The Department of Homeland Security has launched a new early warning system to help identify potential domestic terrorism threats. Officials told NBC News that the system will not focus on the identity of individual people but will instead track broader trends and narratives being pushed across various public social media platforms.
"We're not looking at who are the individual posters," a senior official said. "We are looking at what narratives are resonating and spreading across platforms. From there, you may be able to determine what are the potential targets you need to protect."
The agency does not plan to seek warrants to identify individuals behind anonymous posts and said it would be left to the FBI to decide if a criminal investigation is necessary.
The program comes in the wake of the insurrection attempt at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 as officials hoped to prevent another incident from occurring. One of the officials said that they used information gleaned from social media as justification to boost security around Capitol Hill leading up to the inauguration of President Joe Biden.
John Cohen, the assistant secretary of homeland security for counterterrorism, told members sitting on the House Homeland Security subcommittee on counterterrorism that the goal of the project is to "identify emerging narratives as early as possible and assess whether those narratives are likely to influence acts of violence and how fast they're spreading across multiple platforms."
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