Tech

Police Scans Facebook, Twitter and Other Social Media Networks Using Surveillance Tool

By Edge Ison , Oct 13, 2016 03:32 AM EDT

A tool that allows law enforcement to check up on protesters and activists has incurred the ire of citizens. Geofeedia is accused of selling information to the authorities.

The analytics start-up firm uses data from popular social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to place a certain location under surveillance. The location-based analytics platform can also access data feeds from nine other social media platforms. Through this tool, users can search for all social media posts and other content in a specified area.

This was first reported by the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU. The group mentioned that Geofeedia lets the police "sneak in through a side door" to get a better feel of protests and mobilizations. The number and intensity of protests have increased in recent years due to the alleged racism among the police line. A number of African-Americans have lost their lives because of what is believed to be racial profiling and overreaction from the authorities. ACLU claims to have proof that the police used Geofeedia to monitor the protests in Oakland and Baltimore.

Activists are up in arms regarding this new app that is being utilized by the police to determine the possible actions and thoughts of protesters gathered in a specific area. They say that the tool violates their civil rights particularly their privacy and individual rights.

Facebook and Twitter, who reiterated that they were unaware of the actions of Geofeedia, have made strides to counter the start-up. A spokesperson from Facebook signified that they have already terminated Geofeedia's access to their data as well as Instagram's and Topic Feed's APIs. The start-up's commercial access to Twitter data feeds have also been suspended as announced in a tweet by the company's public policy team.

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