ACLU: Baltimore Police Used Social Media to Make Arrests During Riots

BALTIMORE, Md. (WJZ)– A surprising new report from the ACLU details how police monitored social media to arrest people during the Baltimore riots. It includes claims they used facial recognition to find people with outstanding warrants.

Privacy advocates worry surveillance of social media could have a damaging effect on free speech.

The company Geofeedia claims police used their service to monitor people’s social media accounts in key locations. Even going so far as using facial recognition software to arrest people with outstanding warrants.

“If that’s true, that’s appalling and terrifying,” said David Rocah with the ACLU.

The ACLU uncovered promotional material from Geofeedia that uses Baltimore as a case study. Citing a County officer who was assisting City police.

In the study, the officer claims he used social media track a group of students who “had already hijacked a metro bus and found their backpacks full of rocks, bottles, and fence posts. They planned to do a lot of damage.”

Rocah says he’s concerned about social media surveillance.

“It is simply not okay for law enforcement agencies to be subjecting us to surveillance without out knowledge and consent,” said Rocah.

City police are already under fire for failing to disclose a new aerial surveillance pilot program.

The Baltimore Sun learned Geofeedia has contracts with police in Baltimore City and County, Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, as well as the city of Laurel.

“Without any public knowledge, input, consent, debate or anything,” said Rocah.

Now the ACLU wants answers about how it’s being used. Baltimore police officials tell WJZ they are not commenting because they haven’t had a chance to review the ACLU documents.

Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have now revoked Geofeedia’s access to their data.

More from Meghan McCorkell

One Comment

  1. Kathryn says:

    it is called SOCIAL media- it is online and there is no expected privacy. If you do not want the whole world to see and forever have access to it, do not post it on social media of any sort or discuss it in a chat room etc.. Social media is out in public the same as walking down the street and what law enforcement sees in public can and will be used against you. So…if you and your buddies are going to loot & torch a store, better not take and post selfies or do it where others out in public can. If you get caught because someone posted it on Facebook, so sad too bad you should not have done it.

  2. GetOffMyLawn says:

    This is some sort of abridgement of criminals rights? You continue to make your causes and your city a giant tragic joke.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

More From CBS Baltimore

Track Weather On The Go With Our App!
Your Podcast Network
CBS All Access

Listen Live