I just did something stupid (posted fiction about terrorism)

I foolishly copy+pasted a story-plot summary of my military thriller novel-in-progress into Google Translate, wanting to make use of some Google Translate features.

Then I realized this means Google now is tracking a *long *block of text containing triggering words like “terrorist,” “ISIS,” “Mossad,” “MI5,” “Hamas,” “bin Laden,” “nuclear weapons,” “suicide bomber,” etc.

Should I expect the FBI to knock on my door? Does Google Translate save all typed entries?

You just typed a lot of triggering words on the Internet. :eek: :smack:

(backs away carefully)

Yes, but this isn’t a Google website itself.

Back in Usenet days, some posters added the word “plutonium” to all their posts, hoping to swamp NSA computers. :rolleyes:

Google Translate uses https. What is expert opinion on whether NSA can read such traffic easily?

Does Google Translate save all typed entries?

As a general rule, Google logs everything they can possibly log. If you were signed in to a Google account at the time, then they know who you are. Otherwise, they probably logged your IP address and whatever ID they could get from your machine. But Google isn’t proactively looking for stuff to send to the FBI. The FBI would need to get a warrant to ask Google what they know about you.

Should I expect the FBI to knock on my door?

No. Lots of people are writing about these things for lots of different reasons. Whatever you publish online is out there, but just using the Google translate tool isn’t the same thing.

You should be safe … it’s not like you’re “materially participating” in terrorism, just advocating terrorism, and that’s not illegal.

The worst possible outcome is that you’ll be seeing a lot of ads for suicide bomber vests.

You just typed the same thing into the Straight Dope. They’re more likely to be looking here…

They can tell it is not an email or text message.

FYI - a friend took a pocket knife into a social security office after 9/11 and they placed him on their “terrorist list”. They later decided they did not need to place people with pocket knifes on a terrorist list. These lists get to be too long, then somebody has some common sense and suggests they go after REAL terrorists!


They can do it at the push of a button, if the Snowden revelations are to be believed.

You’d be surprised. It’s not that the FBI is knocking on the door of anyone who posts a bunch of keywords. But if you also traveled to Pakistan recently and you happen to have a Muslim name, it may well be part of the profile that determines whether you get secondary screening the next time you travel, or get a couple of agents asking for a routine interview. I had a client who was asked about the content of an email he sent fifteen years earlier when he returned to the country from travel in the MENA region.

More than that. It was popular to have a sig that got appended to each message (exactly like sigs here), in which people would put a lengthy list of words of the sort that OP lists.

Go into your Google history and delete it.


Alternatively, take some masking tape and cover up the areas of your monitor where your Google history would show these results.

Have you looked to see if there are any black cars parked on your street?
Or helicopters flying over your house?

These are the usual signs. :eek:

In Emacs, the command “M-x spook” would automatically generate a random list of said keywords.

Don’t forget to try adjusting the monitor height and angle to make sure the results remain covered!

This. Much like the auto-report for a $10k cash transaction that came up in the “how do I buy a car” thread, at worst it’ll be used as evidence against you if you get indicted for actually doing a terrorism. Assuming the OP isn’t a radical, the worst-case scenario is some NSA office flunkie gets the plot of the OP’s novel spoiled in the process of deciding that it was a false positive and the OP isn’t actually a threat to national security. At least I hope they run all the Echelon hits past a human before going to the expense of sending large men in dark suits to knock on somebody’s door.

nah, not yet, and as has been at least implied, not the FBI, but the NSA, you have your own satellite now.
How good are you with electronics and “faradaying” your home? plus, check your wrist watch and belt buckle, cell phone etc for hidden tracking devices/bugs