Edward Snowden’s leaked paper have released a lot of bombshells but none as big as this: the NSA sent agents to play World of Warcraft and Second Life in search of terrorist threats. You have to admire these agents for their dangerous immersion in worlds of trolls, night elves and avatar dress shops to keep us safe, but you never know where a threat might arise:
Online games might seem innocuous, a top-secret 2008 N.S.A. document warned, but they had the potential to be a “target-rich communication network” allowing intelligence suspects “a way to hide in plain sight.” Virtual games “are an opportunity!” another 2008 N.S.A. document declared.
But for all their enthusiasm — so many C.I.A., F.B.I. and Pentagon spies were hunting around in Second Life, the document noted, that a “deconfliction” group was needed to avoid collisions — the intelligence agencies may have inflated the threat.
So many spies playing games…I’m sure this was ALL ABOUT going into chat rooms and asking if anyone happened to be making a bomb, and not goofing off at all.
Despite the heroic measures, no threats were found, perhaps because terrorists have moved on from Second Life to far more sophisticated platforms such as Angry Birds Friends
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.