The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now “monitoring” a number of popular websites, including Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks, the HuffPo, Drudge, JihadWatch and Wired Danger Room.
According to a federal document obtained by Reuters, the DHS has been operating a “Social Networking/Media Capability” since 2010 in an effort to keep tabs on various sites.
Well, the DHS is apparently interested in “collecting information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture.”
This apparently involves routine monitoring of publicly available online forums, blogs, public websites and message boards.
“[All the websites are] publicly available and…all use of data published via social media sites was solely to provide more accurate situational awareness, a more complete common operating pictures, and more timely information for decision makers,” read the DHS document.
A DHS official reiterated the document’s message, telling Reuters the surveillance program was specifically geared to help command center officials keep themselves updated about trending global topics to which the department might have to respond.
The DHS also confirmed the above-mentioned media list, but declined to offer further comment.
Of course, none of this comes as a particular shock in our post-Patriot Act United States. So the real questions are: what else is the DHS “monitoring” and what does it plan to do with this information?
Meaning, can a tweet or Facebook post critical of airport security (offcially) put you on an special travel watch list? Will support for OccupyWallStreet (OWS) or the Tea Party raise a red flag and be held against you? Only time will tell, of course, but we are fast approaching a time when extensive monitoring by Big Brother is the painful norm.