The US city of Chicago is raising eyebrows after it was reported that city officials will be spying on people’s social media profiles in order to enforce a new emergency travel order.
The order, announced in July, is meant to prevent the rampaging COVID-19 crisis from getting even worse. It mandates that residents from certain US states must quarantine for two weeks if they come to Chicago. The list of naughty states is a long one:
Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wisconsin, Missouri, North Dakota and Nebraska.
If you’re a resident of one of those states, Chicago authorities may be monitoring your social media pages.
“One of the easiest ways to sort of get enough proof that there was the potential of a violated quarantine order without me having to send out an inspector or do any sort of more aggressive follow up to collect that is to look at social media,” admitted one Dr. Allison Arwady.
If you leave evidence on your Facebook page that you have violated the order, prepare to be issued a citation. Here is Dr. Arwady again:
“They’re in any of the states that violated our order and then a few days later, they’re in Chicago, and they’re clearly out in Chicago, not just back, but at a restaurant or at the Bean or whatever it may be, and they’re posting about that — that’s an example of where we could use that as proof to issue citations.”
Anticipating the inevitable Orwell references (they do get tiresome after a while, do they not?—especially when they’re made by the kind of autocratic minded right wingers that Orwell so despised), Dr. Arwady denied that what Chicago is analogous to the sort of tactics employed by Ingsoc.
“I don’t want to like overemphasize that we’re somehow Big Brother in monitoring people’s social accounts: we’re absolutely not doing that,” she said. “But where we already have a concern, it’s one of the easiest ways to identify people who are not just breaking the travel order but flaunting it publicly.”
Of course, it’s never a good sign when people defend themselves against a charge that has not been made. Maybe it’s time to ditch social media and go back to 2 way radios for a while; pretty sure they can’t use those to track our movements.