The Department of Homeland Security is creating a method for monitoring the activities of new sources, creating a database of individuals ranging from journalists to editors to bloggers to identify “media influencers.” The agency is seeking a contractor to monitor news sources and social media, identifying “any and all” coverage related to the department or specific events.
Additionally, the data being collected will be used to determine a publication’s “sentiment,” geographical spread, circulation, momentum, and top posters.
As part of the “media monitoring” program, DHS intends to track over 290,000 publications across the globe as well as social media in more than 100 languages, according to a report by Forbes.
The database is being designed to be browseable by “location, beat and type of influencers.” The contractor is being asked to “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications the influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”
According to DHS, the “NPPD/OUS [National Protection and Programs Directorate/Office of the Under Secretary] has a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach Federal, state, local, tribal and private partners.”
The request has come to light during a period of heightened concern regarding the accuracy of media and the ability for foreign entities to influence US policy and elections with the use of “fake news.”
Seven companies have already expressed interest in the contract, seeking an opportunity to become the selected vendor. Responses will be accepted until April 13, so additional organizations may throw their hats in the ring.
It isn’t clear what DHS intends to do with the information once it is collected. Beyond the posting itself, the agency has made no further comment on the issue at this time.