Friendly Advice: Don't Tweet About Bombs
Those of you not in DC probably can't relate but every day on my commute back from work (which happens to cross paths with NSA headquarters), I have the pleasure of witnessing the shell of the new DHS headquarters near Bolling Air Force Base coming to life. "Headquarters" doesn't really do it justice. "Compound" is more like it. The funny part? They built it in Anacostia (bad enough on its own) on top of the grounds of a former hospital for the insane. How fitting. The $3.4 billion project is the largest federal construction project since the Pentagon.
Anyone see where I'm going with this?
The Department of Homeland Security makes fake Twitter and Facebook profiles for the specific purpose of scanning the networks for 'sensitive' words - and tracking people who use them.
Simply using a word or phrase from the DHS's 'watch' list could mean that spies from the government read your posts, investigate your account, and attempt to identify you from it, acccording to an online privacy group.
The words which attract attention range from ones seemingly related to diseases or bioweapons such as 'human to animal' and 'outbreak' to other, more obscure words such as 'drill' and 'strain'.
The DHS also watches for words such as 'illegal immigrant'.
The DHS outlined plans to scans blogs, Twitter and Facebook for words such as 'illegal immigrant', 'outbreak', 'drill', 'strain', 'virus', 'recovery', 'deaths', 'collapse', 'human to animal' and 'trojan', according to an 'impact asssessment' document filed by the agency.
When its search tools net an account using the phrases, they record personal information.
It's still not clear how this information is used - and who the DHS shares it with.
Really, were there any doubts? The government is in the business of staying in business, which means needing a project to feel useful, such as hoarding the tweets of known dissidents and incendiaries. I honestly and truly hope they enjoy tracking my cat pictures and traffic complaints.
The only way to combat this invasion of privacy (as private as what you say to the entire Internet can be, that is) is to have every American man, woman and child with a Twitter account tweet the offending words. Repeatedly. Until the DHS Mother Brain is so overwhelmed with information, it shorts out and collapses on itself.
That'll at least buy us a few weeks.