The Brennan Center released documents Wednesday from the Los Angeles Police Department shedding light on the services being marketed by social media monitoring firm Voyager Labs to law enforcement. The records, obtained through a freedom of information lawsuit, illuminate Voyager’s own services and offer a broader window into the typically secretive industry of social media monitoring.
The documents raise serious concerns about how the use of such products by police threatens First Amendment rights and has a disproportionate impact on Muslims and other marginalized groups, as well as whether companies like Facebook and Twitter are living up to their promises to keep surveillance companies from misusing data in ways that violate the platforms’ terms of service.
In its sales pitches, Voyager declares that it can assess the strength of people’s ideological beliefs and the level of “passion” they feel by looking at their social media posts, their online friends, and even people with whom they’re not directly connected. The company also claims that it can use social media and artificial intelligence tools to accurately assess the risk to public safety posed by a particular individual.
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