Much like your parents who recently friended you on Facebook, the CIA has finally discovered social media, the AP reports. But instead of endlessly posting forwarded right wing memes to their wall, the CIA's Open Source Center monitors worldwide activity on social media sites, and the information they gather has become part of the President's daily intelligence briefing.
The analysis team, dubbed the "vengeful librarians", analyzes everything from publicly posted newspaper and TV reports, blogs, local radio, Facebook (of course), and thousands upon thousands of tweets, in dozens of languages. The idea is that by cross-referencing the off-the-cuff utterances on blogs and social networks with reports by establishment media in the posters' regions, analysts can get a glimpse into the public mood in troubled regions of the world. This would presumably enable the agency to offer predictions on the likelihood of a revolt against a friendly or not-so-friendly government, determine the local reaction to US activities in the area, and possibly, make certain that the CIA's LOLcat archives are thoroughly up to date.
The Open Source Center was initially created upon recommendation of the 9/11 commission, but the focus on social media didn't begin until 2009, when the heavy use of Twitter by participants in Iran's so-called green revolution became world famous. Since then, CIA spokespeople claim, they were able to determine a high likelihood of uprisings in Egypt (though no mention has been made of the Tunisian revolt that kicked off the "Arab Spring"). The center was also tasked with analyzing public reaction to the assassination of Osama Bin Ladin, and to President Obama's Middle East speech given a few weeks later. As expected, regional reactions were largely negative.
The Center is currently analyzing their own results by comparison to polling organizations to determine which provides more accurate results. A result in their favor likely means an expansion, and the chance for those with Library Science Master's Degrees to experience a little of what it's like to be in the first 15 minutes of a Bond film.