U.S. military reportedly experiments with Twitter tracking

Aug. 21, 2013 at 7:10 PM

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- The U.S. Special Operations Command experimented with using data Twitter makes publicly available to identify terrorist networks, The Financial Times says.

The London newspaper reported Wednesday Steve Aftergood of the Federation of American Scientists received a draft summary of "Quantum Leap," an eight-day conference last year. Special Operations Command brought together 50 experts from government and industry to "identify and exploit human, commercial and information networks" in tracking a money-laundering operation.

During the recent uproar over data-mining by the National Security Agency, Twitter emerged as a major online company that did not give the government easy access to its data. But "Quantum Leap" tried to exploit data Twitter makes public, using a search tool created for the project called "Social Bubble."

Twitter was not informed of the experiment.

The U.S. military said the program under which the experiment was conducted has been shut down.

Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation told The Financial Times the project raises questions: "Once again, we're left wondering about the answers to numerous questions: how far-reaching are these data collection efforts, how many more efforts are out there, how were companies facilitating these endeavors, and what is being done with the data being collected?"

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