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FBI Wants Tech to Track Social Media for Criminals and Terrorists Before They Act

Published: July 31, 2019
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Source: Nextgov

The Federal Bureau of Investigations aims to acquire access to a “social media early alerting tool” that will help insiders proactively and reactively monitor how terrorist groups, foreign intelligence services, criminal organizations and other domestic threats use networking platforms to further their illegal efforts, according to a request for proposal amended this week. 

“With increased use of social media platforms by subjects of current FBI investigations and individuals that pose a threat to the United States, it is critical to obtain a service which will allow the FBI to identify relevant information from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other Social media platforms in a timely fashion,” the agency said in the RFP. “Consequently, the FBI needs near real-time access to a full range of social media exchanges in order to obtain the most current information available in furtherance of its law enforcement and intelligence missions.”

Though the request was initially released on July 8, the FBI amended it this week to extend the relevant dates: The agency’s answers to vendors moved from July 25 to Aug. 7, and the proposal due date shifted from Aug. 8 to Aug. 27. Though the original proposal listed the anticipated award date as Aug. 30, it could be pushed back due to these changes. 

Still, the proposal comes at a time when society is growing accustomed to the painful reality of the weaponization of social media outlets to cause harm. Earlier this year, a mass shooter in New Zealand opened fire at two mosques killing 50 people and injuring many more—he posted a 74-page manifesto and images of his weapons online ahead of the attack and livestreamed the shooting directly on Facebook Live. And the shooter who killed three people at the Gilroy Garlic Festival in California Sunday also previously posted online about an 1890 racist manifesto, which has been deemed a “staple among neo-Nazis and white supremacists on extremist sites.”

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