Who knew that Facebook could be used for intelligence or counter-intelligence purposes, but the Chinese have shown that it could not only be thought about but actually done as well. The Chinese spies made a Facebook profile pretending to a U.S. Navy Admiral named James Stavridis according to ZDNet. He is actually the current commander, U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), and NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR).
The reason that the Chinese spies might have chosen him for their trickery is because he is the one who would be connected to the most wanted of their targets in intelligence information. Through this they befriended senior British military officers, Defense Ministry officials, and other government officials too. The purpose of this social network connection was to get personal information including private e-mail addresses, phone numbers, pictures, the names of family members, and covering their status updates as intelligence matter. Stavridis became their disguise online because he does use his Facebook account every now and then making such announcements as intending to end the organisation’s mission in Libya in October 2011.
One could imagine in a science-fictional story that Facebook is being used for this purpose, but to have happened in reality, is really taking tricks a bit too far. But the Chinese have shown that they can outsmart others in anything when it comes to intelligence. May be it might trigger a trend so to speak amongst other intelligence personnel and agencies to trick such officials of government into being friends only to get their such personal data out. This also arises the issue of remaining more careful regarding whom is to be trusted and who not, especially when it comes to having fake profiles.
Facebook would have to consider the matter personally of not making its social network turn into an intelligence and counter-intelligence playground, because essentially it is for socializing and hence in this sense is pro-people rather than anything threatening or intimidating like this. However the Chinese have not been directly blamed by NATO officials, but according to The Telegraph, China is actually the one who could dare think of it and do it. The speculation is based on the evidence that certain Chinese state-sponsored individuals could have been involved. Another newspaper, The Guardian, also pins them down for the act. After the matter came up front, Facebook has taken the down the fake profile.
There has been fake profiles of many celebrities, but getting such fake profiles of real people in position of power and then through these fake profiles to gather intelligence is really threatening for the safe environment of Facebook itself. Even the celebrities have complained about their Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts being fake which then spread rumours and much trouble for them. Facebook should also introduce an authentication system for such public officials too. In fact, for everyone in the military and in government positions to stop such spying activities.
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