Popular Tags


Facebook, Twitter and Instagram facilitate surveillance of US government

During the last five years, analyst firm Geofeedia had access to information about users of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and all this time had been selling the data to US authorities.

Those, in turn, in such a way tracked down members of mass protests and trapped those who were just about to take to the streets. All this became known from the report released on Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union, which had previously addressed the social networks with a request to stop cooperating with Geofeedia. Companies complied with that request.

The American Civil Liberties Union released a report which states that the largest US social networking site Facebook, Twitter and Instagram had been providing access to information about users for Geofeedia for several years, which then had been selling this information to the authorities. The latter, in turn, used the information to track the participants of mass protests. At the time of publication of the report, all three social networks had ceased cooperation with Geofeedia, having responded to the request of human rights defenders.

As follows from the document, the authorities used the data obtained during the unrest in Ferguson and Baltimore. As soon as the protests became widespread, the police began to actively monitor social networks in real time, while checking the photos from the accounts on a match with their own database of persons who have already committed an offense. Apart from the posts on Facebook or Twitter police received users' geolocation data. As an example, Human Rights Watch cites a case in Baltimore, where police detained students who have left the school in the middle of day to join the protesters. Later in their backpacks, according to the testimony of Sergeant Andrew Vaccaro, stones and bottles were found.

Nevertheless, these data have been received by the authorities illegally. The fact is that in the conditions of the agreement Facebook and Twitter with the developers it is very clearly stated that the sale, transfer or distribution of data about users of these social networks is prohibited. In any case, without the permission of the social networks themselves. However Geofeedia in correspondence with law enforcement has repeatedly said there is an agreement with both Facebook with Twitter. It is unknown whether it is true or not, but in September all three social networks have decided to stop any cooperation with Geofeedia and blocked them off the access to user data.



  • October 28, 2016 5:50 PM MSK