Tracy Clayton

(The Root) — What do you talk about most on Twitter? Your love of Subway sandwiches? Painful gas and bloating? The pork shoulder you caught on special at Target? Be careful — phrases as innocuous as those could get you put on a terrorist watch list.


The Department of Homeland Security recently released a list of words and phrases that it monitors in online chatrooms, forums and comment sections, and on Twitter. Some words on the list, like "jihad" and "al-Qaeda," make perfect sense. The use of others, however, such as "subway," "gas," "pork" and "target," could result in the DHS stepping quietly on your First Amendment rights by monitoring tweets that have nothing to do with terrorism.

The DHS says it is working to produce a clearer, more up-to-date list. In the meantime, a private contractor is being paid more than $11 million to monitor the words on the list and weed out potential threats from everyday chitter-chatter.


Read more at Slate.

Tracy Clayton is a writer, humorist and blogger from Louisville, Ky.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter