AP Exclusive: CIA following Twitter, Facebook

By Kimberly Dozier

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Nov. 4 2011 2:06 a.m. MDT

FILE - In this March 30, 2011, file photo. an art student from the University of Helwan paints the Facebook logo on a mural commemorating the revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak in the Zamalek neighborhood of Cairo, Egypt. The team from the CIA's Open Source Center, housed in a unassuming brick building in a Virginia industrial park, pores daily over tweets, Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms _ anything overseas that anyone can access, and contribute to, openly. The center saw the uprising in Egypt coming said the center’s director, Doug Naquin. The center already had "predicted that social media in places like Egypt could be a game-changer and a threat to the regime," he said in a recent interview with The Associated Press.

Manoocher Deghati, File, Associated Press

McLEAN, Va. — In an anonymous industrial park in Virginia, the CIA is following tweets — up to 5 million a day.

The idea is that when rebels, militants, activists or diplomats broadcast information on Twitter or elsewhere, America's spies scoop it up.

At the agency's Open Source Center, the analysts the CIA affectionately calls its "vengeful librarians" pore over all forms of social media in many different languages, from all over the world.

The CIA studies and cross-references the material with clandestinely intercepted information to form a snapshot of anything from the mood in Pakistan after the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden to whether a Mideast nation seems ripe for revolt.

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