Got a Social Media Spying App? The FBI's Interested

Dennis Faas's picture

If you've developed an application capable of spying on users of social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) would probably like to have a chat with you. But don't worry -- it would appear they're more likely to use your app than putting you in prison for it.

In a recent post on the site, the FBI's Strategic Information and Operations Center (SIOC) openly admits it's looking for an app that will allow the investigative organization to go behind the scenes in social media sites and news networks.

According to the post, the much-wanted apps will boast "the ability to rapidly assemble critical open-source information and intelligence that will allow SIOC to quickly vet, identify, and geo-locate breaking events, incidents, and emerging threats." (Source:

Key Capability Sought: "Search and Scrape"

Overall, the Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking for an app that has been carefully enough researched and developed that it boasts a wide variety of what the agency considers useful spying features.

For example, among the requirements are that the app must be "infinitely flexible" and prove able "to adapt quickly to changing threats to maintain the strategic and tactical advantage" for those using it. (Source:

Most important is the inclusion of a feature the FBI calls a "search and scrape capability." This refers to the app's ability to filter through all information it collects from social networking sites.

The spy agency also hopes that such a feature could be usable to pore over data gathered from major news sites, including CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC -- each of which was specifically named in the post. (Source:

No Big Pay Day for Successful Developer

It's worth noting, however, that the developer of such a powerful information gathering app won't be reaping a big pay day. The FBI says that, for the time being, it's interested only in finding out what kinds of apps are out there for this purpose, and how they have been constructed.

Officially, the FBI says it plans to use the app to help it wage war against cybercriminals and terrorists.

The FBI has set February 10, 2012, as the deadline for developers to submit apps for review.

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