DHS seeks intelligence on "domestic threats" from Twitter traffic

Popular uprisings in the Mideast and North Africa, and now, Occupy Wall street: all examples of popular unrest powered in part by Twitter and other online social networks. In response, the U.S. government is reported to now be developing guidelines for culling intel from social media, according to a Homeland Security official.

Department of Homeland Security Undersecretary Caryn Wagner said the use of such technology in uprisings that started in December in Tunisia shocked some officials into attention and prompted questions of whether the U.S. needs to do a better job of monitoring domestic social networking activity.

"We're still trying to figure out how you use things like Twitter as a source," she said. "How do you establish trends and how do you then capture that in an intelligence product?"

Wagner said the department is establishing guidelines on gleaning information from sites such as Twitter and Facebook for law enforcement purposes. Wagner says those protocols are being developed under strict laws meant to prevent spying on U.S. citizens and protect privacy, including rules dictating the length of time the information can be stored and differences between domestic and international surveillance.

More at The Associated Press (thanks, @newyorkist via Lucy Kafanov).


  1. So, there were no guidelines before, but she promises that they haven’t been looking at social media. Booooooogus!

    As someone said during Philly’s meeting to pick the site of the protests, “Just remember, we are being watched”.

  2. Those skill sets are, imho, usually mutually exclusive. Twitter bores the kinds of hands-on people that actually DO the sorts of things that yield terrorism. 

    Targeting twitter etc… only makes sense if you’re afraid of talk, which seems to be the case.

  3. I’m curious at what point the concept of “radically restructure government, reduce law enforcement, increase civil liberties, and empower citizens to fight radical capitalism” will be considered a “domestic threat”.

  4. Someone should tweet (unquoted) “EXEC sp_MSforeachtable @command1 = “DROP TABLE ?” #occupywallstreet #ows” or something similar that would actually work. (I have no idea how to write code)

  5. One of the biggest “domestic threats” to America IS the Department of Homeland Security.  Sort of like the old house unamerican activities committee was very unamerican.   DHS should be abolished.  If we need some government agency snooping around in someones underwear drawer we still have the FBI, DOJ, DEA, etc..

  6. I sometimes feel sorry for people in intelligence. Here’s all this information that people are blasting into the public sphere via whatever bit of social media, but they get shit for even thinking about looking at it. Until, of course, something happens and then come the “look the attackers had a Facebook group how did you not see that?” questions from the Senate Subcommittee on 20/20 hindsight.

  7. I had read the full Article at the AP and I can tell you this just but reading it two times,the Government is afraid of us plain and simple. DHS,The White House,Obama and the Government in general always praises Egypt and Syria and other countries that use Social Media to try and say “Hey Bad Shit is happening to us,Help Us” And or take matters to their own hands and help organize a Protest and Our Government is ok for other countries to do such,YET THEIR SOOOOOOOO FUCKING TERRIFIED WHEN US THE AMERICAN PEOPLE DO SO! Something is wrong with that logic don’t you agree?

  8. IT’s all well and good to support populist uprisings till said uprising wants to overthrow you.

    Sad thing is #OWS isn’t looking for overthrow. Just a redress of wrongs and to seek a balanced living arrangement.

  9. Dear DHS: You haven’t found any domestic terrorists because if there in fact are any, they have outsmarted you at every turn. Mostly because you are an elephant and they are flies.

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