Federal Agents Urged to 'Friend' People on Social Networks, Memo Reveals
Published October 14, 2010
A privacy watchdog has uncovered a government memo that encourages federal agents to befriend people on a variety of social networks, to take advantage of their readiness to share -- and to spy on them. In response to a Freedom of Information request, the government released a handful of documents, including a May 2008 memo detailing how social-networking sites are exploited by the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS).
According to the EFF, this memo -- which specifically details how the government evaluates potential citizen requests -- suggests there's nothing to prevent an exaggerated, harmless or even out-of-date offhand comment in a status update from quickly becoming the subject of a full investigation.
Among the networks specifically cited for analysis "were general social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Flickr, as well as sites that focus specifically on certain demographic groups such as MiGente and BlackPlanet, news sites such as NPR, and political commentary sites DailyKos," the EFF wrote.