Should a proposed government database of top influencers raise concern for Black media professionals in the age of Trump?
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security posted a notice on Tuesday to hire contractors to develop a database of journalists, editors, foreign correspondents, and bloggers to identify top “media influencers,” Bloomberg Law reported.
DHS wants to monitor news sources—from online, print and broadcast outlets to trade and industry publications. The federal agency, which is tasked with protecting the nation from terrorism among other responsibilities, wants to track media coverage in more than 100 languages around the world.
This comes against the backdrop of Congressional Black Caucus members quizzing the FBI and DHS about an FBI report, titled “Black Identity Extremists Likely Motivated to Target Law Enforcement Officers,” which was written by FBI agents in August.
The report was acquired by Foreign Policy and shows that government officials are worried that Black activists will seek retaliation against law enforcement officers due to the rise in high-profile police brutality incidents.
If history is any indication, this new effort to monitor influencers could be a cause for concern for Black bloggers, podcasters and others expressing certain views about social justice. Under the government’s infamous Cointelpro program (Counter Intelligence Program) of the 1960s and ‘70s, Black influencers were monitored and Black social justice movements disrupted.
Looking outside the nation’s boarders, some lawmakers are discussing the need for such a database in the context of fake news and what they see as bias news coverage that conflicts with U.S. interests, according to the news outlet.
Responses from contractors are due April 13. So far, seven companies expressed interest in taking on the project.