Updated: 05/30/2012 7:51 AM
Created: 05/29/2012 8:26 PM KSTC45.com | Print Story
By: Ellen McNamara
Do you type words like target, snow, airport or blizzard on social media sites? Believe it or not, the words could trigger an investigation from the Department of Homeland Security.
The department released a list of more than 300 words investigators watch for on social media sites, and recently, the list has gotten a lot of attention online.
The word watch list from the Department of Homeland Security surprises a number of social media savvy customers at Nina's coffee shop in St. Paul.
"Some of these are hopelessly general," Will Howell said.
Howell recently traveled on an Amtrak train. Amtrak is on the list.
"On Twitter and Facebook, and in email communications, I wrote in great detail about traveling Amtrak, and on the metro, and visiting certain ports," Howell said. Metro and port are also on the list.
The list has different categories of words. Words like Al Qaeda, nuclear, and target are in the terrorism group. Tsunami, tornado, wildfire, and even the words cloud and help are in the weather disaster category. Crash, police, and exercise are in the domestic security category.
"Exercise is one that sticks out," Corinna Ranweiler said.
Ranweiler is not concerned, though. After college, she cut herself off from social media sites.
Although the list is out, the Department of Homeland Security says they are only concerned about context and patterns.
"The words themselves don't mean much of anything until you look at them with other words in the sentences," Howell said.
Just because you type one of the words on a site, does not mean you will start a federal investigation. To see the entire list, look at pages 20-23 here.