The ACLU of California just released an alarming report on Geofeedia, a social media tool that marketed itself to law enforcement as a way to track and monitor protesters and activists. In emails released by the civil rights organization, the company touted “special access” to user data from Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and told law enforcement it monitored protest activity in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, where unrest had broken out after the police-involved deaths of young black men—Mike Brown and Freddie Gray, respectively.
The ACLU report goes on to suggest the incidents are part of a broader trend of using social media to monitor protests and activists with little debate or regulatory oversight. In response to the report, Twitter said it was suspending Geofeedia’s commercial access. Instagram cut off the tool’s access to public posts, and Facebook cut access to topic-based feeds of public posts.