The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to launch a warning system to detect “domestic terrorism” threats by gathering and analyzing intelligence on public social media posts and making predictions on future actions.
The purpose of the system is to detect the sort of posts that allegedly proceeded the breach of the US Capitol on January 6. Law enforcement agencies were criticized for ignoring or missing the posts.
“We’re not looking at who are the individual posters,” said a senior official involved in the effort said to NBC News. “We are looking at what narratives are resonating and spreading across platforms. From there you may be able to determine what are the potential targets you need to protect.”
He added that the objective was to “identify emerging narratives as early as possible and assess whether those narratives are likely to influence acts of violence and how fast they’re spreading across multiple platforms.”
It is not illegal for law enforcement agencies to analyze public social media posts without a warrant. However, civil rights groups are opposed to the idea of the government actively monitoring social media posts as it would have a chilling effect on free speech, and does not provide reliable intelligence.