Is CIA snooping on social media overseas?

Will the CIA be spying on social media? That’s the question that CNET News is raising after learning that the Central Intelligence Agency‘s not-for-profit investment arm In-Q-Tel has forged a “strategic partnership” with Visible Technologies, a company that “monitors online social activity and packages the findings for clients.”

CNET News believes that In-Q-Tel is interested in accessing Visible Technologies’ ability to provide clients “with actionable insight into social-media conversations,” meaning the monitoring of social media overseas. In-Q-Tel spokesman Donald Tighe told Wired that the organization would use the services to provide “early-warning detection on how issues are playing internationally.”

According to Wired, 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.”

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