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Federal Agents Urged to ‘Friend’ People on Social Networks, Memo Reveals
October 18, 2010
A privacy watchdog has uncovered a government memo that encourages federal agents to befriend people on a variety of social networks, to take advantage of their readiness to share — and to spy on them. In response to a Freedom of Information request, the government released a handful of documents, including a May 2008 memo detailing how social-networking sites are exploited by the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS).
As of Thursday morning, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and Digg had not commented on the report, which details the official government program to spy via social networking. Other websites the government is spying on include Twitter, MySpace, Craigslist and Wikipedia, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which filed the FOIA request.
“Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuel a need to have a large group of ‘friends’ link to their pages, and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know,” stated one of the documents obtained by the EFF. “This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities,” it said.
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