Department of Homeland Security to compile a database of bloggers, journalists, social media and influencers
Be careful what you post on social media. The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is planning to start tracking and collecting data about social media users. According to the latest solicitation put out by DHS, the department is currently seeking a contractor to collect data on social media, bloggers, influencers and media outlets. With increasing fears of fake news and the impact of propaganda, the government wants to keep track of media outlets in an attempt to stop these misinformation campaigns.
The solicitation was posted on April 3rd. It calls for “Media Monitoring Services,” and the creation of a database to track over 290,000 “media influencers” around the world, including online news outlets, bloggers and prominent social network accounts. The monitoring service would identify contributor details (such as contact info and their employers), and would allow searching for individuals and outlets through categories like their locations, the focuses of their coverage and their sentiment.
The objective of the Media Monitoring Services is to: “Enable NPPD/OUS to monitor traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event. Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers. NPPD/OUS has a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach Federal, state, local, tribal and private partners,” DHS said.
This solicitation is still in early stages and the details are still vague and not yet fleshed out. This is a concern to the media and people and social media because it leaves an opening for collecting “any other information that could be relevant” about these influencers, and there’s no hint as to what that could be. The solicitation is broken down into five phases or tasks: Task one is about Online & Social Media Monitoring. The focus of Task two is on Media Intelligence and Benchmarking Dashboard Platform. Task three provides Email Alerts. Task Four gives the government Access to Mobile app capability. Task five and six are about Media Engagement and Customer Service respectively.
Bloomberg Law first broke the news. It said that seven companies have placed bids so far. The deadline for submissions is 13 April 2018. Reporters took to social media to complain about the report and suggested the solicitation was not true. In response, spokesperson Tyler Q. Houlton, confirmed the data collection, She said the following in a Twitter post: “Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists.”
Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media. Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists. https://t.co/XGgFFH3Ppl
— Tyler Q. Houlton (@SpoxDHS) April 6, 2018