Report: NSA spies on Americans’ Facebook profiles

BY KHUSHBU KAPADIA
Editor in Chief

The National Security Agency has been accused of spying and accessing information using phone records and email logs, including those of American citizens. However, apart from phone calls and emails, the NSA has been using social media sites, such as Facebook, to spy on people’s profiles, according to news reports. Governments in about 74 countries reportedly have access to information from more than 38,000 Facebook users from the first half of this year, according to USA Today.

According to Kateryna Shushval, business administration major at CCM, there are two sides to the the NSA using social media to gather information.

“I personally wouldn’t want the NSA to spy on me and what I’m doing because I value my privacy,” Shushval said, “but at the same time, there are a lot of crazy people out there.”

Of the 38,000 Facebook users that NSA allegedly has access to, half of them are from the United States, according to USA Today.

David Jones, a digital media technology major at CCM, said he doesn’t think the NSA should be able to intrude on civil liberties.

“Just to be able to intrude into people’s online worlds at any time without judicial review, to me is against the very spirit of the fourth amendment…” Jones said. “We should be aware, however, that the online world is public.”

photo by Mike Dicola
Student accessing Facebook

These reports about the NSA using phone records, email logs, and now, social media sites to gather information are allegations by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. The report that NSA was spying on Americans’ Facebook accounts was first disclosed by The New York Times on Sept. 29 using documents that were given to the newspaper by Snowden.

A new policy was enacted in which the NSA is granted access to social media sites, such as Facebook, geo-location information, tax and insurance records and other sources to better the act of gathering the needed information for the government.

The New York Times was also given a PowerPoint presentation that detailed how the NSA uses specific software to map a person’s location. In addition to knowing where a person is at a specific time, the NSA can also find out who the person travels with and communicates with. This is done by gathering information from phone calls, email logs and, now, social media platforms.

The NSA chief, however, is denying the allegations that the agency is spying on Facebook profiles.

Shushval has given up on social media because of this.

“I’m actually not surprised that they’re spying on people because the Internet is something that anyone can have access to,” Shushval said. “That’s why I don’t have a Facebook and whatever you do put on the Internet, you should be cautious because someone else can have access to your information.”

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