The Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked interested vendors to propose “social media early alerting” tools 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.”

In the FBI’s statement of objectives, it acknowledged that “virtually every incident and subject of FBI investigative interest has a presence online” and the mission is to enable the Bureau to “proactively detect, disrupt, and investigate an ever-growing diverse range of threats” on social media.

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American citizens’ initial response may be concern with regard to their privacy and civil liberties. However, the Bureau’s synopsis of the project states “The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) intends to award a firm fixed-price contract for the purpose of acquiring subscriptions services to a social media early alerting took in order to mitigate multifaceted threats, while ensuring all privacy and civil liberties compliance requirements are met.”

Nextgov.com released an article reminding us that we are “at a time when society is growing accustomed to the painful reality of the weaponization of social media outlets to cause harm.” Citing specific events, the article reminds us that earlier this year, a mass shooter in New Zealand who opened fire at two mosques killing 50 people had “posted a 74-page manifesto and images of his weapons online ahead of the attack.” He also streamed the shooting on Facebook live.

Just last week the man who shot and killed three people at a food festival, the annual ‘Gilroy Garlic Festival’ in California had posted a racist manifesto from 1890 online prior to his killing spree. The FBI has extended the window for proposals from potential vendors to August 27th, and the anticipated award date to assign a contract is currently August 30th although it could also be pushed back.