Story at a glance:

  • The Los Angeles Police Department has directed officers to collect social media information from civilians.
  • Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts are used as part of “investigations, arrests, and prosecutions.”
  • Information used can map someone’s whereabouts.

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has authorized its officers to collect social media information on every civilian they interview, even if they are not arrested or accused of a crime, according to The Guardian and a new report.  

The report by the Brennan Center for Justice analyzes internal documents from the LAPD. The nonprofit group found that, since the LAPD’s 2015 Social Media User Guide, the “department encourages social media monitoring but has issued little guidance and imposed minimal oversight over officers’ surveillance on social media platforms.”

LAPD officers are instructed to record someone’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media accounts when filling out their basic biographical information, according to The Guardian. Further, Police Chief Michael Moore reportedly pressed employees to collect the data to use in “investigations, arrests, and prosecutions,” according to the outlet. 


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In its report, Brennan Center for Justice says it believes these field interview cards could pave the way for unlawful mass surveillance.

“There are real dangers about police having all of this social media identifying information at their fingertips,” Rachel Levinson-Waldman, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program, told The Guardian.

The data gets submitted to Palantir, a system that LAPD uses to aggregate data from an array of sources to increase surveillance and analytics, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.

Palantir can be used to map someone’s whereabouts and personal relationships. It can also be used to check someone’s DMV records, license plate reader data, employment data, arrest records, field interview card data and other sources. 


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Published on Sep 08, 2021