Saturday, March 11, 2023

How Does The Government Monitor Social Media

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Department of Homeland Security to monitor social media?

The social media surveillance tools that have appeared in democracies got their start on foreign battlefields and in counterterrorism settings, designed to monitor acute security threats in places like Syria. Many US data-mining companies received seed money from the Central Intelligence Agency through its In-Q-Tel venture capital fund. While authorities in the past typically justified the use of these tools with the need to combat serious crimes such as terrorism, child sexual abuse, and large-scale narcotics trafficking, law enforcement and other agencies at the local, state, and federal levels are increasingly repurposing them for more questionable practices, such as screening travelers for their political views, tracking students behavior, or monitoring activists and protesters. This expansion makes oversight of surveillance policies more difficult and raises the risk that constitutionally protected activities will be impaired.

Are We Entering A New Era Of Social Media Regulation

The violence at the U.S. Capitol and the ensuing actions taken by social media platforms suggest that we may be at a turning point as far as how business leaders and government bodies approach social media regulation. But what exactly will this look like, and how will platforms balance supporting free speech with getting a handle on the rampant misinformation, conspiracy theories, and promotion of fringe, extremist content that contributed so significantly to last weeks riots? The author argues that the key is to understand that there are fundamental structural differences between traditional media and social media, and to adapt approaches to regulation accordingly. The author goes on to suggest several areas of both self-regulation and legislative reform that were likely to see in the coming months in response to both recent events and ongoing concerns with how social media companies operate.

After years of controversy over President Trumps use of social media to share misleading content and inflame his millions of followers, social media giants Facebook and Twitter finally took a clear stand last week, banning Trump from their platforms Facebook indefinitely, and Twitter permanently. Could this indicate a turning point in how social media companies handle potentially harmful content shared on their platforms? And could it herald a new era of social media reforms, through both government policies and self-regulation?

Politicsbiden May Have Trouble Cracking Down On Domestic Terrorism Because Of Free Speech And The Fbi

In a statement to NBC News, the FBI acknowledged that it can and does look at public social media information. An FBI official said Sanborn understood Sinema’s question to be referring to “whether the FBI persistently and passively examines internet traffic and social media conversations, to include direct messages between two users.” In fact, her question referred to comments made on public-facing social media services.

“The FBI may observe and collect information from open sources as long as the FBI activities are done for a valid law enforcement or national security purpose and in a manner that does not unduly infringe upon the speaker or author’s ability to deliver his or her message,” an FBI official said. “The authorized purpose must specifically be tied to federal criminal or national security purposes, usually to further an FBI assessment or … investigation.”

Current and former FBI officials and legal experts said Sanborn’s misstatement points to a culture of caution and confusion within the FBI about the rules of the road regarding FBI monitoring of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms. They say the bureau’s scandalous history of domestic political spying under J. Edgar Hoover has left the FBI in a defensive crouch about any appearance that it is snooping on law-abiding Americans.

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How The Government Spies On You With Collected Data

Your social media accounts and smartphones collect data about you, and that information can be used by government agencies. Here’s how and why.

When people use the internet, some information gets collected about them and used for marketing purposes. However, you might also wonder whether federal agencies could breach constitutional boundaries and spy on citizens.

Is the government spying on us? If so, what are its reasons and which techniques does it use?

Listen For Relevant Conversations

The Government May Be Watching Your Facebook  Charisma News

The first thing you should focus on as a social media manager is listening to your audience.

Why? Simple: Your audience will tell you what they want to hear.

Before you even write up that tweet or Facebook post, you need to know your audience and constituents better than they know themselves.

A lot of social media marketersprivate or publicmake the mistake of making posts before they even know what their audience wants to see from them. This results in low engagement and a very ineffective social media account.

Thats why you need to dive deep into your audience. Find out what they want. Dig into their pain points. Help solve their problems.

Also, social media can be a great opportunity for government agencies to answer any questions the public might have.

The Chicago Transit Authority does a fantastic job of this. If there are delays, construction, or route changes to the subway or bus lines, you can rest assured that the CTAs social media accounts will be ready to talk and answer questions about it.

Not only that, but they also have a team of people who read and respond to every tweet.

Well be offering a one-time credit for any remaining days left on an active 7- or 30-day pass to help ease the burden for our riders. To learn more and see if you are eligible visit . Please direct follow up questions to .


To help, check out our guide to conducting audience research.

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What Can We Do To Protect To Our Privacy

As technology gets more and more sophisticated, it is a critical time to protect privacy. It is not about putting blinders on law enforcement but rather about setting appropriate limits that protect our rights and liberties. Oregon law enforcement and policy makers should consider the following guidelines:

  • The public needs to know what government agencies use digital surveillance tools, like SMMS, and how extensive their use is. Ultimately, this comes down to transparency and accountability. Without knowing what our government is doing, we cannot ensure that our rights will be protected or that wrongdoing will be corrected.
  • The public should have an opportunity to provide input on if, when, and how surveillance tools like SMMS are used. We should understand the risks and benefits and be involved in the conversations and decision making before government starts using new technologies to watch us. If the risks are too great, particularly if innocent people are bound to get caught up in intrusive government surveillance, we should be allowed to say no, or at the very least, to set strict limits.
  • There must be clear consequences for violating surveillance rules and policies. This should include exclusion of evidence in criminal prosecutions, potential termination of anyone engaged in misconduct, fines against the offending agency, and civil rights actions.
  • We can be safe and free, and we must insist on it now.

    Who Is Being Targeted

    Everyone is potentially targeted as at some point in our lives we all interact with local authorities as we go through some of the processes listed above.

    The difference as to how will we be impacted?

    For those social media users who does not control and amend their privacy setting in a certain way, their data is potentially fair game for social media monitoring. From our research, the respect given to an individuals privacy by local authorities, in relation to what individuals say and do online, appears to be based on the arbitrary distinction of privacy settings.

    In other words, if you have applied access controls, then you have a reasonable expectation of privacy in relation to your social media posts. But if you do not apply privacy settings the data may be considered open source and overt social media monitoring can take place without any authorisation. This monitoring could be occurring without your knowledge or awareness, in a wide variety of their functions, predominantly intelligence gathering and investigations.

    Life-changing decisions could be made on the basis of this intelligence but yet no quality check on the effectiveness of this form of surveillance on decision making. This has particular consequences and a disproportionate negative impact on certain individual and communities.

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    Government Trolls Use Psychology

    Have you ever come across someone on the Internet that you suspected was a paid government troll? Well, there is a very good chance that you were not imagining things.

    Thanks to Edward Snowden, we now have solid proof that paid government trolls are using psychology-based influence techniques on social media websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Documents leaked by Snowden also reveal that government agents have been conducting denial-of-service attacks, flooding social media websites with thinly veiled propaganda, and have been purposely attempting to warp public discourse online. If we do not stand up and object to this kind of Orwellian behavior, it is only going to get worse and worse.

    In the U.K., the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group is a specialized unit within the Government Communications Headquarters . If it wasnt for Edward Snowden, we probably still would never have heard of them. This particular specialized unit is engaged in some very questionable online activities. The following is an excerpt from a recent piece

    We are told that JTRIG only uses these techniques to go after the bad guys.

    But precisely who are the bad guys?

    It turns out that their definition of who the bad guys are is quite broad. Here is more from Glenn Greenwald and Andrew Fishman

    In other words, these government trolls try to mess with peoples minds.

    You can actually watch a video news report about what is happening up in Canada right here.

    The Human Rights Problem With Social Media Monitoring

    Government monitoring immigrants and naturalized citizens on social media

    This is part one of a two-part series on the human rights impact of law enforcement tracking of social media content. Part two explores the appropriate limits and necessary human rights safeguards for this kind of surveillance.

    Government proposals to track and map the content that users publish on social media platforms are never as innocent, or as straightforward, as they appear. In recent months various politicians and pundits have increasingly called for collecting and retaining more user-generated social media content. The U.S. House of Representatives has even passed a vague but potentially far-reaching bill on tracking social media content.

    However, the talking heads are oversimplifying the issue, ignoring technical and legal realities, and failing to recognize how monitoring social media can lead to grave human rights violations.

    Below, we take a look at what social media monitoring is and what politicians are proposing. In our next post, well discuss the human-rights safeguards needed for such monitoring.

    What is social media tracking?

    On December 2, 2015, Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik murdered 14 people at an event by the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, in what has now been classified as a terrorist attack. In the aftermath, several major news outlets rushed to discuss how the attack was planned and coordinated. Not surprisingly, many aspects of these reports have since been proven false.

    Risks for personal liberty

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    The Surveillance Tool Has A Wide Mandate

    The surveillance tool will monitor individual social media users, and track overall trends on various social media platforms. It will also analyse various actives happening on social media and mark certain social media activities as problematic. It will also have to categorise actionable data, and keep track of social media influencers. Other functions include:

    Language: Its Just Natural

    Using these methods is just the beginning. Advanced computer technology has gifted major world governments with incredibly surveillance capabilities. For some time now there have been systems that can listen to the millions of phone calls that are going on at any time and catch specific hot words. So if someone says anything that might be associated with terrorist activity, that call can be flagged and reviewed by a human. Thats one of the reasons some governments have lamented powerful encryption in the hands of the citizenry. Using VOIP with end-to-end encryption, as one example, makes it almost impossible for anyone to listen in.

    Of course, encryption is no issue when you are openly having conversations with people on social media. So similar natural language technology can analyze everything being said on places like Twitter and Facebook, flagging suspicious activity as soon as it happens. Flagging by the machine doesnt take long, its the review by people and the decision on whether action should be taken that uses up time. Of course, who knows how long it will be before machine systems will make those choices as well?

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    Surveillance As An Aid To Censorship

    Surveillance and censorship are different. Surveillance can be performed without censorship, but it is harder to engage in censorship without some forms of surveillance. And even when surveillance does not lead directly to censorship, the widespread knowledge or belief that a person, their computer, or their use of the Internet is under surveillance can lead to self-censorship.

    In March 2013 Reporters Without Borders issued a Special report on Internet surveillance that examines the use of technology that monitors online activity and intercepts electronic communication in order to arrest journalists, citizen-journalists, and dissidents. The report includes a list of “State Enemies of the Internet”, Bahrain, China, Iran, Syria, and Vietnam, countries whose governments are involved in active, intrusive surveillance of news providers, resulting in grave violations of freedom of information and human rights. Computer and network surveillance is on the increase in these countries. The report also includes a second list of “Corporate Enemies of the Internet”, Amesys , Blue Coat Systems , Gamma , Hacking Team , and Trovicor , companies that sell products that are liable to be used by governments to violate human rights and freedom of information. Neither list is exhaustive and they are likely to be expanded in the future.

    Why Is The Us Government Using Social Media To Monitor The Public

    Social Media Monitoring: How to Achieve your Objectives

    A series of recent reportsbased on documents obtained from Freedom of Information Act filings and other leaked informationhave revealed that the Department of Homeland Security is violating the First Amendment right to free speech and assembly by gathering social media data for surveillance purposes and targeting organizations and individuals for harassment, intimidation, deportation and arrest.

    Among the facts revealed by these reports are:

    • DHS is using increasingly sophisticated methods for collecting and analyzing social media data to monitor political protests and demonstrations against US government policies.
    • These methods are being used to target left-wing and oppositional political organizations and individuals in the name of national security and public safety.
    • DHS is working with private security firms to scrape individual social media information including profile photographs, organizational affiliations, event activity and page roles.
    • Once individuals and organizations have been targeted by DHS through their social media activity, their identities and dossiers are merged with other big data resources of the surveillance state including those of the Departments of Justice, State, Defense and the CIA.

    ICEsAnti-Trump Spreadsheet

    CBPsSan Diegotargetlist

    Social media intel from private security firms

    Brennan Center report on social media monitoring

    Among the key findings of this important report are:

    Third-party data mining tools

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    000 Tweets Monitored Per Day

    According to a report by the Associated Press , the Central Intelligence Agency is monitoring up to five million tweets a day. This report however is a mix of purposefully vague statements and actual facts. The Center is said to be located in an anonymous industri- al park somewhere in a location that the AP agreed not to reveal, and staffed by several hundred analysts. Actual facts include that the center started looking at social media in 2009, and has been used for purposes as military intelligence, social and polit- ical prediction and tracking the international reaction to President Obamas policy speeches.

    So where is the downside of all this monitoring? Where is our privacy actually affected? In the following I want to present an example where I personally believe the government has gone alarmingly too far with Twitter monitoring.

    What Are The Risks

    This type of government surveillance raises many privacy concerns. Rather than accepting its use by law enforcement as our inevitable future, we should consider the serious implications for our society.

    Silencing discourse. It should give us great pause to hear that SMMS is being used to politically profile, track, and target innocent people who express political opinions online. People like Erious Johnson, director of civil rights at the Oregon Department of Justice, and who knows how many more.

    A recent study revealed what really happens when we know we are being constantly watched voices are silenced. Professor Elizabeth Stoycheff of Wayne State University has shown that people who support surveillance and say they have nothing to hide are actually the most likely to avoid sharing unpopular opinions when they know government is watching. We lose the ability to discuss ideas openly when we fear we will be punished for them.

    Even innocent people who know they are being watched are intimidated into self-censorship. Yet robust public conversations and debates about controversial and difficult topics make us stronger as a nation. That is exactly why our founders enshrined strong protections for a broad marketplace of ideas in the First Amendment.

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