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Inside money, markets, and Big Tech

This article was published on October 19, 2009

    CIA invests in firm that monitors social media conversation. Watch what you say.

    CIA invests in firm that monitors social media conversation. Watch what you say.
    Zee
    Story by

    Zee

    Former CEO of The Next Web. A fan of startups, entrepreneurship, getting things done faster, penning the occasional blog post, taking photos Former CEO of The Next Web. A fan of startups, entrepreneurship, getting things done faster, penning the occasional blog post, taking photos, designing, listening to good music and making lurrrve.

    2991p900140resizeBigger001_1207924192In-Q-Tel, a little known investment arm of the CIA has invested cash into Visible Technologies, a software firm that specializes in monitoring social media conversation.

    According to Wired, the move is “part of a larger movement within the spy services to get better at using “open source intelligence” — information that’s publicly available, but often hidden in the flood of TV shows, newspaper articles, blog posts, online videos, and radio reports generated every day.”

    Visible Technologies specialises in tracking and participating in influential social media conversations and crawls over a million posts and conversations taking place on blogs, online forums, Flickr, YouTube, Twitter, and Amazon – except for closed social sites like Facebook.

    “Anything that is out in the open is fair game for collection,” Steven Aftergood told Wired, who tracks intelligence issues at the Federation of American Scientists. But “even if information is openly gathered by intelligence agencies it would still be problematic if it were used for unauthorized domestic investigations or operations.”

    If there was any doubt as to the value in Social Media tracking, these figures should impress. Founded in 2003, Visible Technologies has achieved more than 60 percent year over year revenue growth, earned revenues of $6.6 Million in 2008, signed 24 Fortune 1000 companies to its client roster in Q3 of this year ( including Xerox and Autodesk), and along with $2 million of funding raised today, the company has brought in a total of $23.5 million in funding to date.