Geofeedia app denied access to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over tip-offs to US police

Protesters rally at the sight of riots in Baltimore in April 2015. SHAWN THEW / EPA
Protesters rally at the sight of riots in Baltimore in April 2015. SHAWN THEW / EPA

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have revoked access to their data to an analytics firm accused of selling information that allowed US police to track activists and protesters.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said Chicago-based Geofeedia had allowed police to “sneak in through a side door” to monitor protests.

Geofeedia said it was committed to the principles of personal privacy.

It comes amid growing concern about government access to social media.

ACLU said Geofeedia had been marketing its services to police agencies to help track activists using location data and social media posts.

The group said it had seen internal documents in which Geofeedia said that it “covered Ferguson/Mike Brown nationally with great success,” referring to protests which erupted in 2014 after an unarmed African-American man was shot dead by police.

“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,” the group said in a statement.

“We know for a fact that in Oakland [California] and Baltimore [Maryland], law enforcement has used Geofeedia to monitor protests.”

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