2008. Canberra. I was working in intelligence.
As an analyst, you have two choices:
I’ve never been particularly good at playing follow-the-leader. My brain just isn’t wired with the collective groupthink mentality required for life in a hive, so I went off on what was considered at the time a fairly left-field tangent.
Having convinced my then boss to let me loose on the internet (read: humour me for a time), I set up a fake Facebook profile, loaded up a series of Google Alerts and the hunt was on.
What I found was a treasure trove of information about persons of interest. Forget about digital breadcrumbs; these people were tossing whole loaves of bread behind them as they went about their daily lives. It was a photo-frenzied orgy of people, places, contact information and connections.
Social media was in its early sociological renaissance. People were so enamoured with just the thought of being part of this exciting new phenomenon that they had very few online inhibitions.
I remember this moment vividly. From an intelligence analyst’s perspective, I’d hit the data jackpot! Forget about months of legwork to track down the name of a single person of interest’s associate. I just had to search their Facebook friends list, cross-reference that with information from classified sources and verify my data.
In a very short time, riding on the high of some early successes, ...