For Face-book users updating their statuses or posting family pictures is for their select friends list but according to new report the information most people believe is private is actually being used by Israel to profile people and spy on them to obtain valuable information.
According to "reliable" sources quoted in France-based, Israël Magazine, Israeli intelligence focuses mainly on Arab and Muslim users and uses the information obtained through their Face-book pages to analyze their activities and understand how they think.
The extensive report allegedly ruffled some feathers in the Israeli government and diplomatic circles and Israel's ambassador to Paris accused the magazine of “making classified information available to the enemy.”
It is an intelligence network made up of Israeli psychologists who lure youths from the Arab world, especially from countries located within the range of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in addition to countries in Latin America
Gerard Niroux -- French professor
Israel's covert activity was uncovered in May 2001, Gerard Niroux, Professor of Psychology at France's Provence University said.
“It is an intelligence network made up of Israeli psychologists who lure youths from the Arab world, especially from countries located within the range of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in addition to countries in Latin America," Niroux, who is the author of a book called The Dangers of the Internet, said.
Niroux said a huge number of men use the networking website to meet women and warned this was unsafe as it is the best way to lure men and find their weak points.
“It is very easy to spy on men using women,” he told the magazine.
This is not the first time Israel has been accused of using Facebook to spy on people and in April 2008 Jordanian paper al-Haqiqa al-Dawliya published an article entitled "The Hidden Enemy" making the same claims.
The paper said it was dangerous because people, especially the youth, often reveal intimate and personal details about themselves on Facebook and similar online communities, making them easy targets for people looking in.
The fact that Israel uses Facebook to spy on Arabs is not just confined to media reports, but it is a general sentiment shared by people in the region.
People have been working as spies without realizing it, the report said, adding by just logging in to a chat room and talking about anything with someone he does not know is enough to do the job.
Any information revealed will be analyzed and used at a later stage.
Israel has a long history of espionage in the Middle East. During the 1956, 1967 and 1973 wars, Israel used to thoroughly examine the obituary pages in Arab newspapers, leading the Egyptian army to ban publishing obituaries of military personnel.
Analyzing the content of Egyptian papers also played a major role in planning for the 1967 war, according to Israeli media reports, adding the war actually started as Egyptian newspapers ran a story that several army officers of different ranks would be having breakfast together at 9:00 a.m. on June 5, 1967, the day Israel attacked Egypt.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)