The US surveillance authorities closely monitor your social media activities if you are planning to visit the country as a tourist or immigrant, according to this Next Web post.
Although it shouldn’t be a surprise, especially the way various Islamic terrorist organisations are using social media to recruit new terrorists and brainwash impressionable minds, perhaps it is for the first time that a top official, someone like Obama, has directly admitted that the government keeps a close watch on your social media activities once you have applied for the necessary paperwork.
It’s important to distinguish between posts that are public — social media on a Facebook page — versus private communications through various social media or apps. And our law enforcement and intelligence professionals are constantly monitoring public posts and that is part of the visa review process — that people are investigating what individuals have said publicly, and questioned about any statements they maybe made.
Public posts – your social media content that is visible to everybody – is easy to monitor. In fact, according to what Obama has been quoted as saying, it is the usual visa review process to monitor social media activities of the applicants. What you are posting on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube is constantly being indexed not just by search engines but also by many surveillance bots. Your language is being processed. They single out certain words and phrases to analyse what sort of messages you are exchanging and what sort of thought process you are going through.
What might be tricky is whether they are able to monitor your private messages that you exchange on social media websites as well as using mobile apps.
Monitoring private social media messages is a sensitive issue both in terms of technology as well as morality. In the name of providing security should people’s privacy be violated? It is difficult to choose between privacy and safety.
As the Next Web post rightly says, Obama isn’t clear whether it is hard to monitor private conversations on social media due to privacy concerns or the lack of available technology.
But if you have private communications between two people that’s harder to discern, by definition. And one of the things we’ll be doing is engaging with the high-tech community to find out how we can, in an appropriate way, do a better job if we have a lead, to be able to track suspected terrorists.