This one will have the conspiracy fiends saying “I told you so”: new reports have come out that point to the US government, and the Department of Homeland Security more specifically, spying on Twitter users who use “sensitive” words.
The DHS has apparently created a watch list of words that are considered “sensitive”, and simply using a single one could put you on the government’s radar.
The Electronic Privacy Information Center, an online privacy advocacy group, is suing the DHS for the data that the Department has collected on Twitter and Facebook users.
Their complaint claims that the DHS will begin monitoring social media sites in February in an effort to “store and analyze the information gathered, and then to disseminate relevant and appropriate de-identified information to federal, state, local and foreign governments and private sector partners.”
And the ways in which the DHS is said to be spying on Twitter users are pretty nefarious.
For instance, the suit claims they are setting up fake profiles – like the ones that you normally brush off as spambots – to monitor individual accounts.
Plus, they’ve created a database of keywords and phrases that stand out as “sensitive”, such as:
- illegal immigrant
- human to animal
When they find an account using these words, they record it and any personal information associated with it.
It’s not clear whether simply using one of these words once is enough to get you on the government’s watch list, or whether you have to use a certain number within a period of time.
Still, it’s quite scary stuff, especially for those concerned with their online privacy.