DHS Targets Dissent Through Social Media Spying

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BusinessmanFlickrInternets_dairyMEDIA ROOTS — The Electronic Privacy Information Center has obtained documents through an FOIA request detailing how the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) domestic spying program focuses primarily on media reports that are “critical of the agency and the U.S. government more broadly.”

This may be an unsurprising revelation, but these documents further expose the increasingly oppressive nature of the state and DHS to stifle free speech and target dissent under the umbrella of “‘national security.”



Civil liberties advocates are raising concerns that the Department of Homeland Security’s three-year-old practice of monitoring social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter could extend to tracking public reaction to news events and reports that “reflect adversely” on the U.S. government.

The activists, who obtained DHS documents through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, say one document in particular, a February 2010 analyst handbook, touts as a good example of “capturing public reaction” the monitoring of Facebook and other sites for public sentiment about the possible transfer of Guantanamo detainees to a Michigan prison.

With the explosion of digital media, DHS has joined other intelligence and law enforcement agencies in monitoring blogs and social media, which is seen as a valuable tool in anticipating trends and threats that affect homeland security, such as flu pandemics or a bomb plot.

But monitoring for “positive and negative reports” on U.S. agencies falls outside the department’s mission to “secure the nation,” said the Electronic Privacy Information Center, which obtained a copy of a contract and related material describing DHS’s social media monitoring through its FOIA suit.

Read more about DHS monitoring of social media concerns civil liberties advocates.

© 1996- The Washington Post


Photo by Flickr user Adam Selwood

One thought on “DHS Targets Dissent Through Social Media Spying

  1. I often hear, “I have nothing to hide from my government.. Why should I worry?”

    The person in danger is the person that stands-out on political issues or anyone who is viewed a adversarial to the government. The plain truth is that ,The War on Terror=The War on Opposition.

    The data amassed on just about anyone will be sifted until they find something or anything to put an end to you. This is the real purpose of data collection. As in the past demonstrated by dictatorships, No one is so pure that they can’t hang any of the myriad of broad offenses on you they will be used to discredit you.

    The data pool of political dissidents is so huge and growing that they cannot just round everyone up, but it will always be a consideration. If one becomes visible by participation the government has the means to quiet just about anyone… and we gave it to them with the passage of the DNAA..

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