Wednesday, January 24, 2007

CIA on Facebook

If you're a Facebook member, a career as a government spook is only a click away.

Since December 2006, the Central Intelligence Agency has been using, the popular social networking site, to recruit potential employees into its National Clandestine Service. It marks the first time the CIA has ventured into social networking to hire new personnel.

The CIA's Facebook page (login required) provides an overview of what the NCS is looking for in a recruit, along with a 30-second promotional YouTube video aimed at potential college-aged applicants. U.S. citizens with a GPA above 3.0 can apply.

"It's an invaluable tool when it comes to peer-to-peer marketing," says Michele Neff, a CIA spokeswoman.

"If (the CIA) knows about Facebook, and they have a page on Facebook, it would be surprising if they weren't using it in other ways," says Nicole Ozer, civil liberties and technology policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California.

Facebook's privacy policy states that outside companies sponsoring groups don't have access to personal information or profiles. However, it does say that information may be shared with "other companies, lawyers, agents or government agencies," in order to comply with the law.

Besides the fact that it isn't technically a company, the CIA says it is only using Facebook as an advertisement for new recruits.

"The (CIA Facebook) page is only for information purposes; people cannot leave messages or engage in commentary," says Neff. "There is no collection of names, bio information or resume collection from this site, nor do we engage members in any way."

Neff's claim is reinforced by Facebook's director of marketing Melanie Deitch, who refers to the agency as an "advertiser."

"The CIA has no direct access to any user's profile," Deitch says. "They adhere to the same rules as all of our advertisers. We do not publish or disseminate our users' information to any advertiser."

Ozer says that there's no way we can be sure what the CIA is up to online.

"It seems if they would go to the trouble to infiltrate peace groups that they are also online looking at information."

more at Wired

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