Hello Big Brother? Some Maine Police Departments May Be Monitoring Your Social Media Posts
Several Maine Police departments are under scrutiny for using a computer program that monitors your social media posts for key words and other triggers.
It's not quite 1984 by George Orwell, but the recent news of police departments in Maine using a controversial tool to track social media posts from the public have caused some to ask, "hello, big brother?"
According to the Bangor Daily News, the computer program at the center of outrage is called Geofeedia. It was initially developed in cooperation with the CIA, and is designed to find trigger words inside people's social media posts on platforms like Facebook and Twitter and alert authorities.
But as the police's use of the program has become more evident, public outrage has begun to boil. The program allows police to monitor a concentrated area for key words from public posts like "gun", "shots", or "police" for instance. The program can also use the GPS locator inside your smartphone to pinpoint your location.
Police in Maine say they aren't using the program as an initial resource for apprehending criminals. The South Portland Police Department has had the program for three years now with mostly insignificant results. The Maine State Police acknowledge the use of the program but wouldn't specify how that actively use it. Some other major departments in Maine, including Portland, Bangor and Lewiston do not use the program.
But it's also fair to question if the police are doing anything wrong. The posts that are corralled through Geofeedia are PUBLIC posts, meaning anyone could hop onto Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others and see the exact same information.
And then comes the other hammer. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram have broken off data sharing with the company after Civil Liberties Union in California filed paperwork suggesting the program was overstepping its bounds. For now, the major social media networks are not cooperating. Things could change.
So are you worried about big brother? If this program fails, will there be another one on the back burner ready to go? How far should police be allowed to go through social media in obtaining information? Let us know what you think...