Twitter vs the US government

By : |May 9, 2016 0

The battle between tech companies and the federal government is making different variations, affecting social media platform widely. After Apple and WhatsApp, Twitter has also started raising privacy concerns but in a different way.

Twitter has blocked US Intelligence agencies from their “Dataminr service”, which analyzes the entirety of its social media posts and sends out alerts of unfolding terror attacks, political unrest, and other potentially important events.

According to Wall Street Journal report, Twitter blocked intelligence agencies from accessing the tool because “Twitter appeared to be worried about the optics of seeming too close to American intelligence services,” said a senior intelligence official familiar with the matter.

Twitter owns a 5 percent stake in Dataminr which is the only service that has access to the real-time network’s full stream of current and historical tweets – so there aren’t many alternatives available for the government to work with.

CIOL Twitter vs the us government

In Twitter’s transparency report, the U.S. government’s number of data requests from the social media platform saw a 65 percent increase in the last six months of 2015 where Dataminr received a total of 5,109 requests compared to the same time period in 2014 with 2,879 requests and 1,717 requests in 2013.

Dataminr said its service is used by private firms in sectors like finance, news, corporate security and crisis management. The company noted that it notified its clients about the Brussels attacks on March 10, minutes ahead of news media, and has also provided timely alerts on ISIS attacks on the Libya oil sector, as well as the Brazilian political crisis. In 2013, Dataminr was used by the Presidential Inauguration Committee to track potential threats to President Barack Obama’s second term inauguration ceremony.

In a statement to the WSJ, Twitter said, “data is largely public and the U.S. government may review public accounts on its own like any user could.”

The problem with Twitter’s decision to block intelligence agencies’ access to Dataminr is that it reduces their ability to seek out insights about potential dangers to the society through legal methods.

Michael S. Smith II, chief operating officer of the security consulting firm Kronos Advisory said, “The volume of the group’s activity on Twitter yields a vast amount of data that is a crucial tool for counter-terrorism practitioners working to manage threats. Twitter’s decision could have grave consequences.”

Twitter data is becoming increasingly important in intelligence agencies’ investigations. And while Twitter is looking to shut out government agencies, Dataminr has a separate $255,000 contract to provide its breaking news-alert service to the Department of Homeland Security, which is still in force.

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