The US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) monitors
activity on Facebook and other social media outlets through companies its
investment arm has stakes in.
The CIA-backed In-Q-Tel, the agency's investment arm,
says on its website that it "identifies, adapts, and delivers innovative technology solutions to
support the missions of the CIA and broader US intelligence community".
In-Q-Tel lists Bellevue,Washington-based Visible
Technologies as one of the technology companies it partners with, and says its
carries out social media monitoring, analysis, and engagement solutions.
Visible says its client base includes Microsoft, Hormel and
Xerox, for which it has relayed information acquired on the internet that sheds light
on what people are saying about the companies. The CIA has been a client of
Visible since 2009, according to the company's website.
Visible's scope of
work comprises 12 languages including Arabic, French, and Spanish. The
company reviews more than a 1m posts and conversations taking place on
blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Amazon, according to Wired
The CIA's In-Q-Tel has stakes in at least 25 companies, according to Business
Insider. These include: Keyhole, which produced Google Earth; 3VR, a
company that helps companies mine data; Adaptx, which creates digital pens that speed
up field data collection; Basis Technology, which synthesises foreign chatter;
Biomatrica, which helps preserve biological material; Cloudera Enterprises,
which helps organisations carry out large scale data analysis; Digital Solid
State Propulsion; and FireEye, a cybersecurity company.
Other companies the CIA has stakes in include: Gainspan;
GATR Technologies; Ember Corporation; Infinite Power Solutions; Infinite Z;
Looxcie; MiserWare; MotionDSP; Oculis Labs; OpenSpan, a company that allows
organisations to spy on their employees and monitor activity on their
computers; Palantir; Perceptive Pixel; Recorded Future; Seventh Sense; Sonitus
Medical; SpotterRF; and Walleye