APIs from Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were used to arrest Baltimore protesters

According to a new report from the ACLU of Northern California, police in Baltimore used a social media surveillance tool called Geofeedia to arrest protesters. Geofeedia uses Facebook, Twitter and Instagram’s APIs to create real-time maps of social media activity, such as in a protest areas. The ACLU report argues that as protests escalated, police monitored social media posts with Geofeedia representatives and in some cases, ran photos through facial recognition software to identify protesters with outstanding warrants. After being contacted by the ACLU in September, both Facebook and Instagram revoked Geofeedia’s access to their APIs, while Twitter sent the company a cease and desist letter and says it no longer has commercial access to Twitter’s database.

+ “Most users of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram know the social media services as platforms for sharing thoughts or images with friends. But companies such as Geofeedia and others collect and analyze social media data to help their own customers track emerging online trends,” with users often unaware of how their posts are being used (Washington Post)