The Department of Homeland Security is searching for contractors to work on a database monitoring journalists, bloggers and “media influencers” around the world.
The Chicago Sun Times reports that the contracting company will have “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”.
According to an RFI document for ‘Media Monitoring Services’ listed on FedBizOpps.gov, the public activities of journalists and other influential media figures would be searchable by location and beat.
The chosen company must be able to track more than 290,000 global news sources in more than 100 languages, including Arabic, Chinese and Russian, and have the “ability to create unlimited data tracking, statistical breakdown, and graphical analyses on ad-hoc basis”.
The Sun Times notes that the request comes at a time when there is concern about “fake news” being able to influence the democratic process.
But DHS spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton said in a tweet that the monitoring plan was merely “standard practice”.
“Despite what some reporters may suggest, this is nothing more than the standard practice of monitoring current events in the media,” he wrote. “Any suggestion otherwise is fit for tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists.”
Bids for the contract are due by 13 April.