March 15, 2022
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a report recommending an increased focus on scanning the social media accounts of its employees in order to detect “extremism.”
Among the examples of “extremism” cited by DHS are: a belief that fraud occurred in the 2020 election, and objections to current coronavirus policies.
A March 2021 unclassified threat assessment prepared by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI), Department of Justice, and DHS, noted that domestic violent extremists “who are motivated by a range of ideologies and galvanized by recent political and societal events in the United States pose an elevated threat to the Homeland in 2021.” The assessment pointed to newer “sociopolitical developments such as narratives of fraud in the recent general election, the emboldening impact of the violent breach of the U.S. Capitol, conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, and conspiracy theories promoting violence” that “will almost certainly spur some [domestic violent extremists] [sic] to try to engage in violence this year.”
The report shows increased DHS concern with rooting out “extremists” within its own ranks, including through monitoring the social media accounts of employees.
From the report:
Studies and pilots have suggested that certain online activity may represent behavior of potential concern to national security and could be useful in assessing an individual’s trustworthiness, judgment, or reliability. [Publicly Available Electronic Information], including social media checks, have proven to be of limited value as stand-alone sources of information. However, when coupled with and corroborated by other data and investigative follow-up, the use of PAEI can be a powerful tool in preventing and detecting domestic violent extremism-related threats.