CIA spying on Facebook through investments

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(Image for illustrative purposes).

(Image for illustrative purposes).

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 magazine.

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 Technologies.

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