Recently, information has been disclosed concerning the CIA’s endeavors in following online activity from Facebook messages and Internet chat rooms to tweets. As a result, people are throwing a fit about it, which I find very surprising.
Was it really a secret that the CIA monitors all activity, including the ever-growing social media, to gather information? Information one posts online, in most cases, is essentially in the public domain, and it is easy to understand why the government would look for any edge they can find when it comes to terrorists, possible attacks and growing protest movements.
The CIA is utilizing social media sites like Twitter and Facebook to evaluate the moods of different regions. An example of what the CIA has recently done is successfully predicted the Egyptian Revolution and raised warning flags for the administration. They also routinely convey to President Barack Obama how his policies are being perceived abroad.
This team is looking for signs of unrest and possible terrorist attacks in order to counter-attack or prepare for these types of occurrences. They are not dissecting every meaning of your daily tweets, taking note of your search history or printing out your Facebook message conversations for distribution.
The only people who should really be concerned about this operation are those involved in criminal activities. If this does not describe you (which I hope is the case), then you are not suspect and therefore have nothing to worry about.
Yet people continue to whine and complain. Some say that even though the CIA spends millions of dollars and hours spying on its citizens and those overseas, huge and horrific events like 9/11 still occur. These critics have labeled the CIA as an ineffective and useless program.
However, the CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation, and has since improved. This is evident in the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden, which would not have been possible without the CIA’s help.
Besides, if they did stop scanning social media, it would take away a large sum of the information they gather. Then if something did happen, we would all blame them for not catching the obvious. Either way, the CIA is always going to have critics. Personally, I value the security of my life, my family and my country too seriously to care if someone looks through my Facebook posts.
Another outcry from citizens is that it is a violation of our freedom. Yes, the CIA does have access to what we post on the web – like many other people do, seeing as the Internet has never been a secure place to share information – but they are using it as a means of evaluation and protection. They are not employing their ability to access information as a resource of persecution or control. And it is not heading in that direction, either.
I personally have posted on the web and had newspaper articles published many times on Facebook about government activity that I do not agree with, and nobody has come knocking at my door. The absurd uproar that our freedom as citizens has diminished is ridiculous. We, as U.S. citizens, reserve the right to say, support and protest whatever we would like to. That is a privilege that is not granted everywhere else in the world, and it is time we realized how lucky we are to live in the country that we do.
Nonetheless, if you still remain unsettled by the CIA’s latest tactics, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is working to set up rules for pulling information from social media sites without infringing on U.S. citizens'privacy.
Try to remember that the CIA is not looking to control us, but is simply trying to do its job as an agency responsible for collecting and coordinating intelligence activities abroad in the national interest. So take the complaints and paranoia elsewhere and thank the CIA instead for their hard work.