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Tools for monitoring Americans online are increasingly accessible and affordable to authorities, especially as people continue to post publicly on social media.
According to NBC News, there is a growing customer base for Internet-monitoring contractors who sift through personal details readily available online. Some schools began enlisting these services to follow students on social media and monitor for cyber-bullying. The future could very well include searching for references of illegal downloads or insurance companies seeking non-smokers’ online confessions.
Twitter, for example, has an exclusive “firehose” of data available to a growing number of third parties (for a fee, of course).
However, software is not always the best interpreter of human data. For example, searching for hashtags of #meth or #shootout could be more about an episode of “Breaking Bad” than any actionable intelligence, the article notes.