CIA Turns to Facebook for New Talent

With millions online sharing information at the speed of light, the Internet would seem no place for secrets.

But now, one of the most secretive employers in the world is reaching out to potential recruits through Facebook, a networking Web site popular among college students.

Since December, the Central Intelligence Agency has advertised its National Clandestine Service, a department that oversees all human espionage operations, by hosting a "Facebook Careers" group.

Michelle Neff, a spokeswoman for the CIA, said the Internet is just the wide net the agency needs for recruiting candidates with "a broad skills set."

"Facebook is a very good peer-to-peer marketing tool," she added.

In 2004, President Bush mandated a 50 percent increase in the CIA's work force, part of his post-9/11 reforms.

The CIA once relied only on print ads. But Facebook is just its latest effort to reach a younger audience.

The "CIA is advertising broadly," Neff said, "expanding to TV, movie trailers, airports, billboards, [and] soon will be heard on radio" as well.

The CIA group on Facebook is the agency's "first entree into social networking on the Internet [and] so far it is the only one," Neff added.

The group now boasts more than 3,300 members and has a 30-second promotional YouTube video.

The CIA doesn't actually post jobs on the site, collect names or "engage with members" of the group, Neff said. Instead, the site directs those who are interested to www.cia.gov.

A Generation Clicks for More

Many students who list the CIA group on their profile agree that Facebook is a great way to reach a younger audience.

"It's how we all communicate nowadays," said Kate Adornato, a senior at Berry College in Georgia who is studying business and construction management and considering a career in the CIA.

"It's a great way to recruit new people," agreed Melissa Mudd, who is studying criminal justice at the University of Maryland's University College.

William Villalobos, a junior at George Washington University studying international affairs, and whose studies have focused on the Middle East, has had a lifelong dream of serving in the CIA. He, too, found the CIA recruiting site through Facebook.

"I wanted basic information about the job, and to see if there were any opportunities," he said. "Joining the group says a lot about who you are as a person, and what your interests are."

Spying on Potential Employees?

Other companies also use Facebook to reach potential hires. But the idea of the CIA hosting a group and attracting candidates via Facebook has raised eyebrows among civil liberties groups, which worry that the government agency is gathering private facts on those who express interest in being hired.

The CIA denies such speculation, and Facebook's privacy policy says outside companies do not have access to personal information or profiles.

Neff says the CIA's ad on Facebook will run through February.

ABC News' Vija Udenans contributed to this report.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: The fake baby a man was carrying as he and another woman tried to sneak into the mother and baby unit at Mercy Medical Center in Merced, Calif., hospital officials said.
Dignity Health Security/Mercy Medical Center Merced
Leopard Cub Chills in a Basket
Odd Anderson/AFP/Getty Images
PHOTO: U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers at the George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston stopped a would be smuggler from bringing nearly 7 ounces of cocaine into the country in tamales, Aug. 22, 2014.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
PHOTO: Giant panda Bao Bao celebrates her first birthday at the Smithsonians National Zoo, Aug. 23, 2014.
David Galen, Smithsonians National Zoo