How Is It That A Random Comment On Reddit Leads To Your Friend Getting Tracked By The FBI?
from the that-doesn't-seem-right dept
Last week, we wrote about the guy who found an FBI tracking device on his car. His friend then posted the pics to Reddit, leading the FBI to show up at the original guy’s house, demanding the tracking device back. One odd part of the story is that in the discussion that ensued, the law enforcement agents showed the guy a post his friend (the one on Reddit) had made. This is how Wired described that part of the story:
Afifi retrieved the device from his apartment and handed it over, at which point the agents asked a series of questions — did he know anyone who traveled to Yemen or was affiliated with overseas training? One of the agents produced a printout of a blog post that Afifi’s friend Khaled allegedly wrote a couple of months ago. It had “something to do with a mall or a bomb,” Afifi said. He hadn’t seen it before and doesn’t know the details of what it said. He found it hard to believe Khaled meant anything threatening by the post.
“He’s a smart kid and is not affiliated with anything extreme and never says anything stupid like that,” Afifi said. “I’ve known that guy my whole life.”
Someone in our comments quickly pointed out that the “blog post” in question was actually a comment on Reddit that was in response to a discussion about silly security procedures, and the entire comment reads:
bombing a mall seems so easy to do. i mean all you really need is a bomb, a regular outfit so you arent the crazy guy in a trench coat trying to blow up a mall and a shopping bag. i mean if terrorism were actually a legitimate threat, think about how many fucking malls would have blown up already.. you can put a bag in a million different places, there would be no way to foresee the next target, and really no way to prevent it unless CTU gets some intel at the last minute in which case every city but LA is fucked…so…yea…now i’m surely bugged : /
I’m having trouble seeing how anyone could read that and think there’s anything suspicious at all about it. But, as Bruce Schneier notes, what’s really bizarre is how that comment doesn’t just lead to the guy being tracked, but his friend having his movements tracked.
If they’re doing this to someone so tangentially connected to a vaguely bothersome post on an obscure blog, just how many of us have tracking devices on our cars right now — perhaps because of this blog?
Schneier also wonders how many people are combing through the depths of sites like Reddit to totally misread comments out of context, and then using them to start surveilling someone’s whereabouts.