Crackdown On Social Media Surveillance As Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR) Terminates Media Sonar Account

December 12, 2016 - By Ruchi Gupta   ·   0 Comments

Media Sonar no longer has access to Twitter Inc (NYSE:TWTR)’s user data. This was confirmed by the microblogging site after it claimed its policies had been violated by Media Sonar. Media Sonar was started in 2012 in Ontario, Canada and has been providing police departments in the United States with social media surveillance tools. As Twitter terminates Media Sonar account, this will not be the first time the social media company is doing so as it has previously ejected two other firms offering similar services – Geofeedia and Snaptrends.

The termination of Media Sonar’s account comes on the back of revelations that the firm had encouraged police departments to conduct surveillance on Black Lives Matter activists. This was according to evidence which was released by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Millions of dollars in revenue hangs in the balance as Twitter terminates Media Sonar account

Police agencies in the United States are believed to have paid millions of dollars to social media surveillance firms. Twitter and Instagram are two of the most widely used sources of location-specific data which has been gathered by the social media surveillance firms. While the two other companies that Twitter had axed ended up laying off staff, it was not immediately clear what would happen in this instance as Twitter terminates Media Sonar account.

Twitter Inc

While offering its service to the police, the firm offered to assist law enforcers in identifying threats to public safety and illegal activity by using a tool that would flag keywords or keyword phrases that would reference prostitution, bullying or drugs. However, flagged keywords and keyword phrases also included ‘dissent’, ‘policebrutality’ and’ justicformike’. The latter was  referring to the shooting of Michael Brown in 2014 which lead to protests.

Twitter’s stand

Last month Twitter issued a statement declaring its stand on surveillance particularly with regards to protestors and activists.

“Our commitment to social justice is core to our mission. We prohibit developers using the Public APIs . . . from allowing law enforcement—or any other entity—to use Twitter data for surveillance purposes. Period,” Twitter spokesman, Chris Moody, wrote.

As Twitter terminates Media Sonar account, more social media surveillance firms are likely to meet the same fate if they continue violating terms and policies.

Twitter ended Friday’s trading session 0.05% up to close at $19.65 a share.

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By Ruchi Gupta

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