CIA Follows Twitter, Facebook

The CIA looks at 5 million tweets a day in an attempt to get a feeling for public sentiment in Pakistan, China, and elsewhere. At the Open Source Center in Virginia, a team of several hundred analysts nicknamed the “vengeful librarians” scours Facebook, newspapers, local radio stations, and chat rooms in order to monitor public reactions to major events, like the killing of Osama bin Laden or the revolution in Egypt. When President Obama gave his Mideast speech a few weeks after the bin Laden raid, the center found that Twitter users in Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, and Algeria found the speech too pro-Israel, while Israelis thought it was too pro-Arab. The analysts also monitor developing news, such as the riots in Bangkok, following social-media users they believe are publishing accurate information.