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DHS, Social Networks and Emergency Awareness

| 03.27.2012 | 08:15:198101 |
January 2012: (Hat tip to PolicyMic. A recent report out from Reuters outlined the current ongoing program at the Department of Homeland Security to monitor social networks with the intention of collecting "information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture". The networks include Twitter, Facebook, Hulu, Wikileaks as well as sites like Drudge Report, Huffington Post and others.
According to the New York Times, as far back as 2009, the federal government was using contractors to monitor sites. DHS, the Times wrote, "monitors the Internet for information about emerging threats to public safety like a natural disaster or a terrorist attack."

Reuters added "such monitoring is designed to help DHS and its numerous agencies, which include the U.S. Secret Service and Federal Emergency Management Agency, to manage government responses to such events as the 2010 earthquake and aftermath in Haiti and security and border control related to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia."

At heart is the Publically Available Social Media Monitoring and Situational Awareness (Initiative) which is under the direction of the Offices of Operations Coordination and Planning, and the National Operations Center both under the aegis of DHS.

DHS does not keep permanent records of the traffic it monitors and through documents reported by Reuters, the agency's goal is to provide "more accurate situational awareness, a more complete common operating pictures (sic), and more timely information for decision makers."