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Comments Submitted to the Federal Trade Commission on Social Media Monitoring

On November 21, the Brennan Center for Justice submitted comments to the FTC, detailing Meta and Twitter’s inadequate enforcement of their surveillance policies and urging the FTC to hold formal sessions to obtain more information.

Last Updated: November 28, 2022
Published: November 22, 2022
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On November 21, 2022, the Brennan Center’s Liberty & National Security Program submitted comments in response to the Federal Trade Commission’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking on commercial surveillance and data security practices. The comments address Meta and Twitter’s enforcement of their policies prohibiting developers from utilizing user data for surveillance purposes or sharing user data with law enforcement. Despite these policies, some social media monitoring tools still seemingly have developer access and continue to sell Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter users’ data to law enforcement agencies across the country. The tools provide police departments with millions of datapoints, such as live feeds of all publicly available posts or all public posts within a geographical area related to topics chosen by law enforcement. Police departments have used their enhanced capabilities through these tools to monitor protestors, target communities of color, and construct detailed maps of personal connections. The Brennan Center’s comments argue that more information is needed on how Meta and Twitter enforce their surveillance policies and urge the FTC to take action to create a public record about these practices.