On Saturday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) wants to monitor bloggers, journalists and so-called “media influencers” through a database.
According to the report:
The DHS’s “Media Monitoring” plan, which was first reported by FedBizOpps.gov, would give the contracting company “24/7 access to a password protected, media influencer database, including journalists, editors, correspondents, social media influencers, bloggers etc.” in order to “identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.”take our poll - story continues below
The database would be designed to monitor the public activities of media members and influencers by “location, beat and influencers,” the document says.
The chosen contractor should be able to “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the influencer.”
Nothing scary about this, right? After all, what could possibly go wrong with a government entity tracking those of us who write news and/or opinion?
Lest anyone think there’s something not quite right about any of this, DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton issued a tweet calling it “standard practice.” And anyone thinking otherwise is a tinfoil-hat conspiracy theorist:
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
— DHS Spokesperson (@SpoxDHS) April 6, 2018
Houlton’s tweet was soundly criticized by many:
Tyler, learn to address members of the public in a professional manner or find another job.
— Melanie (@MikeTango22202) April 6, 2018
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." [George Santayana]
We learned the hard and bad way in germany. 😔Be smarter!
— Michael Postler🎯📣 (@IT_Postler) April 9, 2018
Yes, believe it or not…
Some engaged in a bit of word play:
DHS is so hungry for information about the media it just Goebbels it up
— Fake Dean Acheson (@FakeDeanAcheson) April 6, 2018
Yeah I don't see what the fuhrer is about
— Fake Dean Acheson (@FakeDeanAcheson) April 7, 2018
You get the idea.
One person noted:
Sorry @SpoxDHS, but most Americans don't trust the gov't… and rightfully so!
— Advancing Colorado (@Advancing_CO) April 9, 2018
Fox News added:
The chosen company must have the ability to track more than 250,000 global news outlets in more than 100 languages, with the “ability to create unlimited data tracking, statistical breakdown, and graphical analyses on ad-hoc basis.”
Contractor bids are said to be due April 13.
Writing at Forbes, Michelle Fabio said the DHS move would give opponents of a free press too much information on individual reporters and said the move is “enough to cause nightmares of constitutional proportions, particularly as the freedom of the press is under attack worldwide.”
Meanwhile the DHS wants us to think this is just part of the “new normal…”
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