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'Riot' software could help governments spy on your real-life activity through social networks

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Riot security software
Riot security software

If you need yet another reason to ensure your Facebook privacy settings are adequately locked down, Raytheon's "Riot" software should do the trick. Developed by the Massachusetts-based security firm, Riot — short for Rapid Information Overlay Technology — can quickly mine various social networks for an individual user's data, using previous posts to predict your future behavior and / or your location at any given time. A video obtained by The Guardian, sourced from a 2010 presentation, demonstrates how the software can quickly dig for sensitive data like the top 10 places you visit most frequently.

That information can then be parsed into more specific criteria (how many times you hit the gym each month, what time you typically go, etc.). Geotagged photos are laid out on a map, making it easy for those tracking you to observe precisely where you've been. And, perhaps most alarming, Riot charts out all of your most important social connections, highlighting people you're known to chat with most often.

No shortage of potential buyers for this spying software

As of now, Raytheon says it hasn't yet sold the technology to federal authorities or other law enforcement agencies. But government officials did get a peek at Riot back in 2010, when it became clear that social networks could serve as a vital investigation tool. For its part, Raytheon seems all too eager to lend its invasive tech to interested parties. "Riot is a big data analytics system design we are working on with industry, national labs and commercial partners to help turn massive amounts of data into useable information to help meet our nation's rapidly changing security needs," a spokesperson told The Guardian. The company pointed out that it's software steers clear of personally identifiable information like social security numbers and and financial data — an admission we don't expect will fend off privacy advocates anytime soon.