A report in the Guardian this weekend revealed the details of a new piece of software developed in secret by international security firm Raytheon, which analyses “trillions of entries” from social media to track people and predict future behaviour.
The Guardian reveals how the “extreme-scale analytics” program gathers huge amounts of information about the general public from social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. The software, called Rapid information Overlay Technology – or Riot for short – is capable of analysing your social media posts, including photographs and information about your location. It can analyse connections between people to map your associations and relationships, and can read messages which people may have thought were private. If you use social media sites on your phone, it can also tell where you were at the time using information which smart phones share automatically without your knowledge.
Using Riot it is possible to gain an entire snapshot of a person’s life – their friends, the places they visit charted on a map – in little more than a few clicks of a button. (Guardian)
In addition to being able to monitor people who have already been identified by security agencies, this type of software can also identify threats independently and predict future behaviour.
Raytheon says that it has not yet sold the software to any clients, but that they did share it with the US government as part of a joint research and development effort in 2010.