CIA using Social Media & Internet
15 April, 2013
By Zaheerul Hassan
Explosive growth of internet introduction of social media as medium of information over the last decade has continued to defy imagination. Internet World Stats have estimated 2,405,510,175 internet users worldwide till June 30, 2012. This represented about 34.3% of the population worldwide. Out of which Asia is leading with 1,076,681,059 (44.8% of internet users worldwide), followed by Europe: 18,512,109 (21.5%), North America: 273,785,413 (11.4%), Latin America / Caribbean: 254,915,884 (10.6%), Africa: 167,335,676 (7.0%), Middle East: 90,000,455 (3.7%) and Oceania / Australia: 24,279,579 (1.0%). In fact IT through Internet media has played a decisive role in globalization.
The deep dug and long held dominance of other info-mediums like Newspapers, Television and Radio etc today faces a serious challenge from this new and glamorous rival which is fast becoming the medium of choice for digitally oriented and choice driven new generation. Its inherent / inbuilt traits like diversity of info available and flexibility of usage, present unbeatable options to work with.
When it comes to shaping public opinion, internet has been the new trailblazer. The predominant role it played in the ongoing Arab-spring being one stunning example where novel use of social media tool like Twitter and Facebook turned the tables against tyrannical regimes with in short span of months. It has become ingredient of daily life amongst internet users. Currently, in Pakistan over 3.7 million individuals are using Face book and more than 3 million share ideas through Twitters. Interestingly, almost whole intellectual community is using social media net work for sharing ideas, generating debates and exchanging news. Notably, 67% social media users are youngsters. CIA has used social media in building opinion against Egypt and Syrian rulers.
As per Google and Booz & Co. surveyed internet users between the ages of 15 and 35 (an age range believed to make up 40% of the population) in Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Jordan, Algeria and Lebanon. The results showed a digitally engaged population with room to bring technology further into their lives and society. Therefore, US intelligence agencies have penetrated in masses of Middle East and North African countries. The agencies have taken steps to attract more young generation in the internet circles. In this regards CIA has hired the services of Psychological for lunching propaganda campaign against China, Russia and Pakistan.
Reportedly, the US Intelligence community is working on multiple projects to exploit all possible sources of open intelligence through such venues. US is hiring media houses, offer free IT related courses in U.S. to the owners of Face Book pages and websites. U.S IS also funding IT projects through NGOs all over the world.
In this connection, CIA has contracted with a Company In-Q-Tel (IQT); to monitor blogs and tweets. The IQT is working with a software firm "Visible Technologies" that specializes in monitoring social media. The "Visible" penetrate thousands of websites each day, to snoop more than a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flicker, Youtube, Twitter and amazon. The company scores each post, label it as positive or negative, mixed or neutral. It examines haw influential is a conversation or an author (to determine who really matters).
The company tracks foreign social media, and gives early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally. It is already tabbing websites for Dell, AT&T and verizon; working to boost foreign languages capabilities, which already include Arabic, French, Spanish and nine other languages.
The "Visible" has been working with US Strategic command and the Joint Chiefs of Staff since 2008. It is now recruiting "Social media engagement specialists" with Defense Department experience and a high proficiency in Arabic, Farsi, French, Udru or Russian.
The IQT has also signed agreement with another company Delphix to support US Intelligence Community. The agreement will enable Delphix to develop database management and virtualization solutions that will assist the US Intelligence Community in improving data access and availability.
As per reports the US Air Force had recently solicited private sector vendors for "persona management software." The technology would allow single individuals to command virtual armies of fake, digital "people" across numerous social media portals. These "persons" will have detailed, factionalized backgrounds, to make them believable to outside observers, and a sophisticated identity protection service will be available for back up. The methods are also being worked out to game geo-locating services, so these "personas" could be virtually inserted anywhere in the world, providing ostensibly live commentary on real events.
These fake users could be used to help create the impression of consensus opinion in online comment threads, or manipulate social media to the point where undesirable stories are suppressed. Ultimately, this can have the effect of changing public opinion and perception management in the favour of U.S.
Pakistan is confronted with Internal Security dilemma in the form of Terrorism. The divisions of society on sectarian, religious and ethnic lines pose a threat to our security and are breeding ground for terrorism acts. Weak economy, high inflation, unemployment, high rate of population growth, low literacy level and poor health care are permanent irritants. Especially, for the last two decades and aftermath of 9/11 tragedy, the major challenges are in the form of deteriorating law and order, ethnicity, religious extremism, sectarianism, weaponisation and economic degeneration.
Thus, CIA and other foreign intelligence agencies are exploiting the weak links of Pakistani society. For this purpose they are using modern technology to monitor the trends in target countries through Soial Media and inject information for polarization of our soicety . Pakistani government should take care of the current move of CIA. At the same time authorities should know that defeating CIA psychological campaign against Pakistan is possible while educating young genration in IT field and spreading own enriched Islamic culture on Social Media.
The writer can be approached firstname.lastname@example.org