Menu
Facebook, Twitter cut access to monitoring tool used by police

Facebook, Twitter cut access to monitoring tool used by police

Geofeedia has been marketing itself as a surveillance tool for law enforcement

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were handing over data to a monitoring tool that law enforcement agencies were using to track protesters, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

The social media analysis tool, called Geofeedia, had been harvesting posts from the social media networks for surveillance purposes, and more than 500 law enforcement and public safety agencies have been using it, the ACLU said in a Tuesday report.

Through a public records request, the ACLU found that Geofeedia had entered into agreements with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for their users' data.

In uncovered emails, Geofeedia said the tool was useful for monitoring protests in Ferguson, Missouri, involving the 2014 police shooting death of Mike Brown.

The ACLU is concerned that the tool can "disproportionately impact communities of color," through its monitoring of activists and their neighborhoods. Among Geofeedia's features is an interactive map of real-time Instagram posts showing user locations.

"These records revealed the fast expansion of social media surveillance with little-to-no debate or oversight," the ACLU said.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have all severed access to Geofeedia after learning about the tool's activities.

"This developer only had access to data that people chose to make public," Facebook said in a statement. The company, which also owns Instagram, has a policy prohibiting from its data being used in a search engine without permission.

Twitter said on Tuesday that it was immediately suspending Geofeedia's commercial access to the platform. The company already has a policy prohibiting developers from using its data for surveillance.

Chicago-based Geofeedia didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. But the company's CEO has asked to meet with the ACLU, according to the watchdog group.

A case study document uncovered by the ACLU shows that Geofeedia had a hand in helping law enforcement respond to riots following the death of Freddie Gray, who sustained a fatal injury while in police custody in Baltimore.

During the riots, Baltimore police used Geofeedia to alert them when rioters were targeting police vehicles and when a group of high school students -- carrying backpacks filled with rocks, bottles, and fence posts -- skipped class to attend a protest.

"In some cases, police officers were even able to run social media photos through facial recognition technology to discover rioters with outstanding warrants and arrest them directly from the crowd," the case study said.

"We plan to use the social media archive data from Geofeedia to prosecute as many law breakers from the riots as we can," a Baltimore police detective said in the case study.

However, the ACLU is encouraging social media companies to adopt clear policies banning developers from exploiting their data for surveillance needs.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Facebook

Featured

Slideshows

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel

Arrow Electronics introduced Tenable Network Security to local resellers in Sydney last week, officially launching the distributor's latest security partnership across Australia and New Zealand. Representing the first direct distribution agreement locally for Tenable specifically, the deal sees Arrow deliver security solutions directly to mid-market and enterprise channel partners on both sides of the Tasman.

Arrow exclusively introduces Tenable Network Security to A/NZ channel
Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel

Typically, the New Year brings new opportunities for personnel within the Kiwi channel. 2017 started no differently, with a host of appointments, departures and reshuffles across vendor, distributor and reseller businesses. As a result, the job scene across New Zealand has changed - here’s a run down of who is working where in the year ahead…

Examining the changing job scene in the Kiwi channel
​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?

Digital Transformation (DX) has been a critical topic for business over the last few years and IDC is now predicting a step change as DX reaches macroeconomic levels. By 2020 a DX economy will emerge and it will become the core of what New Zealand industries focus on. From the board level through to the C-Suite, Kiwi organisations must be prepared to think and act digital when the DX economy emerges in 2017.

​What are the top 10 tech trends for New Zealand in 2017?
Show Comments