The FBI now has access to a tool that monitors the entire output of Twitter, which exceptional analytical tools that help provide the fastest newsbreaks. The gravity of the importance of Twitter became more evident when the social media platform alerted America about the Brussels terror attack ten minutes before the first report came from the news media. The bad news is that extremist maniacs have also used the platform to recruit and promote propaganda.
Last February, 125,000 ISIS Twitter accounts were busted using Twitter's technology. In total, 360,000 extremist accounts were suspended between 2015 and 2016. More pressure to control violence and propaganda was realized when ISIS accounts celebrated the Orlando Massacre all over Twitter.
The FBI has signed a contract with Dataminr, a company that sorts through Twitter newsfeeds and organizes trending topics. Dataminr will provide the agency with tools and licenses for 200 agents to use its technology. In addition, Dataminr agreed to provide 24-hour support in another agreement.
In the binding contract, the FBI contends that Twitter is a safe harbor for “terrorist organizations and other criminals to communicate, recruit, and raise funds for illegal activity.” The contract's objective is “To provide the FBI with a tool that offers near real time access to the Twitter 'firehose' so that the FBI may obtain the most current information available in executing its law enforcement and intelligence missions.”
The only problem is that allowing the FBI in violates the fine print of Twitter's Developer Agreement, which states that the platform will not use tweet data to “investigate, track, or surveil Twitter's users.” Bernie Sanders recently publicly criticized the FBI for meddling with the Presidential election.
Twitter owns five percent of Dataminr. This gives the FBI more clearance than even the CIA. Last May, Twitter banned the CIA from using its Dataminr tool for intelligence.
Visibility comes at a steep price nowadays, and only one percent of tweets are actually made public, however the FBI can see virtually everything. The decision to allow the FBI to use its security software signals a shift towards valuing national security over safety and privacy.
Beware what you Tweet...