Revealed: the social media terms monitored by Homeland Security

It’s common knowledge that security agencies and authorities monitor social networks as part of their routine intelligence gathering, and of course to help inform ongoing investigations. But what exactly are those agencies looking out for? Animal New York has published what it claims is the current list of words and phrases that grab the attention of one such agency, America’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS), based on an internal document released by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC).

The list is comprehensive, though not exhaustive – the documentation states that the words and phrases listed here are regularly added to as necessary. There are numerous categories into which the list is broken down, including Domestic Security, HAZMAT & Nuclear, Health Concern + H1N1, Southwest Border Violence, and various others.

Here’s a selection of some of the terms included on the list (you can see the full list here):

When these phrases are used in social media activities, they are automatically tracked as ‘items of interest’; the account that used the phrases may then be observed for further ‘interesting’ activity, and may be referred to DHS investigators for further scrutiny. In the vast majority of cases, of course, the use of these phrases in social media is wholly benign (you’re probably not going to be thrown in jail for mentioning that you have ‘flu’ for example, which is on the list), and it’s not as if DHS looks into every single use of each of these phrases; rather, they are monitored as part of a much broader range of measures that helps to identify threats and the people behind them.

So, while you're unlikely to be spending any time in Guantanamo Bay for mentioning that you just bought a new ‘watch’, or for mentioning that there are delays on the ‘subway’, or for telling your followers and friends that you got a ‘virus’, using lots of these red-flag phrases in conjunction with each other, and on a regular basis, may well get a bit more attention from the DHS. You have been warned.

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I just typed all those terms on a facebook post and twitter post followed by "ha ha got you with your pants down "

its obvious the government watch what people do you are stupid to think they dont or didnt... western civilization is becoming a dictatorship.. we are already losing our rights to privacy and free speech... in the end we will lose our "freedom" all together...

SPEhosting said,
its obvious the government watch what people do you are stupid to think they dont or didnt... western civilization is becoming a dictatorship.. we are already losing our rights to privacy and free speech... in the end we will lose our "freedom" all together...

What rights to privacy and free speech have you lost recently? Please name examples, if you can.

MattWeihl said,

What rights to privacy and free speech have you lost recently? Please name examples, if you can.

recently ? or the last 20years?
no warrant is needed to seize my computer, my emails/IMs, phone calls, text message and social networking information gets processed and will some of it is lost due to lack of legislation and gain of technology there are things like sites being allowed to track what you do, they are allowed to share your emails with people (alot of places ask now it is true but not everywhere does) and freedom of speech? have you seen what the government allows police to do to peaceful protesters? if you even try and express your rights to a police officer they will slap you up and throw you in a cell and throw some bull sh*t charge on you... the government may not say do it but they still allow it which is just as bad... SOPA for one and all of its children trying to push through the cracks... Im also filmed every time I go out side .and walk or drive ... and as a child young child I was tricked into giving up my finger prints along with a whole class of children saying how it would be fun and its a game! yea cause that was fair

SPEhosting said,

recently ? or the last 20years?
no warrant is needed to seize my computer, my emails/IMs, phone calls, text message and social networking information gets processed and will some of it is lost due to lack of legislation and gain of technology there are things like sites being allowed to track what you do, they are allowed to share your emails with people (alot of places ask now it is true but not everywhere does) and freedom of speech? have you seen what the government allows police to do to peaceful protesters? if you even try and express your rights to a police officer they will slap you up and throw you in a cell and throw some bull sh*t charge on you... the government may not say do it but they still allow it which is just as bad... SOPA for one and all of its children trying to push through the cracks... Im also filmed every time I go out side .and walk or drive ... and as a child young child I was tricked into giving up my finger prints along with a whole class of children saying how it would be fun and its a game! yea cause that was fair

SPEhosting said,

no warrant is needed to seize my computer, my emails/IMs, phone calls, text message and social networking information gets processed and will some of it is lost due to lack of legislation

Incorrect.. if this WERE true they wouldn't need to pass a SOPA / PIPA bill.. and WHO is "THEY"? Secret Service? If you have the attention of the SS in the FIRST place seizing your worthless computer, emails to grandma and 100 gamefly receipts, and text messages to your crack whore.. are the LEAST of your worries I can guarantee you that. Police can't seize without a warrant, FBI / SS and CIA probably have rights to do it, but by THEN it's called "probable cause" to haul you in on OTHER stuff and the warrant would simply be unncessary by that point

If you have NOTHING to hide, you have NOTHING to HIDE , PERIOD, Warrant or no warrant.

Question is WHAT..


not your silly sensibilities, and "fear factor" routine and crying wolf because you THINK the government will misuse this information..

WHAT, SPECIFICALLY, WHAT rights, what privacy, and WHAT free speech have you lost? not another pedantic rambling of some dork with no idea what it means, just cite SPECIFICS and FREEDOMS you no LONGER have as a result? You don't have a SINGLE one, why? Because you haven't LOST any.. imbecile! NOTHING, nada. You can go wherever you want, call whoever you want, leave the country (presumably) whenever you see fit.. scream at the top of your lungs.. do whatever you want, provided it doesn't trample on someone ELSE rights.. but you have LOST nothing.

Now sit down, go back to your measley couch, play your call of duty, because Adults are chatting!

SPEhosting said,

have you seen what the government allows police to do to peaceful protesters?

There is NO such thing as a peaceful protestor.. that's like saying a crocodile is a harmless predator.. there are TIMES when they are dormant but "hardly" peaceful. The very nature of "protesting" automatically breaks the law. Lets take the first step, shall we? Go down the courthouse steps, bring out a picket sign.. and protest. What happens? what are you doing? You have NO right.. to be on GOVT property protesting.. you can do IT across the street, but that's not very helpful you have to "impede" people ability to cross into the building to bring attention to your cause. Police show up.. and what do they do, put their picket signs and leave.. peacefully! No they argue they have a RIGHT to be there. NOT true, no permission.. police were called because you were anything BUT "peaceful". I love you cheerful idiots always use the peaceful protests to point out the COPS are the bad people.. when COPS are there to PROTECT and SERVE because OTHER citizens complained about the protesters, and they don't agree with their cause, so THEREFORE they want them GONE! You conveniently leave that part out. They resist arrest, yell at the cops, and are so worked up, they won't leave.. but watch ANY protest in America in the last 20 years.. ANY and I will bet you a month salary COPS do NOT arrest right away, they TRY to negotiate and plead the protesters FIRST, and who starts it? The peaceful protesters do, get your facts straight LITTLE BOY, because you watch too much TV. If they WERE non violent and peaceful they would leave.. peacefully they shouldn't NEED assistance of the cops.. but that is NEVER how it works, and the police ALWAYS get blamed because some stupid protestor starts throwing crap..

PLEASE, peaceful.. GTF out of here with this BS, you know NOTING of what you saying.

Edited by rijp, Feb 28 2012, 7:16pm :

rijp said,

Incorrect.. if this WERE true they wouldn't need to pass a SOPA / PIPA bill.. and WHO is "THEY"? Secret Service? If you have the attention of the SS in the FIRST place seizing your worthless computer, emails to grandma and 100 gamefly receipts, and text messages to your crack whore.. are the LEAST of your worries I can guarantee you that. Police can't seize without a warrant, FBI / SS and CIA probably have rights to do it, but by THEN it's called "probable cause" to haul you in on OTHER stuff and the warrant would simply be unncessary by that point

If you have NOTHING to hide, you have NOTHING to HIDE , PERIOD, Warrant or no warrant.

Question is WHAT..


not your silly sensibilities, and "fear factor" routine and crying wolf because you THINK the government will misuse this information..

WHAT, SPECIFICALLY, WHAT rights, what privacy, and WHAT free speech have you lost? not another pedantic rambling of some dork with no idea what it means, just cite SPECIFICS and FREEDOMS you no LONGER have as a result? You don't have a SINGLE one, why? Because you haven't LOST any.. imbecile! NOTHING, nada. You can go wherever you want, call whoever you want, leave the country (presumably) whenever you see fit.. scream at the top of your lungs.. do whatever you want, provided it doesn't trample on someone ELSE rights.. but you have LOST nothing.

Now sit down, go back to your measley couch, play your call of duty, because Adults are chatting!

There is NO such thing as a peaceful protestor.. that's like saying a crocodile is a harmless predator.. there are TIMES when they are dormant but "hardly" peaceful. The very nature of "protesting" automatically breaks the law. Lets take the first step, shall we? Go down the courthouse steps, bring out a picket sign.. and protest. What happens? what are you doing? You have NO right.. to be on GOVT property protesting.. you can do IT across the street, but that's not very helpful you have to "impede" people ability to cross into the building to bring attention to your cause. Police show up.. and what do they do, put their picket signs and leave.. peacefully! No they argue they have a RIGHT to be there. NOT true, no permission.. police were called because you were anything BUT "peaceful". I love you cheerful idiots always use the peaceful protests to point out the COPS are the bad people.. when COPS are there to PROTECT and SERVE because OTHER citizens complained about the protesters, and they don't agree with their cause, so THEREFORE they want them GONE! You conveniently leave that part out. They resist arrest, yell at the cops, and are so worked up, they won't leave.. but watch ANY protest in America in the last 20 years.. ANY and I will bet you a month salary COPS do NOT arrest right away, they TRY to negotiate and plead the protesters FIRST, and who starts it? The peaceful protesters do, get your facts straight LITTLE BOY, because you watch too much TV. If they WERE non violent and peaceful they would leave.. peacefully they shouldn't NEED assistance of the cops.. but that is NEVER how it works, and the police ALWAYS get blamed because some stupid protestor starts throwing crap..

PLEASE, peaceful.. GTF out of here with this BS, you know NOTING of what you saying.


needs more dragons and facts... to put it simply YOU are wrong and need to get something higher then a high school education...

and well done yes cops are there to protect but that is not always the case ALSO you blind fool.. protests that are violent start out peaceful they sre then joined by people who dont even represent the matter and the peaceful people then get f*cked over... Thank you for spending some time getting your fat greasy hands over the key bored but I think its time you returned to dungeon and dragons along with your girl friend (a.k.a your right hand) you mindless retard

Sadelwo said,
I wonder how many Battlefield 3/Windows 8 enthusiast were looked at for the word "Metro".

lol exactly. I mention Metro so much, they probably have a black van parked outside of my place right now!

Sadelwo said,
I wonder how many Battlefield 3/Windows 8 enthusiast were looked at for the word "Metro".


Oh, god. I hate it. I wish someone would drop a bomb on metro.

P.S. this is my last message for the next 5-10 years. /s

what a stupid thing to release, are they trying to make it easier for terrorists not to get caught or tracked.

jupe said,
what a stupid thing to release, are they trying to make it easier for terrorists not to get caught or tracked.
You don't really believe someone who can mastermind a large scale terrorist attack will stupid enough to post such things on facebook do you? The list was released for the sole purpose of getting this message across to the dumb population of America: We are watching you. Privacy is a myth. You don't need to be afraid of terrorists as much as you need to be afraid of us. Bwahahaaha!

jupe said,
what a stupid thing to release, are they trying to make it easier for terrorists not to get caught or tracked.

DHS is not responsible for the release of this information. Actually read the article.

gzAsher said,
You don't really believe someone who can mastermind a large scale terrorist attack will stupid enough to post such things on facebook do you? The list was released for the sole purpose of getting this message across to the dumb population of America: We are watching you. Privacy is a myth. You don't need to be afraid of terrorists as much as you need to be afraid of us. Bwahahaaha!

you obviously are so stupid yourself that you are aren't paying attention, they USE the social networks to embed messages.. hiding in plain site.. sheesh do you people actually READ the WHOLE article or just skim the highlights?

That's WHY they are monitoring the list of words. OBVIOUSLY the hit list is working that's WHY they are on the list.. umm.. HELLO?!?!?

Terrorists aren't smart or crafty.. just unforgiving and relentless... So the words have no meaning, they are just "CODE" for something else.. And since terrorists and 3rd world countries read western world stuff.. they KNOW the history.. and pretend to resent it, in fact they are USING the information to their advantage since most of these words are so "common".. it's easier to use something used by most of the world than to start over with NEW phrases and terms... You people aren't really thinking straight are you?

rijp said,
. You people aren't really thinking straight are you?

Actually, ignoring your insults, poor spelling and grammar, I would have to put forth the proposition that it is YOU who isn't "thinking straight". You are letting an irrational fear (of the boogey man known as "terrorism") control your thought processes...and likely your life.

I, on the other hand, am not afraid of terrorists. In a free society, and indeed a free world, there will always be crazy people who will "kick us in the shins" from time to time.

That is the price we pay for being truly free (which we aren't under the current security state nonsense).

This doesn't mean we shouldn't take adequate precautions and it doesn't mean we don't close security loopholes when we find them.

But, in truth, we knew we needed to secure the cockpit doors of aircraft for forty years, but the airlines and manufacturers lobbied the FAA to not force them to do this...to save a few thousand dollars per plane. Yes, for a handful money.

If the cockpit doors had been secured, 9-11 could never have happened.

And since those doors are now secured, it can't happen again.

And even when it did happen, the nation was not under any sovereign threat. Our borders, government, etc. was not in any danger. 99.9999999% of our citizens were not in any danger.

Unlike Pearl Harbor, for example, which wiped out most of our Pacific fleet and left the west coast of the United States open and vulnerable to invasion...a real threat to our way of life etc.

Instead we treated a horrifying terrorist attack (one that was far more successful than the plan to just light the towers on fire) as if it was the end of the world. And then we let our government take advantage of our fear to take away freedoms our soldiers had fought and died for since the founding of our nation (and for four centuries before that!).

So I don't fear terrorists. Their goal is to instill fear to get their agenda across. If we let them make us afraid, they have achieved their objective.

In short, terrorists and little cowardly men who turn to acts of violence to instill fear because they don't have the intellectual capacity to step forward and state their grievances before the court of opinion and civilized discourse.

No, I fear Big Brother and how He uses fear of Boogey Men to turn brave, powerful, fearless Americans into cowering, simpering, reactionary animals who will do whatever Big Brother wants.

That's about all I can fit into one sentence. Hopefully I don't go to jail.

After getting off my delayed airplane (thankfully it wasn't cancelled) and leaving the airport with 2600 other people in the terminal, I got on the metro which was powered by electricity, passed the port in Amsterdam and got off at the stop near the canal bus dock near Centraal station where I saw a woman from China that appeared to have the symptoms of the flu, which I was not worried about as I recieved a vaccine before I left for my trip to ensure I would not get sick.

As I was driving through the metro area on my way to the airport, I heard that DHS in conjunction with the Secret Service had discovered a new malware variant - it was a Trojan botnet that utilized multiple cyber attacks such as phishing, worms, and rootkits to black out/DDOS government websites such as the National Guard, Coast Guard, and United Nations. While I was driving, crossing a major river on a bridge, my attentioned turned to some strange activity at the port - shipping containers on the dock (usually filled with agricultural related goods - and even live animals, like swine) were being swarmed by at least 2600 ATF agents - I figured it was probably a gigantic drug bust. I didn't want to miss the excitement, but it appeared my plane was not going to be delayed, and I didn't want to cancel my flight, so I sped forward, applying as much power as legally possible to the accelerator pedal. Upon arriving at the airport, I proceeded to customs, as I was flying internationally. I sighed as I saw signs about the potential for avian flu, and a new requirement to get vaccinated against any possible infections - apparently viral haemorrhagic fever is quite nasty - very few people recover from that sickness. The symptoms sounded horrific, and I certainly didn't want to be the cause of a pandemic (even the Red Cross wouldn't be much use at that point), so I acquiesced to a vaccination and headed up the ramp to my airplane. As I was looking for my seat, I noticed a concealed gun as a man was stowing his luggage in the overhead compartments, and figured he was an air marshal. After stowing my luggage and finding a nice window seat to enjoy the…

Wait, is there someone knocking at my door? :goes to check:…

First it was **cancelled** and then there were a few **delays**, but I finally got a new computer which was flown in by **airplane**. I plugged the **power** cord into the laptop **dock**, then installed Windows 8 to try the new **Metro** UI. At first I thought I was going to cause a **brown out** because it used so much **power**, but it was OK. I plugged a cable into the ethernet **port** and then into a **bridge** to get on my Apple **Airport** wi-fi.


Yay! I got all in column 3!

Ugh, we have a code 2600 in progress, rapid outbreak of commentards on Neowin, get Agent Smith on the bridge immediately.

*DHS folds in on itself*

NateB1 said,
As I was driving through the metro area on my way to the airport, I heard that DHS in conjunction with the Secret Service had discovered a new malware variant - it was a Trojan botnet that utilized multiple cyber attacks such as phishing, worms, and rootkits to black out/DDOS government websites such as the National Guard, Coast Guard, and United Nations. While I was driving, crossing a major river on a bridge, my attentioned turned to some strange activity at the port - shipping containers on the dock (usually filled with agricultural related goods - and even live animals, like swine) were being swarmed by at least 2600 ATF agents - I figured it was probably a gigantic drug bust. I didn't want to miss the excitement, but it appeared my plane was not going to be delayed, and I didn't want to cancel my flight, so I sped forward, applying as much power as legally possible to the accelerator pedal. Upon arriving at the airport, I proceeded to customs, as I was flying internationally. I sighed as I saw signs about the potential for avian flu, and a new requirement to get vaccinated against any possible infections - apparently viral haemorrhagic fever is quite nasty - very few people recover from that sickness. The symptoms sounded horrific, and I certainly didn't want to be the cause of a pandemic (even the Red Cross wouldn't be much use at that point), so I acquiesced to a vaccination and headed up the ramp to my airplane. As I was looking for my seat, I noticed a concealed gun as a man was stowing his luggage in the overhead compartments, and figured he was an air marshal. After stowing my luggage and finding a nice window seat to enjoy the…

Wait, is there someone knocking at my door? :goes to check:…

I really hope the Fed / Secret Service do show up at your door just on pure stupidity... you write an article to "expose" yourself on purpose.. I hope you enjoy your 2 day of interrogation .. I am sure when you come back.. you will not think this is so funny..

rijp said,

I really hope the Fed / Secret Service do show up at your door just on pure stupidity... you write an article to "expose" yourself on purpose.. I hope you enjoy your 2 day of interrogation .. I am sure when you come back.. you will not think this is so funny..

In a country with constitutionally guaranteed protections of free speech and against unreasonable search and seizure, I think his paragraph (with spelling and grammar fixes) should be posted on everyone's Facebook page.

You see, fear is how they control people like you.

'...or for telling your followers and friends that you got a ‘virus', using lots of these red-flag phrases in conjunction with each other, and on a regular basis, may well get a bit more attention from the DHS'
Only if it's public. If it isn't then they won't find anything.

In other news, pigs still can't fly and the center of the Earth has failed to freeze over.

Honestly though, just because I'm a stranger to the people reading my personal messages, that not mean that someone isn't getting bad karma when they make people read my messages.

Brian Miller said,
2600?

The term comes from some of the earliest days of computer hacking (if you can even call it that).
Back in the 1960's, you could "hack" the phone system by sending a tone of a certain pitch down the line. The most famous of those pitches was 2600hz, which would reset the line and allow you to dial anywhere for free. It was also discovered that a whistle given away in "captain crunch" cereal packets happened to give that exact pitch needed. The term for this is "phreaking" and even though the phone networks have long since been upgraded, the 2600 name still lives on as a bit of a pseudo name for hacking.

Kushan said,

The term comes from some of the earliest days of computer hacking (if you can even call it that).
Back in the 1960's, you could "hack" the phone system by sending a tone of a certain pitch down the line. The most famous of those pitches was 2600hz, which would reset the line and allow you to dial anywhere for free. It was also discovered that a whistle given away in "captain crunch" cereal packets happened to give that exact pitch needed. The term for this is "phreaking" and even though the phone networks have long since been upgraded, the 2600 name still lives on as a bit of a pseudo name for hacking.

I just googled it and apparently there's a Hacker quarterly magazine called 2600 as well

Kushan said,

The term comes from some of the earliest days of computer hacking (if you can even call it that).
Back in the 1960's, you could "hack" the phone system by sending a tone of a certain pitch down the line. The most famous of those pitches was 2600hz, which would reset the line and allow you to dial anywhere for free. It was also discovered that a whistle given away in "captain crunch" cereal packets happened to give that exact pitch needed. The term for this is "phreaking" and even though the phone networks have long since been upgraded, the 2600 name still lives on as a bit of a pseudo name for hacking.

That's really interesting. I never heard of such a thing. lol

Kushan said,

The term comes from some of the earliest days of computer hacking (if you can even call it that).
Back in the 1960's, you could "hack" the phone system by sending a tone of a certain pitch down the line. The most famous of those pitches was 2600hz, which would reset the line and allow you to dial anywhere for free. It was also discovered that a whistle given away in "captain crunch" cereal packets happened to give that exact pitch needed. The term for this is "phreaking" and even though the phone networks have long since been upgraded, the 2600 name still lives on as a bit of a pseudo name for hacking.

That's really interesting. I never heard of such a thing. lol

smooth_criminal1990 said,

I just googled it and apparently there's a Hacker quarterly magazine called 2600 as well

Uh oh... Now you're on "the list".LOL..

smooth_criminal1990 said,

I just googled it and apparently there's a Hacker quarterly magazine called 2600 as well

Where do you think they got the name?