Dataminr uses Twitter firehose access to inform law enforcement about protesters


Despite having promised in 2016 not to facilitate domestic surveillance, the AI startup Dataminr used its firehose access to Twitter to alert law enforcement to social media posts with the latest whereabouts and actions of demonstrators involved in the protests following the killing of George Floyd. Dataminr's investors include the CIA and, previously, Twitter itself. Twitter's terms of service ban software developers from tracking or monitoring protest events. Some alerts were sourced from local and national news reporters' accounts, but many came from accounts belonging to ordinary bystanders, whom the system calls "eyewitnesses". In a recording of a Dataminr staff meeting that was obtained by The Intercept, managers attempted to explain why the company's efforts to monitor First Amendment activity on behalf of the police were not surveillance.

Writer: Sam Biddle

Publication: The Intercept