US Agents Spying through Social Networking Sites

October 15, 2010
Headlines

Newly released documents show government agencies have engaged in domestic spying through popular social networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a 2008 memo from the US Citizenship and Immigration Service instructed agents to befriend petitioners on social networking sites to monitor them for unlawful activity. The memo says, "Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of ’friends’… and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know. This provides an excellent vantage point for [us] to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities." The documents also show the Department of Homeland Security monitored posts on a wide range of websites to analyze public communication during President Obama’s inauguration. In addition to popular social networking sites, government agents also tracked activity on news sites such as NPR, the political commentary site Daily Kos, and dating sites for African Americans and Latinos.