The Secret Service is tasked with protecting those at the highest level of political office, but if you spot a threat to a presidential candidate on Twitter, don’t bother tweeting your concerns to the agency.
A number of death threats aimed at President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney surfaced amid the 6.5 million tweets sent in relation to Monday’s debates. It’s the job of the Secret Service to investigate such remarks.
It wants to keep abreast of the types of comments made on Twitter, though with more than 400 million tweets sent daily it can’t actively monitor everything that happens by itself.
“We’re not an intelligence agency – we’re consumers of information,” spokesperson Ed Donovan told the Los Angeles Times. “We cast a wide net for information, and that includes law enforcement agencies, federal agencies and the general public.”
The Secret Service is often tipped to threatening tweets by people using the handle @SecretService as they retweet the questionable messages. Yet the agency would prefer that Twitter users called in threats instead.
Donovan said the agency wants to hear of potential threats as soon as possible without having to rely on Twitter (the only social network where it has an account). Once such tweets have been discovered, the agency will then determine whether they are actual threats and if it wants to prosecute the person behind it.
Authorities charged an Atlanta man with threatening to kill Obama following a tweet calling for his death last month. Meanwhile, a teen’s personal information was released after he threatened Obama on Twitter.
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