Social Media Surveillance

The data generated through peoples' use of social media becomes valuable intelligence to others, who want to monitor, profile, and manipulate.

19 May 2020
Researchers are scraping social media posts for images of mask-covered faces to use to improve facial recognition algorithms. In April, researchers published to Github the COVID19 Mask Image Dataset, which contains more than 1,200 images taken from Instagram; in March, Wuhan researchers compiled the
03 May 2020
The state of Utah gave the AI company Banjo real time access to state traffic cameras, CCTV, and public safety cameras, 911 emergency systems, location data for state-owned vehicles, and other data that the company says it's combining with information collected from social media, satellites, and
28 Apr 2020
The Israeli company Cellebrite, best known for providing hacking software to help law enforcement agencies get inside suspects' iPhones, is now pitching its technology to help authorities pull the location data and contacts off the phones of newly-diagnosed COVID-19 patients in order to "quarantine
09 Apr 2020
The risk detection company Dataminr has created an AI system that analyses social media posts to predict the next hotspots for COVID-19 outbreaks. The company claims it successfully predicted spikes seven to 13 days before they occurred - in the UK, in London, Hertfordshire, Essex, and Kent, and in
26 Mar 2020
The consumer and market trends insight company StatSocial announced Crisis Insights, which it claims tracks rapidly changing consumer audience dynamics to help US brands and CMOs respond effectively to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and economic slowdown. StatSocial's Silhouette social data
20 Mar 2020
To counter the many rumours, fake news, and hoaxes spreading in Myanmar, the country's Ministry of Health and Sports launched a website in collaboration with state and regional governments with videos about the virus, the latest data, and updates on the latest number of cases and lab results in
A 17-year-old Palestinian resident of Lebanon, Ismail B. Ajjawi, was deported shortly after he arrived at Boston Airport, where he was due to start attending Harvard University the following week. Immigration officers subjected him to hours of questioning — at one point leaving to search his phone
In February 2019, after investigative journalists used social media posts to investigate the country's hidden role in conflicts such as those in Ukraine and Syria, Russia began moving to ban its soldiers from posting any information that would expose their whereabouts or their role in the military
In October 2018, in response to questions from a committee of MPs, the UK-based Student Loans Company defended its practice of using "public" sources such as Facebook posts and other social media activity as part of the process of approving loans. In one case earlier in the year, a student was told
In November 2018, worried American parents wishing to check out prospective babysitters and dissatisfied with criminal background checks began paying $24.99 for a scan from the online service Predictim, which claimed to use "advanced artificial intelligence" to offer an automated risk rating
After an 18-month investigation involving interviews with 160 life insurance companies, in January 2019 New York Financial Services, the state's top financial regulator, announced it would allow life insurers to use data from social media and other non-traditional sources to set premium rates for
16 Nov 2017
In 2017, US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced that it would seek to use artificial intelligence to automatically evaluate the probability of a prospective immigrant “becoming a positively contributing member of society.” In a letter to acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary
17 Aug 2018
US Immigrations & Customs Enforcement (ICE) used social media monitoring to track groups and people in New York City associated with public events opposing the Trump administration’s policies, including ones related to immigration and gun control. The investigative branch of ICE created and
09 Jan 2019
The US government created a database of more than 50 journalists and immigrant rights advocates, many of whom were American citizens, associated with the journey of migrants travelling from Central America to the Mexico-US border in late 2018. Officials from Customs and Border Protection (CBP)
29 Apr 2019
A private intelligence company, LookingGlass Cyber Solutions, used social media to monitor more than 600 “Family Separation Day Protests” held across the United States on June 30, 2018, to oppose the Trump administration’s policy family separation policy. The policy was part of a “zero tolerance”
03 Jun 2019
Bahrain has warned its citizens and residents could face legal action simply for following social media accounts it deems anti-government, which raises concerns about the ability of Bahraini citizens and residents to exercise their fundamental rights and freedoms. In May 2019, a state terrorism law
04 Dec 2018
In Israel, the National Insurance Institute – in charge of granting benefits – eventually dropped a tender that had caused outrage in the country after being uncovered by Haaretz and Channel 13. The tender revealed the NII was trying to collect online data about benefits claimants – including from
08 Apr 2019
The rise of social media has also been a game changer in the tracking of benefits claimants. In the UK in 2019, a woman was jailed after she was jailed for five months after pictures of her partying in Ibiza emerged on social media. She had previously sued the NHS for £2.5 million, after surviving a
23 Nov 2009
The rise of social media has also been a game changer in the tracking of benefits claimants. Back in 2009, the case of Nathalie Blanchard a woman in Quebec who had lost her disability insurance benefits for depression because she looked “too happy” on her Facebook pictures had made the news. https:/
22 Aug 2017
In August 2017, it was reported that a researcher scraped videos of transgender Youtubers documenting their transition process without informing them or asking their permission, as part of an attempt to train artificial intelligence facial recognition software to be able to identify transgender
22 Nov 2018
In November 2018, the Spanish senate approved 220-21 an online data protection law intended to ensure compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation with an added amendment that allowed political parties to use personal data obtained from web pages and other publicly accessible sources for
21 Jul 2018
In July 2018, Facebook announced it was investigating whether the Boston-based company Crimson Hexagon had violated the company's policies on surveillance. Crimson Hexagon markets itself as offering "consumer insights". Its customers include a Russian non-profit with ties to the Kremlin, and
17 May 2018
In May 2018, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement abandoned the development of machine learning software intended to mine Facebook, Twitter, and the open Internet to identify terrorists. The software, announced in the summer of 2017, had been a key element of president Donald Trump's "extreme
09 Apr 2017
In a 2017 study of patterns of postings on Chinese social media, three Harvard researchers disagreed with the widespread claim that the government's strategy is to post "50c party" posts that argue for the government's side in policy and political debates. Instead, the researchers estimated that the
05 Apr 2015
Because banks often decline to give loans to those whose "thin" credit histories make it hard to assess the associated risk, in 2015 some financial technology startups began looking at the possibility of instead performing such assessments by using metadata collected by mobile phones or logged from
15 Oct 2016
In 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California published a report revealing that the social media monitoring service Geofeedia had suggested it could help police track protesters. The report's publication led Twitter and Facebook to restrict Geofeedia's access to their bulk data
14 Nov 2016
At the Sixth Annual Conference on Social Media Within the Defence and Military Sector, held in London in 2016, senior military and intelligence officials made it clear that governments increasingly view social media as a tool for the Armed Forces and a "new front in warfare". Social media are also
24 Nov 2015
Documents submitted as part of a 2015 US National Labor Relations Board investigation show that Walmart, long known to be hostile to unions, spied on and retaliated against a group of employees who sought higher wages, more full-time jobs, and predictable schedules. In combating the group, who
In 2015, The Intercept obtained documents showing that the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota used a fake Facebook account to friend and monitor local Black Lives Matter activists, and collect their personal information and photographs without their knowledge. The account was discovered in a
08 May 2016
Twitter requested one of its key B2B partners, Dataminr — a service that offers advanced social media analytics and early detection of major events like terrorist attacks or natural disasters — stop providing U.S. intelligence agencies with their tools and content. Dataminr isn’t ending its
03 Apr 2018
In 2016, researchers discovered that the personalisation built into online advertising platforms such as Facebook is making it easy to invisibly bypass anti-discrimination laws regarding housing and employment. Under the US Fair Housing Act, it would be illegal for ads to explicitly state a
01 May 2017
Facebook has come under fire after leaked documents revealed the social media site has been targeting potentially vulnerable children. The allegations suggest the company is gathering information on young people who “need a confidence boost” to facilitate predatory advertising practices