Meet the Open Source Center, the unassumingly-named CIA offshoot that spies on the world through "pores over Facebook, newspapers, TV news channels, local radio stations, Internet chat rooms -- anything overseas that anyone can access and contribute to openly," the Associated Press's Kimberly Dozier reports. She became the world's first reporter allowed into the spy shop since it was established in response to recommendations by the 9/11 Commission, but it only started tracking social media globally following Iran's Green Revolution in 2009. They claim to have seen the revolution in Egypt coming, that Chinese tweets joined Palkistani ones in having a negative reaction to the Osama bin Laden killing, and that no side in the Middle East seemed to like President Obama's Middle Easy policy speech. But for all that statistical sifting, the C.IA. also uses Twitter just like us: to find out what's going on in farflung places. When riots broke out in Bangkok this past May, Dozier writes, "The CIA homed in on 12 to 15 users who tweeted situation reports and cellphone photos of demonstrations."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.