During the Olympics, The Feds Will Be Reading Your Tweets -- And the Blotter

DHS is monitoring social media and web sites for Olympic security.

ByABC News
February 12, 2010, 8:40 PM

Feb. 13, 2010 — -- As the winter Olympics begin, the Department of Homeland Security has disclosed that it will be monitoring the comments and posts on websites and social media like Twitter for information on possible terror threats. Among the sites listed in a privacy impact statement filed Friday afternoon by DHS are the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post, Twitter, Google and this web site, the Blotter.

The National Operations Center of DHS will watch the web for information, according to the statement, to "provide situational awareness" in the event of natural disaster, an "act of terrorism, or other manmade disaster."

"The Olympics are a potential target for such events," said the statement. The statement did not list all web sites and social media that the NOC will monitor, but provided 31 examples, many of them, like the Blotter, sites that cover breaking news, security, or terror.

DHS officials say they will not be monitoring the web sites extensively, but would use the sites as a reference and open source tool in the event of an incident or emergency. DHS officials also used the monitoring of social media sites in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake to aid rescue efforts.

In one instance a DHS employee noticed a message on a web site about a person trapped under rubble in Port-au-Prince and was able to direct a State Department team to help in the rescue.

One official told ABC News that monitoring the web sites during an emergency is like watching "a canary in a coal mine," since social media sites can have real-time information. The official said the raw information that is available on the sites can help first responders and law enforcement officials make quick assessments to help in their response to events.

In one instance a DHS employee noticed a message on a web site about a person trapped under rubble in Port-au-Prince and was able to direct a State Department team to help in the rescue.

One official told ABC News that monitoring the web sites during an emergency is like watching \"a canary in a coal mine,\" since social media sites can have real-time information. The official said the raw information that is available on the sites can help first responders and law enforcement officials make quick assessments to help in their response to events. 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