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Re: [CT] US/SECURITY - AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook

Released on 2012-09-16 00:00 GMT

Email-ID 772018
Date 2011-11-04 18:47:03
From [email protected]
To [email protected]
List-Name [email protected]
3 things
1. Their job is very very similar to ours with better resources and
different requirements
2. Note how they use, caveat, and compare their monitoring of social media
3. There is no organized monitoring of US domestic social media


From: "Ryan Abbey" <[email protected]>
To: "CT AOR" <[email protected]>
Sent: Friday, November 4, 2011 9:48:12 AM
Subject: [CT] US/SECURITY - AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook

Have suspected this, but provides an idea of the scope of the

CIA Open Source Center in charge of following these social websites. Used
to provide a quick sweep of reaction to world events. Have several
hundred analysts. Follow about 5 million tweets a day. The listed
examples were to the death of UBL, social responses to Obama's Middle East
speech. Started to use this media after the Green Revo. in Iran and how
Twitter impacted that. Thought that they would have started monitoring
these sites in a systematic way before that.

AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook

AP Intelligence Writer

Quantcast Quantcast

McLEAN, Va. (AP) -- In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, in an unassuming brick building, the CIA is following
tweets - up to 5 million a day.

At the agency's Open Source Center, a team known affectionately as the "vengeful librarians" also pores over Facebook,
newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms - anything overseas that anyone can access and
contribute to openly.

From Arabic to Mandarin Chinese, from an angry tweet to a thoughtful blog, the analysts gather the information, often in
native tongue. They cross-reference it with the local newspaper or a clandestinely intercepted phone conversation. From
there, they build a picture sought by the highest levels at the White House, giving a real-time peek, for example, at the
mood of a region after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden or perhaps a prediction of which Mideast nation
seems ripe for revolt.

Yes, they saw the uprising in Egypt coming; they just didn't know exactly when revolution might hit, said the center's
director, Doug Naquin.

The center already had "predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the
regime," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press at the center. CIA officials said it was the first such
visit by a reporter the agency has ever granted.

The CIA facility was set up in response to a recommendation by the 9/11 Commission, with its first priority to focus on
counterterrorism and counterproliferation. But its several hundred analysts - the actual number is classified - track a
broad range, from Chinese Internet access to the mood on the street in Pakistan.

While most are based in Virginia, the analysts also are scattered throughout U.S. embassies worldwide to get a step closer
to the pulse of their subjects.

The most successful analysts, Naquin said, are something like the heroine of the crime novel "The Girl With the Dragon
Tattoo," a quirky, irreverent computer hacker who "knows how to find stuff other people don't know exists."

Those with a masters' degree in library science and multiple languages, especially those who grew up speaking another
language, "make a powerful open source officer," Naquin said.

The center had started focusing on social media after watching the Twitter-sphere rock the Iranian regime during the Green
Revolution of 2009, when thousands protested the results of the elections that put Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
back in power. "Farsi was the third largest presence in social media blogs at the time on the Web," Naquin said.

The center's analysis ends up in President Barack Obama's daily intelligence briefing in one form or another, almost every

After bin Laden was killed in Pakistan in May, the CIA followed Twitter to give the White House a snapshot of world public

Since tweets can't necessarily be pegged to a geographic location, the analysts broke down reaction by languages. The
result: The majority of Urdu tweets, the language of Pakistan, and Chinese tweets, were negative. China is a close ally of
Pakistan's. Pakistani officials protested the raid as an affront to their nation's sovereignty, a sore point that
continues to complicate U.S.-Pakistani relations.

When the president gave his speech addressing Mideast issues a few weeks after the raid, the tweet response over the next
24 hours came in negative from Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, the Persian Gulf and Israel, too, with speakers of Arabic
and Turkic tweets charging that Obama favored Israel, and Hebrew tweets denouncing the speech as pro-Arab.

In the next few days, major news media came to the same conclusion, as did analysis by the covert side of U.S.
intelligence based on intercepts and human intelligence gathered in the region.

The center is also in the process of comparing its social media results with the track record of polling organizations,
trying to see which produces more accurate results, Naquin said.

"We do what we can to caveat that we may be getting an overrepresentation of the urban elite," said Naquin, acknowledging
that only a small slice of the population in many areas they are monitoring has access to computers and Internet. But he
points out that access to social media sites via cellphones is growing in areas like Africa, meaning a "wider portion of
the population than you might expect is sounding off and holding forth than it might appear if you count the Internet
hookups in a given country."

Sites like Facebook and Twitter also have become a key resource for following a fast-moving crisis such as the riots that
raged across Bangkok in April and May of last year, the center's deputy director said. The Associated Press agreed not to
identify him because he sometimes still works undercover in foreign countries.

As director, Naquin is identified publicly by the agency although the location of the center is kept secret to deter
attacks, whether physical or electronic.

The deputy director was one of a skeleton crew of 20 U.S. government employees who kept the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok
running throughout the rioting as protesters surged through the streets, swarming the embassy neighborhood and trapping
U.S. diplomats and Thais alike in their homes.

The army moved in, and traditional media reporting slowed to a trickle as local reporters were either trapped or cowed by
government forces.

"But within an hour, it was all surging out on Twitter and Facebook," the deputy director said. The CIA homed in on 12 to
15 users who tweeted situation reports and cellphone photos of demonstrations. The CIA staff cross-referenced the tweeters
with the limited news reports to figure out who among them was providing reliable information. Tweeters also policed
themselves, pointing out when someone else had filed an inaccurate account.

"That helped us narrow down to those dozen we could count on," he said.

Ultimately, some two-thirds of the reports coming out of the embassy being sent back to all branches of government in
Washington came from the CIA's open source analysis throughout the crisis.

CIA eyes 5 million tweets a day

By TIM MAK | 11/4/11 9:26 AM EDT

The Central Intelligence Agency is systematically monitoring Twitter,
following up to 5 million tweets a day, according to a new report.

The CIAa**s Open Source Center reviews and analyzes information widely
available to the general public, including Twitter and Facebook, and keeps
eyes on everything from blogs to tweets to more traditional media, the
Associated Press says in a feature article on the unit.

Analysts monitor information in a wide array of languages and
cross-reference it to existing intelligence, and are often called upon to
provide information on the mood of a region after a foreign policy event.

For example, the Open Source Center built a picture of the real-time
reaction from the Middle East after the killing of Osama bin Laden in May
to give the White House an idea of public opinion.

When President Barack Obama gave a speech addressing Middle Eastern issues
a few weeks later, the center monitored negative Arabic and Turkic tweets
denouncing the president as too pro-Israel, and Hebrew tweets criticizing
the president for being too pro-Arab.

The centera**s of analysis ends up in Obamaa**s daily intelligence
briefing in some form almost every day, reports the AP.

The CIA started reviewing social media after watching Twittera**s
influence during the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran, when thousands
protested the contested results of an election that kept Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in office.

Read more:

Ryan Abbey
Tactical Intern

Sean Noonan
Tactical Analyst
Office: +1 512-279-9479
Mobile: +1 512-758-5967
Strategic Forecasting, Inc.