DHS to set up policies for monitoring Twitter, Facebook

When the U.S. Department of Homeland Security receives information about potential threats to the U.S., agents may turn to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Caryn Wagner, undersecretary of the Department of Homeland Security, told an audience Monday at the National Symposium on Homeland Security and Defense in Colorado Springs, Colo., that the agency began to draw up guidelines for monitoring social networking sites after the sites were heavily used during in the Middle East and North Africa this year.

According to an report Tuesday, federal agents are still mulling how to best pull intelligence from social media sites and determine whether it is valid or Web chatter.

"We're still trying to figure out how you use things like as a source," the AP reported Wagner as saying. "How do you establish trends and how do you then capture that in an intelligence product?"

The DHS, whose mission is to protect the country from terrorist attacks, isn't actively monitoring or Twitter. However, when the agency receives a tip about a potential threat, agents will scour public sites for information.

According to the report, the DHS is working to set up rules for pulling information from social media sites without infringing on U.S. citizens' privacy.