President Trump has shown an obsessive interest in how he and his administration are covered by the news media, often calling stories he doesn’t like “fake news.”
Now here is some real news: Trump’s Department of Homeland Security is planning to create a global database to track media coverage of some 290,000 outlets publishing in more than 100 languages, to include information on “journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top ‘media influencers,'” reports Bloomberg Law.
This means modern technology will be used to create a Big Brother-type information source that the government can use to track who writes about them or anything they want to know about, possibly to fact check or ultimately even to provide a list of which outlets need to be shuttered or censored by sometime in the future.
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Homeland Security isn’t commenting but Bloomberg Law accessed a call for vendors that seeks a contractor who can monitor news sources, social media and “any and all” coverage related to the agency or an event.
That is to include print, broadcast, cable, radio and online, including trade and industry publications, local, national and international outlets, and social media,
Bids are due April 13.
— DaleWillResist (@awelab1956) April 6, 2018
The data that is to be gathered is not just a listing, but also the outlet’s “sentiment,” its geographic reach, most active writers or posters, momentum, and circulation.
“Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers,” according to the Homeland Security request.
The winning bidder will set up an online “media influence database” that allows users to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence.
For each “influencer,” there are to be contact details and other relevant information, as well as an overview of that person’s previously published works.
The DHS request says the selected vendor will set up an online “media influence database” giving users the ability to browse based on location, beat, and type of influence. For each influencer found, “present contact details and any other information that could be relevant, including publications this influencer writes for, and an overview of the previous coverage published by the media influencer.”
DHS agencies, reports Bloomberg Law, have “a critical need to incorporate these functions into their programs in order to better reach federal, state, local, tribal, and private partners.”
This kind of far-ranging, comprehensive tool could simply be a resource to improve intelligence gathering but it could also become a scary way to prod, attack, censor and disrupt media that do not tow the Trumpian line.
“As part of its ‘media monitoring,’ the DHS seeks to track more than 290K global news sources as well as social media in over 100 languages… Unfortunately, increasing govt encroachment on the freedom of the press is the sinister backdrop to all of this.” https://t.co/7Zhq7nz7tQ
— Sarah Lerner (@SarahLerner) April 6, 2018
Considering how untrustworthy this president has proven himself to be, and how insidious much of the work done by his administration is, this could be a scary way for the increasingly authoritarian Trump regime to try and twist the flow of news to its liking.