The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring social media in an attempt to be aware of information being leaked about classified operations. The intent is also to have a quick, up-to-date picture of the events of the world. "Traditional Media outlets provide unmatched insight into the depth and breadth of the situation, worsening issues, federal preparations, response activities, and critical timelines. At the same time, Social Media outlets provide instant feedback and alert capabilities to rapidly changing or newly occurring situations." (DHS Document, Section 1.1.1)

This monitoring has National Operations Center (NOC) analysts identifying uses of certain keywords and terms. These terms range from things as ominous as "anthrax" to words as common-use as "pork". A full list can be found at the DHS Analyst Desktop Binder in section 2.13.

One might think that this is a major invasion of privacy, however it seems they're only monitoring things posted on public social networking mediums such as facebook, twitter, and blogs. And they also seem to be taking care of the privacy issue by stating that any personally identifiable information (PII) needs to be removed before submitting it in a report: "Before sending out ANY reports, including IOIs [IOI=item of interest], analysts must ensure that if there is any PII included in a media article, that information must be removed, due to privacy issues!" (DHS Document, Section 3).

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) recently filed a law suit against the Department of Homeland security because they believe that the DHS is monitoring social media in an attempt to identify dissent amongst the population. Despite claims by the DHS to the contrary, EPIC still believes that they continue to monitor for dissent. More information can be found here.

Six of the special keywords were used within this article, and many more are used in this website, so perhaps the Department of Homeland Security is watching us right now.

DHS Analyst Desktop Binder
Electronic Privacy Information Center