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Feds searched Daily Kos, NPR for threats to Obama, memo reveals

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In the lead-up to President Obama’s inauguration, federal investigators conducted a major sweep of online social networks in search of threats.

In the process, according to a memo unearthed by a privacy advocate group, feds singled out numerous popular web sites and social networks to be scanned for threats and other information, including the liberal blogging community Daily Kos and National Public Radio.

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A government memo obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Electronic Frontiers Foundation (EFF) shows that federal investigators were encouraged to “friend” as many people as possible on social networks as a way of crowdsourcing intelligence operations.

In a memo titled “Social Networks and their Importance in FDNS” (fraud detection and national defense), which outlined online monitoring techniques in the lead-up to the 2009 presidential election, the Department of Homeland Security writes …

Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of “friends” link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know. This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities.

This social networking gives FDNS an opportunity to reveal fraud by browsing these sites to see if petitioners and beneficiaries are in a valid relationship or are attempting to deceive [United States Citizen and Immigration Services] about their relationship. Once a user posts online, they create a public record and timeline of their activities. In essence, using MySpace and other like sites is akin to doing an unannounced cyber “site-visit” on a [sic] petitioners and beneficiaries.

Sites actively being watched by federal agents include Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Wikipedia, Craigslist, Twitter, Flickr, Daily Kos, NPR, CNN’s iReport and others.

While the memo specifies that agents would not be collecting accutely private information such as full names, ip addresses or other contact information, it makes an exception for the tracking of usernames.

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“First, the memo makes no mention of what level of suspicion, if any, an agent must find before conducting such surveillance, leaving every applicant as a potential target,” the EFF explained. “Nor does the memo address whether or not DHS agents must reveal their government affiliation or even their real name during the friend request, leaving open the possibility that agents could actively deceive online users to infiltrate their social networks and monitor the activities of not only that user, but also the user’s friends, family, and other associates. Finally, the memo makes several assumptions about social networking users that are not necessarily grounded in truth and reveal the author’s lack of understanding of the ways people use social networking sites.”

The group says it is concerned out-of-date or off-hand information given on social networks could result in full-blown citizenship investigations.

Though specifically mentioned in the report, a spokesperson for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services told Fox News that it does not permit its agents to “friend” anyone on social networks.

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Read the full memo (PDF link).

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Victoria’s Secret to cancel annual fashion show

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US lingerie brand Victoria's Secret said it was cancelling its annual fashion show which usually draws millions of TV viewers, saying it was shifting its marketing strategy following criticism and weak financial results.

"Did we see a specific material impact on short-term sales in response to the airing of the fashion show?" asked Stuart Burgdoerfer, the finance director of parent company L Brands.

"As a general matter, the answer to that question is no," he told analysts in a conference call Thursday.

He added that Victoria's Secret would be "communicating to customers, but nothing that I would say is similar in magnitude to the fashion show".

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Democrats intend to present Mueller findings in next round of impeachment hearings

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House Democrats would like to hold at least one impeachment hearing on findings from Robert Mueller's report, but must first sort out court challenges to witnesses and evidence from that investigation.

Roger Stone's trial, which ended in a guilty verdict on all seven counts, raised new questions about whether President Donald Trump perjured himself in written responses to the special counsel's questions, and Democrats may present that evidence and examine Mueller's findings on obstruction of justice, reported Politico.

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2020 Election

Joe Biden under fire for telling immigrant rights activist demanding end to deportations to ‘vote for Trump’

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The former vice president also told climate activists that they "listen to Bernie too much" after they demanded he reject corporate cash.

During a campaign event in Greenwood, South Carolina Thursday night, former Vice President Joe Biden told a protestor who confronted him over the Obama administration's mass deportation policies to "vote for Trump," prompting outrage from immigrant rights groups and activists.

"By now, it is clear that the immigrant community cannot trust Biden."—Carlos Rojas, Movimiento Cosecha

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