Nassau County officials are enlisting social media users to report suspicious posts pertaining to terror threats with a smartphone app. Launching the “See Something Say Something” Campaign on recently, county reps pointed to the recent attacks in San Bernardino, CA and an email threat to the Los Angeles Unified School District as prime reasons for the need in monitoring social media.
“With U.S.-led coalitions stepping up its fight against ISIS, we must remain attentive and vigilant here in the homeland,” County Executive Ed Mangano said.
The program asks social media users, via Facebook, Twitter, etc., to send potential threat tips to the Nassau County Crime Stoppers App via a screenshot or text from their mobile devices. Analysts in the Nassau County Police Department’s Counter Terrorism Intel Office monitor and data-mine social media activity, in partnership with neighboring law enforcement agencies, including the NYPD, MTA and Suffolk County police, to thwart potential issues.
“A top priority in this department is preventing a terrorism act in Nassau County,” acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter said. “We are asking the assistance of the public. If you see something suspicious, we ask that you forward that information as quickly as possible.”
More than 20 civilian analysts and nine detectives sift through social media postings daily for threats, according to Det. Sgt. Patrick Ryder, commanding officer of the Asset Forfeiture Intelligence unit. He mentioned geofeedia and LifeRaft, two of the many location-based social media monitoring softwares that the county utilizes. However, Krumpter indicated the county could not break through platform’s privacy barriers unless subpoenas or court orders are issued.
“We have several different platforms that we use,” Ryder said. “They put [posts] in chronological order. We can intercept tweets, set up a geo-fence, filter it through code words and can go into these communities and pull out those that may have extreme views.”
Tips are investigated by Ryder’s unit. Krumpter said if the alert leads to an arrest or conviction, the anonymous tipsters could receive a $5,000 reward.
“If someone sees some threat, a radicalized view on Facebook, don’t assume that we know about that,” Krumpter stated. “If they’re identifying with ISIS, Al Qaeda, we want to know. Provide that screenshot. Send it to the tips line and give us the opportunity to investigate that. Even if they’re not making threats, but are identifying with radical views, we need to know.”