SOCIAL MEDIA “TACTICAL INTELLIGENCE COLLECTION”: Spying and Propaganda using Facebook, Twitter
by Julie Lévesque
February 15, 2012
A new study by the Mediterranean Council for Intelligence Studies’ (MCIS) 2012 Intelligence Studies Yearbook points to the use of social media as “the new cutting edge in open-source tactical intelligence collection”. IntelNews.org’s Joseph Fitsanakis, who co-authored the study, reports:
We explain that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and a host of other social networking platforms are increasingly viewed by intelligence agencies as invaluable channels of information acquisition. We base our findings on three recent case studies, which we believe highlight the intelligence function of social networking. (Joseph Fitsanakis, Research: Spies increasingly using Facebook, Twitter to gather data, intelNews.org, February 13, 2012)
What the study fails to mention, however, is the use of social media by intelligence agencies for other purposes. The study leads us to believe that social media is solely an intelligence gathering tool, when in fact, a number of reports have shown that it is used for propaganda and to create fake identities for covert operations. Those practices are discussed in Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda, Social Media: Air Force ordered software to manage army of Fake Virtual People and Pentagon Seeks to Manipulate Social Media for Propaganda Purposes, published on Global Research in 2011.
The MCIS study is partly based on the “Arab Spring” framework which allegedly “prompted the US government to begin developing guidelines for culling intelligence from social media networks”. (Ibid.)