This will be the decade of the social network, and social networks have become a focus of security politics. It is not that social networks are a security threat – nothing so crude. And it is not as simple as governments wishing to spy on you. The security interest in social networks is subtler. It challenges how we think about security and privacy.

When you interact in an online social network like Facebook or Twitter, you create a web of links with other people. Combine this with information on your searches, the sites you visit, and the things you ‘like’ and ‘follow’, and the result is a revealing picture of an individual. However, security is not interested in the individual, at least not in the first instance. It is interested in networks. It is not who you are, but how you are networked.

Security agencies have realised that an individual…

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