Michigan police have started monitoring social media to track posts pertaining to the Flint water crisis, according to emails from Governor Rick Snyder's office. The online surveillance initiative is geared toward honing in on individuals who are making threats based on their frustration with the tainted water problem.
In one instance, criminal proceedings have already been initiated against a man who made threatening comments on Facebook about the local government. A state police email states that the individual had called for "civil unrest" and the burning of the governor's mansion.
Thus far, the police have not issued further comment on the matter or any other investigations that may come from their findings on social media. Michigan State Police Spokesperson Shanon Banner told MLive — The Flint Journal that the ultimate goal is to protect residents.
Although the state police are monitoring the situation on social media, there is already unrest offline to be found throughout Michigan. Snyder has been criticized heavily since the discovery of lead-tainted water in Flint, and protesters went as far as to publicly heckle the governor at dinner in Ann Arbor in February.
In an effort to relate to his citizens, Snyder promised to drink and cook with lead-tainted water from Flint for one full month on April 18.
"Flint residents made it clear that they would like to see me personally drink the water, so today I am fulfilling that request," the governor stated. "And I will continue drinking Flint water at work and at home for at least 30 days."
Following his announcement, critics took to social media networks such as Twitter to mock the governor's move. Some individuals called for the arrest of Snyder, while others simply asked him to resign. Many people stated that they distrusted the governor, and some residents claimed that they were "embarrassed" by his promise.
Snyder's office claims that state, federal and independent water quality experts believe that Flint's water quality is "improving." Furthermore, it is supposedly "safe to drink as long as a filter is in place." A protective coating is being added to Flint's pipes to provide better quality water for the local residents.