Big Brother is has been watching your social media posts in the Golden State, especially if you’ve been Tweeting, Facebooking of Instragramming about protests, cops in many California cities [including Oakland, Sacramento, and San Diego] are reading what you write and looking at your pictures and videos.
From the American Civil Liberties Union:
The ACLU of California has obtained records showing that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram provided user data access to Geofeedia, a developer of a social media monitoring product that we have seen marketed to law enforcement as a tool to monitor activists and protesters.
We are pleased that after we reported our findings to the companies, Instagram cut off Geofeedia’s access to public user posts, and Facebook has cut its access to a topic-based feed of public user posts. Twitter has also taken some recent steps to rein in Geofeedia though it has not ended the data relationship.
Further steps are required if these companies are to live up to their principles and policies by protecting users of all backgrounds engaging in political and social discourse. So today the ACLU of California, the Center for Media Justice, and Color of Change are calling on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to commit to concrete changes to better protect users going forward. Read our letters here and here.
We first learned about these agreements with Geofeedia from responses to public records requests to 63 California law enforcement agencies. These records revealed the fast expansion of social media surveillance with little-to-no debate or oversight.
But as we continued to comb through thousands of pages of documents, we saw emails from Geofeedia representatives telling law enforcement about its special access to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram user data.
In one message, a Geofeedia representative tells police that the company has arrangements with Twitter and Instagram for user data. Right after that, the representative promotes a product feature that “covered Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success.”