The CIA knows when you're hitting the gym

Raytheon's RIOT software makes it easy for spooks to follow your trail across Facebook, Foursquare, and other social networks. Paranoid yet?

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Mining social media to identify actual people is the entire point. Claiming otherwise is absurd. The problem with using data mining like this -- aside from the fact it may well violate our Constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure -- is that it’s too easy to make the wrong inferences from data and come to dangerously inaccurate conclusions.

It doesn’t matter if you’ve got nothing to hide and don’t care if some three-letter government agency knows when and where you go to the gym or what photos you took on your last vacation. It matters how they interpret this data. If the NSA decides you’re hitting the treadmill not to lose the beer gut but to chat up Abu Nazir, who happens to hit the exercise bike next to you two days a week and also happened to be traveling to the same cities you were just in --  you’re totally screwed. And that applies to all of your friends as well. 

Is this the bargain we struck when we signed on to social media networks? I don’t think so. But it’s the reality we appear to be stuck with.

Got a question about social media? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Visit his snarky, occasionally NSFW blog eSarcasm or follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld onTwitter and Facebook.

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