U.S. government regularly monitoring news blogs, social media

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security regularly monitors dozens of websites, including Facebook, Twitter, WikiLeaks, YouTube, and even the New York Times Lede Blog, Global Voices Online, and the Blog del Narco, in order to "collect information used in providing situational awareness and establishing a common operating picture," reported Reuters on Thursday, Jan. 11.

This week the Homeland Security's National Operations Center (NOC) published a full list of the monitored websites. Besides the the New York Times Lede Blog, other news sites and blogs on the watch list include the Huffington Post, the Drudge Report, a couple of Wired blogs, ABC News' investigative blog "The Blotter," and Ushahidi Haiti.

The NOC’s Media Monitoring Initiative, approved in November, means the government "can collect personal information from news anchors, journalists, reporters or anyone who may use 'traditional and/or social media in real time to keep their audience situationally aware and informed,'" according to RT.com. The monitoring has been going on at least since June 2010, Reuters said.

Anne Hart speculates for AllVoices that the monitoring initiative is really about keeping tabs on potential whistle blowers and journalists who might report the leaks.

According to the Chicago Examiner, the initiative has "serious implications for not only journalistic freedom, but to all Americans', freedom."