FBI wants help developing a tool to monitor social media

People like to share everything on social media, and that apparently includes the crimes they commit. The Guardian reports that because of our love of sharing, the FBI is working on building a tool that will allow them to monitor sites like Twitter and Facebook more effectively in order to help fight crime.

By decoding the publically posted social media messages -- “clapped him off the surfboard” is code for shooting the opposition, for example -- law enforcement is able to identify criminals. According to the report, the FBI recently arrested over “40 members of two feuding New York gangs,” and social media was a big part of the process.

Overall, the tool that the FBI is hoping to build doesn’t sound very ominous. It includes requests for automated searches of not only social media but also legitimate news sources like Fox News and CNN, automated alerting when certain conditions are met, and mapping capability that includes not only terrorist information but also weather, embassy, traffic, and the like.

If you’re interested in knowing more, the FBI has posted a 12 page Request for Information (RFI) detailing all of the requirements of the requested system.

Image Courtesy of kenburbary.com

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48 Comments

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I really don't want to live in a society where people are stupid enough to post about their criminal activities online. The FBI and other agencies are already listening to our phone calls, and reading our text messages, so why shouldn't they do the same thing with our social media sites?

bgjerlow said,
I really don't want to live in a society where people are stupid enough to post about their criminal activities online. The FBI and other agencies are already listening to our phone calls, and reading our text messages, so why shouldn't they do the same thing with our social media sites?

because i live in Canada and don't appreciate amrican fbi douchebags
thinking they are exempt from LAW and can do whatever they want

If you publish information that is publcally available to anyone that can open Twitter or do a Bing/Google then you are putting yourself out there.

The FBI wanting a system to monitor this 'publicaly available' information is irrelevant.

If you don't want the FBI or anyone else knowing your business, stop posting stuff in public places.

I just deleted my entire online existence. You'll do the same if you know what's good for you. The American Government must be stopped by its people, which are fat, lazy, and generally won't know this has happened until after it's happened. Pathetic.

VoX said,
I just deleted my entire online existence. You'll do the same if you know what's good for you. The American Government must be stopped by its people, which are fat, lazy, and generally won't know this has happened until after it's happened. Pathetic.

Ironically, you just posted information in a public place that ANYONE in the world can read, that with a bit of work, can be correlated back to you and your real identity.

The FBI isn't the problem, people posting in public places and expecting it to be private or not caring is the problem.

It states they will be monitoring publicly available content. Do people use Facebook as lamely as they use Twitter?? I wonder what the percentage of public to private posts is for Facebook. Here's mine, 0% public - 100% private. Secondly, a twitter account is about as identifiable as a person in a party with a mask on. Even if they have one of those facial recognition programs like you see in the movie, how would you know if the person didn't swipe a magazine scan of a person to use as their profile... Hmm

lflashl said,
how would you monitor Facebook, cause im not friends with the FBI, so Facebook would get access to everyone's account!

FBI has access for sure. Your own city manager has access to your facebook account even if it's private and shut away. I posted some pix a while back (halloween) posing as a bounty hunter. They were offended by the gun I was holding (God forbid I have a gun). They gave the photos to my bro who works at the library and questioned him about it. I sent them a nasty ass letter and moved out. (In the happy desert now where I continue to stockpile my armory.) I'm not exaggerating here.

Izlude said,

FBI has access for sure. Your own city manager has access to your facebook account even if it's private and shut away. I posted some pix a while back (halloween) posing as a bounty hunter. They were offended by the gun I was holding (God forbid I have a gun). They gave the photos to my bro who works at the library and questioned him about it. I sent them a nasty ass letter and moved out. (In the happy desert now where I continue to stockpile my armory.) I'm not exaggerating here.

what are you talking about!

How hard would it be to monitor things like twitter or facebook? Unless they are talking about a situation where the FBI wants to dig into your profile...even if it's a private profile. Other than that...I can monitor people on twitter and facebook by simply going to a public profile and reading what they have posted.

But hey...if you choose to put stuff out there on facebook and twitter..public or private...you risk anyone seeing it...tagging it...forwarding it...talking about it....etc.

oh yeah Sure the F.B.I. want PROGRAMER to create a app for the F.B.I to monitor social network? .. im a programer but i will never help them

Seems like they've finally decided to try to catch up to the CIA on this particular front. Always enjoyable watching that power struggle.

Sorry if this seems harsh but with SOPA and what not doing the rounds my actual response to this is;

Hahahahahahaaaaaaaaa *cough* Ahahahahahaaaaa Hahahaha Ha Ha, *wipes away tears

Even as a law obiding citizen im not signing up to that. The less im monitored in this day and age the better. Besides if they want to track and know everything then Im sure there already doing so via our phones.

In the image it mentions forums, so I guess Neowin will fall under this umbrella?

So what about all the false alarms coming from forums that talk about FPS games. Are they going to filter those sites out? If that's the case then this would be a big loophole. Just make a website about "FPS games" and talk about drug smuggling

Someone hears a comment like FBI should really do something better than they do.. but they don't have time to develop it themselves..

Then it snowballs into a discussion and the FBI has NO plans to OFFICIALLY ask for anyone help.. it was a half baked idea.. of course the FBI has a team of "specialists" to do whatever they need, they don't outsource ANYTHING. There are plenty of govt qualified people to do whatever they need.

Also the government has WAY better tools and resources than anyone in the private sector anyway.. we don't hear about it because it's ALWAYS cloaked in secrecy.

If you HATE the govt then you HATE the people that live in that country, so if you don't like it or hate the FBI feel free to move, douchebags.

rijp said,
Then it snowballs into a discussion and the FBI has NO plans to OFFICIALLY ask for anyone help.. it was a half baked idea.. of course the FBI has a team of "specialists" to do whatever they need, they don't outsource ANYTHING. There are plenty of govt qualified people to do whatever they need.

so, 8ball u say...?

Good idea as it looks like it would only provide extra info to be used when catching warranted criminals. Not for general police traffic stops.

Erik Ryans said,
Good idea as it looks like it would only provide extra info to be used when catching warranted criminals. Not for general police traffic stops.

Tell that to the people in Guatanamo Bay

I've just added the friend "Flowers By Irene". Suspicious?

I'm sure if they contact Social Media sites they probably can help them setup a system safely.

PotatoJ said,
Many companies already do social media tracking. Kind of surprised the FBI hasn't yet.

they obviously do already.. but they want to make it more automatic.. also those tools are for tracking how people in general are reacting to different news.. The FBI probably wants one that can track individuals and combine multiple profiles on all the different sites and find who they communicate to..

ShareShiz said,
Good luck getting help when the whole world hates you... even your own country.

Some douchebag will do it for sure

ShareShiz said,
Good luck getting help when the whole world hates you... even your own country.

Sorry, but people in the US don't hate themselves. And if everyone else hates the US, they should stop taking US aid. I don't hear them complaining about THAT do you?

ShareShiz said,
Good luck getting help when the whole world hates you... even your own country.

Pretty sure only criminals hate the FBI. I think you may have been watching too much television.

Trueblue711 said,

Sorry, but people in the US don't hate themselves. And if everyone else hates the US, they should stop taking US aid. I don't hear them complaining about THAT do you?

Yeah its like the US, some americans make fun of canada but then beg us for oil and would go into meltdown if we said get lost.

Trueblue711 said,

Sorry, but people in the US don't hate themselves. And if everyone else hates the US, they should stop taking US aid. I don't hear them complaining about THAT do you?

Only an id** would refuse free money, and we're the id**'s who are giving it away freely.

Neo003 said,

Only an id** would refuse free money, and we're the id**'s who are giving it away freely.

how cute... you have no idea how the world works, do ya?
get a clue so you dont make yourself look like a dumbass again with such statements

Trueblue711 said,

Sorry, but people in the US don't hate themselves. And if everyone else hates the US, they should stop taking US aid. I don't hear them complaining about THAT do you?

OMG LOL
Classic American arogance LOLOLOLOL
What you do people get from my fellow Canadians ?
Should i list them all ?
Oh i dunno how about wood, water, electricty, oil..........................
should i go on ?

This is why people around the world have a negative opinion about Americans.. Wake the hell up already

Rudie32 said,
I await a friend request from some dude called "NOT FBI"

ok, i'm gonna make a new profile "NOT FBI" and start adding people. haha

oceanmotion said,
Surprised they don't. The other US agencies must have but I guess they don't like each other.

Keyword: "to monitor sites like Twitter and Facebook MORE effectively"

In other words: "We do it but we need a better system to drill the info..........."

oceanmotion said,
Surprised they don't. The other US agencies must have but I guess they don't like each other.

They have access, but it takes forever for them to find out who/where people "actually" are, and finding associated content for that person for any given time period. So, the FBI does not realize that the information is being held at every endpoint in the chain and that those systems are not the same in many ways, and anything else would be some version of what they already are able to do. It takes them forever now, because they have to find the time(s)/location(s)/ip(s)/in order of events, and be able to tie all of it together verifying what they are looking for. When they realize this can't currently happen, we will be one step closer to bar-codes on our heads so that we can do anything at all, and they can pull it all up with one click.