Twitter Terminates Access to Surveillance Materials for Client Privacy

Twitter Terminates Access to Surveillance Materials for Client Privacy

Privacy when using social media is something that the social media platforms guarantee. Due to this, people tend to write and express every single feeling, move or step they intend to make on the media. Totally, unaware of agreements that are between the social media platforms and their government. It has come to light that government authorities have direct access to whatever is transmitted through the social media. Twitter has just gone forth and terminated its authorization issued to the relevant authorities aimed at surveillance purposes.


This monitoring service is used to monitor social activities on social media platforms. The service is owned and run by twitter. Its main functionality involves the use of the service by fusion centers to get or acquire access to data transmitted through the social media platform directly. It offers real time access to all the tweets made on a daily basis, has access to filtering options or tools and many more priveledges. This is a part of agreement, which is there between social media platforms such as twitter and the government; information collected by Dataminr is later shared with the government. This information includes specific capabilities of the Dataminr Service i.e. location tracking of a specific tweet and the individual, organisation, or place that the tweet originated if it is a public place, special keywords used to conduct searches on tweets made etc. the use of this surveillance tool is what Twitter is now prohibiting.

Monitoring Service

Prohibition Decision

This is a major step even for twitter as the information the service provides is fundamental to ensuring personal safety of the public. However, after the investigation that was conducted in relation to the means and devices that the law enforcement is known to use as a way of monitoring and tracking people known to be activists and protestors. This was specifically conducted with the ACLU or the American Civil Rights Liberties Union or Northern California. The organisation posted and shared this specific news on its blog on Thursday.

Through its data privacy policy, Twitter prohibits the use of information posted on its platform for surveillance purposes. This is one of the main reasons that people trust the platform with each passing day. However, as the ACLU shared on its posts, a spy center owned by the government has access to this information through the Dataminr service or tool. This offers the government access to all the geospatial intelligence, which is a violation of the privacy code that Twitter prides in having.

Prohibition Decision

The prohibition decision that limits government and its customers for easy access to the information shared on social media comes in light of the above information. Twitter in a letter says that it is no longer committed towards offering or collaborating with federal, local or government tools aimed at surveillance or acquiring access and violating individual rights. The letter was written by Twitter to the ACLU organisation after it shared its findings on its blog posts.

Way Forward

Twitter in a letter written to the ACLU organisation revealed some of the major steps that it has taken to limit this kind of access by fusion centers. It also received detailed instructions on the restructuring of the Dataminr Service and tool towards achieving the same outcome. Since the step is something that the government and its customers are against, Twitter now offers to issue information that is tailored and not direct connection to the public information made on tweets. Furthermore, the information will be acquired in form of alerts based on what is tweeted on the social media platform.

Dataminr, the social service also stood up for itself and wrote a similar letter to the ACLU. It said that it is also committed to public and individual privacy and above all civil rights and is committed to their protection. It has indicated that it is closely working with the mother company Twitter towards safeguarding and protecting people and organisations information or social media activities.

Twitter’s vice president Collin says that he is committed and that the company is committed to working with third parties and other developers towards improving and addressing transparency, privacy and other concerns that may arise now and in the future. Similarly, they will work with other services just like Dataminr to provide equitable and transparent services. Aggressive steps and specific measures will be taken against those who violate these rights, which may include suspension of rights to access any information.

Twitter Steps

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Earlier in the year, Twitter had taken a step towards removing rights to access to data provided by some of its services i.e. Snaptrends and Geofeedia. This goes to show how our authority underrates public and individual privacy although to some extent, monitoring can be what is needed to ensure that we are safe. The type of monitoring and the results or outcomes that come from it is what people are against. In some cases, that severe or hash treatment as a result of a specific tweet meant to raise public interests is what is being advocated against. People have the right to express themselves and the social media provides the best place to be heard. Do not limit our access to social media and privacy should be guaranteed.