The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is considering hiring private firms to analyze public social media posts for extremism “red flags”, sparking debate on such threat monitoring without violating the civil liberties of citizens.
The DHS and other law enforcement and intelligence agencies were blamed by the media for ignoring the signs of the Jan. 6 riot in Capitol Hill through content shared on social media platforms.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the DHS is considering hiring private firms to analyze public social media posts.
Sources claim that the effort, which is still under discussion and has not received funding, would involve sifting through public social media posts for narratives providing leads in potential attacks, whether by domestic or foreign actors.
“What we’re talking about now is dramatically expanding our focus,” said John Cohen, the DHS official spearheading the project.
However, the project has sparked debate within the agency and the White House on the balance between security efforts and the protection of civil liberties. Some feel that sifting through social media posts is governmental overreach, a concern shared by civil and digital rights advocacy groups.