Jane Binnion column

Jane Binnion from Lancaster, social media trainer.
Jane Binnion from Lancaster, social media trainer.

You may have heard that last month the CIA opened a Twitter account, @CIA. It isn’t a very exciting Twitter account to be honest, the FBI’s is much more interesting.

However they did nearly blow up Twitter with their very first tweet of: “We can neither confirm nor deny that this is our first tweet”

Which got shared over 300,000 times. It’s good to know that someone in the CIA has a sense of humour at least, which they showed again at the end of #U2 week (U-2 was the CIA’s first cold war spy plane) when they tweeted: “We have finally found what we are looking for” .

Personally I liked Rik Mayall’s one and only tweet much more, but because of the colourful language I can’t write it here, so you will have to go and find it if you want to read it.

I suspect there are many people just waiting for the CIA account to get hacked, which reminds me, did you hear that British digital spy hub GCHQ, are now hacking our messages exchanged via Google, Facebook and Twitter?

We have quite strong privacy laws here, but they have apparently changed the definition and said that they can do this because Twitter, Facebook and Google are all external to the UK, so these are external communications.

I’m not quite sure what they are looking for as everyone is publicly sharing pretty much everything about their lives now anyway.

In the US, The Department of Homeland Security say they are only looking for evidence of genuine threats to the country. They have been forced to release a list of keywords and phrases used to monitor social networking sites and online media. These words include ‘attack’, ‘Al Qaeda’, ‘terrorism’, North Korea and ‘dirty bomb’ as well as words like ‘pork’, ‘cloud’, ‘team’ and ‘Mexico’.

So now you not only have to take care to not bring your employer into disrepute, or share photos of people that might get them into trouble, it’s also best to avoid tweeting that you are ‘on cloud nine enjoying those hot pork barn cakes on your team day’.

As for the UK, in a statement they said “GCHQ has a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters.” In other words of course, they couldn’t possibly comment.