Espionage and Social Media

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Social media use has skyrocketed in recent years and connected the world in ways unimaginable in the past. Families, friends, professionals, political movements, and corporations all use social media to maintain contact around the globe, share ideas, unite against oppressive regimes, or enhance a company’s brand recognition. Facebook’s billion and a half users now comprise a larger population than any country on the planet, and, if Twitter were a country, its 300 million users would rank it fourth in population, just behind the United States.

Like many technological advances, however, social media has been used for ill as well as good, as evidenced by terrorists’ use of networking sites to spread jihadist propaganda and attract new recruits. Terrorists, however, are not the only bad actors exploiting social media for nefarious purposes. The electronic barrier between interlocutors inherent in social media is ideally suited for deception and is routinely exploited by bad actors of every stripe to harm their unsuspecting targets.

The Cipher Brief has become the most popular outlet for former intelligence officers; no media outlet is even a close second to The Cipher Brief in terms of the number of articles published by formers.” —Sept. 2018, Studies in Intelligence, Vol. 62

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