Social media surveillance software used by cops faces backlash

Geofeedia bills itself as a way for marketers to reach potential customers through geotagged "hashtag listening," but they also sell it to police departments for "predicting, analyzing and acting on social media conversations," like, say, peaceful protests.

Following a series of public record requests, ACLU of California's Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director Nicole Ozer published a troubling summary of the findings: "It goes without saying that speaking out against police violence or government overreach shouldn't land you in a surveillance database. But it can, and it does." Last year they found that Fresno police were using a Geofeedia competitor to monitor hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter, #DontShoot, #ImUnarmed, #PoliceBrutality, and #ItsTimeforChange.

The New American has also been following this for several years:

Local police departments are using software developed by a CIA-funded company to monitor citizens' social media posts and their physical locations in real time 24 hours a day. Stories from across the country have revealed that several local law enforcement agencies — in Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Oakland among others — and corporations — the Mall of America and McDonald's — have purchased surveillance software from a company called Geofeedia. The program will inform police of the physical location from which you made your last social media post. It will provide the content of your posts, too.

In wake of the recent developments, some social media platforms are pulling back from allowing companies like these to have access to their data.

Police use of social media surveillance software is escalating, and activists are in the digital crosshairs (ACLU)

Image: Geofeedia promotional video still