rules like any other. Then they note that either the rules don't apply to those private companies or they would be difficult to enforce, and for them, that's that. It's a mentality that is all about what is allowed or what can be gotten away with, rather than what is right or wrong.

I do have a more immediate question. If an average citizen hires a person to do something illegal, both the person and the one he hired can be charged with a crime. If it's illegal for the CIA to gather data on American citizens, why is it suddenly legal when they do the same thing by proxy? Why wouldn't both they and the company they hired be prosecuted for this?

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810577)

The U.S. government is EXTREMELY corrupt. United States citizens hide from that fact. Evidence: Goldman Sachs [rollingstone.com].

Since the financial crash, Goldman Sachs has been very profitable, and the U.S. government has done NOTHING to prevent further abuse.

The U.S. government spends more on surveillance than any country, anywhere.

The U.S. government has a higher percentage of its citizens in prison than any country, anywhere, in the history of the world, over 6 times higher than countries in Europe.

The U.S. government has invaded or bombed 24 countries since the end of the 2nd world war, far more than any other country.

The U.S. government has the highest debt [wikipedia.org] of any country in the history of the world.

The U.S. government spends more on developing weapons than any country in the history of the world.

That's just a very short list of the just some of the major areas of corruption.

Re:Can somebody tell me (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808883)

You may also wonder why they needed to illegally . Or perhaps you might wonder why they would [wikipedia.org]dose "their own" citizens with LSD [wikipedia.org]

I think Zack De La Rocha, The Last Emperor & KRS-ONE said it best in their track "CIA"
"Need I say the C.I.A. be criminals in action"

But given that the same song said that "President Clinton should delete them", I guess it wasn't as popular as it could have been :) and sadly, since 9/11 they are actually percieved to have a job again. A front job is always a very good thing for a criminal. Nothing like an air of legitimacy to hide criminal minds.

-Steve

Re:Can somebody tell me (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810041)

But given that the same song said that "President Clinton should delete them", I guess it wasn't as popular as it could have been :) and sadly, since 9/11 they are actually percieved to have a job again.

Strange. Kennedy fired Dulles & his Number Two, then wrote a couple executive orders breaking the CIA into a thousand pieces to be swallowed up by the various military intelligence services. His body was still cooling off when LBJ rescinded those orders and ended up starting the Vietnam War.

The Russian Federation's experiences with ex-spooks (former KGB officers) tells us that if you fire them, they'll just go underground as criminals. Russian Mafia, anybody?

Re:Can somebody tell me (1)

causality (777677) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810687)

The Russian Federation's experiences with ex-spooks (former KGB officers) tells us that if you fire them, they'll just go underground as criminals. Russian Mafia, anybody?

So we should learn something from the ronin, perhaps. Nothing like history repeating itself...

Re:Can somebody tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810287)

Wow...way to let a bunch of rappers give you your political ideology. Tell me, do you hate cops, too?

You, sir, are an idiot.

Re:Can somebody tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810473)

I think Zack De La Rocha, The Last Emperor & KRS-ONE said it best in their track "CIA"
"Need I say the C.I.A. be criminals in action"

Said it best, indeed. Who can match such eloquence, such panache?

(seriously, you're a fucking idiot)

Re:Can somebody tell me (3, Insightful)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809071)

What you don't understand is that part of the CIA has ALWAYS had an investment arm, even before the CIA and OSS existed. The CIA was born out of the private intelligence networks already well established by Wall Street, hence why so many of the early CIA was filled and run by Ivy League schools and Yale's Skull and Bones crowd.

The funny thing is Facebook has long since been implicated as being funded indirectly by In-Q-Tel. [nzherald.co.nz]

The second round of funding into Facebook ($US12.7 million) came from venture capital firm Accel Partners. Its manager James Breyer was formerly chairman of the National Venture Capital Association, and served on the board with Gilman Louie, CEO of In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm established by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1999. One of the company's key areas of expertise are in "data mining technologies".

Since 1947 the CIA and other intelligence activities have been more and more privatized. They have always used front companies. Search for the Northwoods Documents, which were authored in the late 1950's.

Many have argued that E.O 12333 privatized a lot of intelligence work. Read Confessions of an Economic Hitman if you want to know one reason why they do this.

This is really only news to people who don't pay attention.

Re:Can somebody tell me (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810257)

I sometimes wonder about Google too...

I also wonder about the trillions the Federal Reserve refuses to talk about. Where did the money go?

Re:Can somebody tell me (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809861)

Why a US government agency needs an "investment arm?"

To help fund off the books black ops projects, of course. Can't exactly go before the House Budget Committee and request multiple millions for bribe money to be used on foreign dictators, now, can you? And to provide plausible deniability, like 'Air America' back during the Vietnam days.

Re:Can somebody tell me (1)

j. andrew rogers (774820) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810647)

Why a US government agency needs an "investment arm?"

Investment vehicles like In-Q-Tel are not redundant with conventional venture capital and were created to fill some clear funding gaps in the existing technology venture markets.

First and foremost, they tend to invest in ventures with technologies that are sufficiently advanced or unusual that normal VCs will promptly ignore the venture. This came out of a realization that really advanced computer science and hardware technologies that the agencies needed were being routinely ignored in the traditional venture markets because VCs don't understand technologies that don't play buzzword bingo or which don't follow the herd. Investment vehicles like In-Q-Tel have a much stronger long-term technology vision and in-depth technical competency than traditional VC firms, which can be beneficial if you are building a startup based on serious geekery.

Second, they provide an inside track into organizations that would otherwise be very difficult for a startup with no ties to the defense industry to sell into. There are big customers of advanced computer and software technologies in the defense organizations, but getting a product in front of the right people is no easy task if you are an outsider.

some people are stupid... (2, Insightful)

cryoman23 (1646557) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808211)

on sites like twitter u just don't go and tell/fill in personal information... and if its mandatory scrap the site

Re:some people are stupid... (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808621)

Exactly right. If you're posting for the world to see, even if you're using an alias, you'd better be flying the straight and narrow and be cautious enough to avoid posting anything that would allow identity theft.

Still, this kind of intrusion infuriates me to the point that I'm going to log in to my Amazon account (cleverly disguised user name surfergrrrl123), buy a bunch of peroxide and acetone, build myself a heckuva bomb in the garage of 1313 Mockingbird Ln (an abandoned house - not my address - Ha - Catch me now!), and then drive the 13.6 miles from my house to the CIA building in Birmingham to blow it up.

That way, those less cautious than I am will remain safe.

Re:some people are stupid... (1)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810135)

build myself a heckuva bomb in the garage of 1313 Mockingbird Ln (an abandoned house - not my address - Ha - Catch me now!)

Yeah, well wait until you're sitting there building it and a guy who looks like Frankenstein's Monster shows up and throws a tantrum. You'll run away so fast it looks like a recording of you was sped up!

Re:some people are stupid... (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810101)

And people on facebook thought i was joking when I said my interests are: "Giving away personal data to the NSA."

interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29808291)

In-Q-Tel
Al-Q-Ida
C-I-A
this is going to be fun!

Re:interesting (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809287)

Bin Laden was, though, a product of a monumental miscalculation by western security agencies. Throughout the 80s he was armed by the CIA and funded by the Saudis to wage jihad against the Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Al-Qaida, literally "the database", was originally the computer file of the thousands of mujahideen who were recruited and trained with help from the CIA to defeat the Russians.

Robin Cook [guardian.co.uk] in the Guardian.

positive or negative, mixed or neutral based on..? (1)

Smegly (1607157) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808301)

> "...labeling it as positive or negative, mixed or neutral." Positive or negative based on who's point of view? How would they rate something like this: "The last president sucked big time - and he's a stooge for oil barons!"

Re:positive or negative, mixed or neutral based on (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808437)

Don't you worry about the labeling - as soon as you post something that has keywords like "terrorism" you will be^H^H^H^H^HCARRIER LOST

Re:positive or negative, mixed or neutral based on (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808511)

Terrorism is bad.
Terrorism is bad.

Hmm.

TERRORISM is bad.

Nope, must've been your connection. Doesn't seem like there's anything wrong with terrorism afteCARRIER LOST

Re:positive or negative, mixed or neutral based on (1)

Sebilrazen (870600) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809177)

I disagree. Those whom we would label terrorist are the least likely to label what they are doing terrorism. They likely consider it duty or calling. If you want to use generalizations, clichés and stereotypes they may view it as a jihad.

I imagine a post would go something like:

<Deity/> himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of <Deity/>. Here they are poor and miserable sinners; there they will be rich and happy. Let none hesitate; they must march next summer. <Deity/> wills it!

Re:positive or negative, mixed or neutral based on (1)

zoloto (586738) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809849)

You do realize with this statement alone you could be considered a subversive act. --just sayin

(now let me check that Post Anonymously button)

Re:positive or negative, mixed or neutral based on (2, Informative)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810191)

I imagine a post would go something like:

[Deity/] himself will lead them, for they will be doing His work. There will be absolution and remission of sins for all who die in the service of [Deity/]. Here they are poor and miserable sinners; there they will be rich and happy. Let none hesitate; they must march next summer. [Deity/] wills it!

And for 100 extra points, which Catholic pope of the 1100s said that to whip up support for a Crusade? Fanaticism isn't restricted to Islam, you know...

Halfasec, there's a knock on my do..

Re:positive or negative, mixed or neutral based on (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808837)

How would they rate something like this: "The last president sucked big time - and he's a stooge for oil barons!"

They wouldn't rate it at all. As soon as their filters hit "The last president sucked...", the signal to noise ratio will fall to zero and they'll abandon the Tweet.

forget privacy, it's a waste of money (5, Funny)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808323)

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 determine who really matters,' as Cahill puts it.)

Seems like a redundant effort. Why not just check the author's karma on slashdot?

Surely my high slashdot karma means I'm one of the most influential people on the internet... right? Right?

Re:forget privacy, it's a waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29808665)

So by implication you are saying that I am unimportant?! I think that if you look at Slashdot history you will find that I, the Anonymous Coward, have had many more posts than you have.

Re:forget privacy, it's a waste of money (1)

sopssa (1498795) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808853)

So by implication you are saying that I am unimportant?! I think that if you look at Slashdot history you will find that I, the Anonymous Coward, have had many more posts than you have.

If I ever see you, Anonymous Coward, in the street, I'm gonna hit you in the face for all the crap quality posts on Slashdot. You better change your name now, because you are EXPOSED!

Re:forget privacy, it's a waste of money (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809365)

Yes, AC, but classifying you as 'positive', 'negative', or 'neutral' has baffled even our most proficient data mining experts here in Langley. That's why we had to contract out. One of my direct reports came to me the other day near tears:

"Sir, we just can't figure him out! One day he's writing insightful commentary with informative links correcting somebody who had made a simple mistake. The next day he was making harmless snarky jokes. And this morning he posted a long list of instructions on... On... On 'owning a nigger' sir. Either Anonymous Coward is completely insane, or facing a massive conspiracy."

Re:forget privacy, it's a waste of money (5, Funny)

AJWM (19027) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808779)

Surely my high slashdot karma means I'm one of the most influential people on the internet... right?

Well, it would, but your user number has too many digits.

Re:forget privacy, it's a waste of money (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809023)

By that standard, CmdrTaco is more influential than Bruce Perens or Wil Wheaton.

Re:forget privacy, it's a waste of money (2, Insightful)

zoloto (586738) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809881)

Considering he's created this site to foster tech-specific talk over 10 years ago instead of releasing press releases or blog with anecdotal chatter...

Re:forget privacy, it's a waste of money (3, Funny)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809529)

Well, it would, but your user number has too many digits.

Eh, you can't really blame him - some of us held out for a long time, thinking the Internet would always be anonymous. But then they made it so you didn't have to preview if you were logged in...

In-Q-Tel? (1)

mujadaddy (1238164) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808381)

I have about a hundred of their Box Car Willie records!

...and they probably have about a thousand of mine! /rimshot

Now would be a good time for goatse (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29808457)

Since they mention online forums, I would assume they are data mining slashdot as well.

I say we dedicate one story to flood goatse redirects in the comments.

That'll spice up their database.

Heh (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29808481)

In the New Amerika Data Mines You....

This makes perfect sense (0)

kpainter (901021) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808561)

Without this new capability, this little gem would have went by completely unnoticed on Facebook:
"Achmed sent Bob a suicide bomb".
When they looked at Achmed's profile, it said on the front page:
"Achmed joined Al Qaida".
Ah-ha! Gotcha

Why is this considered an YRO issue? (3, Interesting)

Drummergeek0 (1513771) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808593)

This is data that people freely post to be read by all anyway. All this seems to do is aggregate it. If you post it in a public forum, you shouldn't care who uses it or how. Unless the sites being scraped have policies against said scraping, who cares? I see it as a very valuable tool for sales departments.

Besides, I am sure the signal to noise ratio for this system is incredibly low, so one has to wonder how much usable information is retrieved.

The only problem I have with this is that my tax dollars are going to fund it.

Re:Why is this considered an YRO issue? (1)

MBC1977 (978793) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808955)

"This is data that people freely post to be read by all anyway. All this seems to do is aggregate it. If you post it in a public forum, you shouldn't care who uses it or how."

Because individualized personality profiles can be built of off seemingly innocuous data.

Re:Why is this considered an YRO issue? (1, Troll)

Drummergeek0 (1513771) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809171)

Because individualized personality profiles can be built of off seemingly innocuous data.

Sure they can, but unless you are posting information you don't want people to know or are trolling, why do you care. The same goes for talking to people in person. If you make speeches or comments regularly at a town hall meeting or a similar function, eventually the people in attendance will begin to know how you think and what your personality is. And that information will get to the people/organizations that the statements are about. I think something like this will help weed out the more clever trolls, and help make useful information more influential. Unless the CIA starts rolling out death/silencing squads I don't see any issue.

Like I said I think the only real issue is that my tax dollars are going to fund it.

Re:Why is this considered an YRO issue? (2, Insightful)

idontgno (624372) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809017)

Reading publicly-posted comments is not a problem. At least, not to me. (I do know some thickies that are shocked, SHOCKED, that someone besides their BFFs can read their social networking crap.) Anyways, sure, public posting is public. Even lolcat knows that.

But agencies of state power reading, aggregating, correlating, and scoring... drawing secret conclusions based on hidden agendas and closed criteria... that's disturbing. Shades of J. Edgar Hoover's secret file cabinet and COINTELPRO and the basement of Stasi HQ.

This sounds naive, but on principle this should be opt-in only. If this were for marketing purposes, it certainly would be. But for stuff which actually matters (life, liberty, et al.), it's beginning to look like non-participation is the only opt-out. And the chilling effect is as effective as any active anti-dissent measure.

Re:Why is this considered an YRO issue? (1)

Drummergeek0 (1513771) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809265)

This sounds naive, but on principle this should be opt-in only. If this were for marketing purposes, it certainly would be. But for stuff which actually matters (life, liberty, et al.), it's beginning to look like non-participation is the only opt-out. And the chilling effect is as effective as any active anti-dissent measure.

How is that different from the real world (as in not online)? Why should there be any difference between online participation and real world participation. If you disagree with something or have suggestions on how to better run something, how is this different than participating by writing and editorial, attending a protest/picket line, or simply attending an organizational meeting with similar interests?

Re:Why is this considered an YRO issue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29809467)


This is data that people freely post to be read by all anyway

Hello Tony, how is Logan going? Oh also, let me offer you the best earplugs, at the most affordable price! Remember ear damage is not generally not recoverable.

Re:Why is this considered an YRO issue? (1)

Drummergeek0 (1513771) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809781)

Remember ear damage is not generally not recoverable.

So it is recoverable?

You just proved my point though. I do not want to hide my information and I freely make it available. While my posts and other information could be used for nefarious purposes, it doesn't need to be aggregated for that, at the same time if my data is used to positive purposes such as keeping an eye on what a community is thinking to make better decisions, I am all for it. If you don't want your information used in either way don't participate.

My opinion is that your opinion is useless if you don't want to be attached to it. I fully believe that what I post is correct and wouldn't post it otherwise, so I have no problem with you knowing who I am. That is why my email address is next to user name.

Motivation? (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808641)

How much are they really going to get from Web 2.0? Where the best party is on frat row? What Joe Blow's opinion is on policy x vs. policy y? Grandma's photo of Fluffy? I would imagine those truly interested in acts of Federal Offense would avoid large, preexisting cross-linked networks like this. If anything, motivation is more towards being a Surveillance State, or to catch some technologically ignorant people doing really bad things.

Re:Motivation? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808843)

There are three kinds of people who would use social networking sites to "do very bad things".

1: idiots, there are a lot of them.
2: those seeking to hide in the crowd.
3: those seeking to take advantage of 1.

Re:Motivation? (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809465)

How much are they really going to get from Web 2.0?

You'd be shocked. There's still this attitude by lots of people that what happens on the internet stays on the internet. Our local probation department routinely violates people based on facebook photos of them:
-In places they've been tresspassed from
-Consuming alcohol (if it's a condition of probation)
-Pointing guns at each other
-Being around children (sex offenders)
-Driving (Habitual Traffic Offenders)

Of course, the photos could be old, or (theoretically) doctored. However, like any other evidence, they have to be put before a judge, who determines if they are likely to be incriminating. (Probation violations require a judge's decision in our state, as opposed to parole violations, which do not).

That's kind of the basic step -- get in and monito (1)

negrace (984807) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808655)

>> That's kind of the basic step -- get in and monitor, 1. Get in and monitor, 2. ??? 3. Profit!!!

Information... (1)

stoicfaux (466273) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808695)

Information wants to be free...

Re:Information... (0)

krou (1027572) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808997)

No, it doesn't.

Institutions want your information to be free for them to own.

Re:Information... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810699)

It's a joke. Every story about the RIAA and/or copyright always has one "information wants to be free" comment and/or sig.

I feel sorry for the crawler (3, Funny)

Interoperable (1651953) | more than 3 years ago | (#29808721)

The crawler is going to get seriously depressed if it crawls YouTube conversations.

Re:I feel sorry for the crawler (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809541)

I agree. If ever there was a computer likely to become sentient and decide that the human race should not continue, it's this one...

Re:I feel sorry for the crawler (1)

jamstar7 (694492) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810299)

The crawler is going to get seriously depressed if it crawls YouTube conversations.

I'm just wondering what they'll do when it hits 4chan. Do they block that, or do they send all that to the FBI & let them wade thru the pedobear posts?

Datamining Social Media (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29808789)

There are a TON of companies that are trying to datamine social media for a variety of reasons- I'm posting anonymously because I work for a company that makes one of these products.

What is interesting is companies that make consumer products all want these tools to be able to track the companies interaction with the consumer- these companies are specifically replying back to specific posters in order to stop the spread of what they call "misinformation", but in actuality is just anything where the company is painted in a bad light. Let me be clear: Corporate America wants to control everything that is said online, and the tools to do it are starting to show up. Companies are starting to employ people whose soul job is to look at social media and respond to negative comments.

I predict not far in the future there is going to be a push for owners of social media sites to have some control over who can index their content.

Re:Datamining Social Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29809331)

A soul job? Sounds groovy.
Also, nice captcha: http://images.slashdot.org/hc/37/128abad84197.mp3

Re:Datamining Social Media (1)

AdamInParadise (257888) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809607)

I like to use my blog to rant about unusable products and deceptive practices. Once I got a call from someone working for a large online retailer regarding a post where I labelled one of their practices as a "fraud". Technically it wasn't because the issue was not settled by a court (but another similar company was condemned for a very similar practice). He was very business-like but a bit pushy, so I googled his name. Turns out that he's basically in charge of responding to all the online criticism aimed at his company (a busy job). However, he really seemed to have to power to solve the issues faced by the complainers (misdeliveries, lateness...) so I guess that makes him "one of the good guys." Of course the very existence of such a position shows that the company is not doing a perfect job at handling customer complaints through standard channels (unlike, say, Amazon). Nevertheless, he was very upfront upon the fact that his job was to maintain the online reputation of his firm. If you do not complain online, well, he's not going to help you and you will be stuck with your problem.

Now, of course, I would totally buy from this retailer again because if I had an problem, I could since call this guy (his number is everywhere) and have it solved quickly.

I guess that my point is that it's hard to tell whether your technology will help us or enslave us.

Re:Datamining Social Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29809697)

Technology is always a double edged sword. Sometimes one edge is sharper or duller than the other, but there are always two of them regardless.

That said, who can you trust with the technology?

Re:Datamining Social Media (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810507)

"Corporate America wants to control everything that is said online, and the tools to do it are starting to show up. Companies are starting to employ people whose soul job is to look at social media and respond to negative comments. "

So they are catching up to Political America...

Re:Datamining Social Media (1)

astar (203020) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810605)

I have thought a bit about control of information, not just corporate control.

Google is developing a firefox plug-in for adding additional information to established web sites by viewers. "Helpful comments". Well, that is google.

I seem to recall this was done in a less restricted way perhaps five years ago by someone, it went through some courts and was considered legal, basically because it was a user choice to install the plug-in. Probably got the story from slashdot.

Writing a fire-fox plug-in is not in my skill set, but I favor this idea. For requirements, I would start with

1) user can chose his hosting server
2) anonymous
3) user moderated, perhaps with a slashdot model, since that is all I am really familiar with.

The plug-in would on request show a random comment, with a bias on how recent the comment was and moderation state.

Might actually become widely used. I am sure the Obama people would like to post anonymous comments on the fox web site. :)

Running a popular server might even be profitable.

I would be interested in comments on this idea, particularly requirements comments.

Our duty as citizens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29809203)

Since the fact that Big Brother is invested in this company Visible Technologies is known to us, isn't it our duty as citizens to actively try to thwart this service? Shouldn't we all be trying to knock it offline, or somehow prevent them from gathering data?

I don't see why we just let them exist and operate.

Is it an investment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29809255)

If you can take what you learn and pull out the most embarrassing things and use it to blackmail prominent people?

It doesn't touch closed social networks . . . (2, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809311)

(It doesn't touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment.)

More like, they're not admitting touching them . . . at the moment.

Domestic spying? (1)

codepigeon (1202896) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809643)

I thought the CIA wasn't allowed to do domestic intelligence?

Re:Domestic spying? (4, Informative)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 3 years ago | (#29809813)

I thought the CIA wasn't allowed to do domestic intelligence?

They're not, but do you think that's going to be a serious impediment to them doing so anyway? First off, they're going to be trying really hard to keep their intelligence gathering a secret, so you probably won't know that they're doing it in the first place. Secondly, even if you did find out about it, what are you going to do? Sue? They'll claim state-secrets privilege within a couple minutes of you filing your complaint. Now you can't do discovery, and there goes your case.

Point being, "allowed to" is a complete non-issue here. They're going to do what they want, when they want, and there's not a damn thing you can do about it.

Re:Domestic spying? (1, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#29810849)

The CIA isn't. Some private company is doing it :).

If that's not good enough, I'm sure they can always make some vaguely legal request to the private company to ask another private company/organisation and so on to do the dirty work.

The benefits of outsourcing.

That's why I find it hilarious when the fanatics keep saying small government will be better than big government.

If you really think a small government that outsources all the dirty work to private corporations will be better, you're a fool.

The real problem is quality not quantity. Poor regulation, by the regulators AND by the voters.

Most people don't seem to realize that. I suppose the problem there again is quality and not quantity either... But quantity wins in democracies - and still the ignorant wonder why those in power refuse to educate properly the people who keep voting them back in...

Hey Visible Technologies: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810061)

If you're scraping this, then this is a false comment.

Facebook & CIA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810185)

"It doesn't touch closed social networks, like Facebook, at the moment"

Hahaha! You do realize that the CIA is an investor in Facebook, right? Of course they mine that!

Which country would not do this? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#29810263)

Cuba?

Venezuela?

China?

Germany, whose secret police is legendary? (wikipedia: "the case was thrown out in 2003 after it was discovered that a number of the NPD's inner circle were in fact undercover agents or informants of the German secret services, like the federal Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz.")

The UK?

The EU as a whole?

Face it - surveillance fits the goal whatever your goals are, as long as those goals aren't SOLELY AND NOTHING BUT "no surveillance"

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