Map: Social Media Monitoring by Police Departments, Cities, and Counties

November 16, 2016

Social media monitoring products are becoming an increasingly popular tool among local governments and police. Social media monitoring technology provides the capability to constantly monitor and archive information on millions of people’s activities, and can be used by law enforcement to probe posts on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for information on protests, potential threats, breaking news, and more. This map depicts cities, counties, and law enforcement agencies across the United States that have spent at least $10,000 on social media monitoring software, according to public reports and information from the government procurement database SmartProcure. To jump directly to the procurement records, click here.

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  • Total jurisdictions covered: 157
  • Jurisdictions with publicly available policies on the use of social media for investigative and/or intelligence purposes: 18
  • Total amount spent by all jurisdictions: $5,826,199.76
  • Top five spenders
    • Pittsylvania County, VA: $306,389.42
    • Florida Department of Law Enforcement: $195,844.36
    • County of Los Angeles: $194,625.00
    • Virginia Department of Emergency Management: $181,568.64
    • Harris County, TX: $153,900.00
  • Examples of abuse:
    • The Oregon Department of Justice and police in Oakland, CA monitored prominent figures of the Black Lives Matter movement by tracking hashtags on social media.
    • Without informing city government or the public, the Seattle Police Department paid $12,900 to software company Geofeedia, violating a provision mandating City Council approval for any purchase of surveillance equipment. 
    • In correspondence with the Fresno, CA, police department, a representative from software company Media Sonar proposed a list of keywords to scan in order to “identify illegal activity and threats to public safety,” including “dissent,” “BlackLivesMatter,” and “WeWantJustice.”

Last updated: April 5, 2017