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Twitter Cuts Feds Off From Dataminr’s Services

Twitter is denying American intelligence agencies access to real-time data-mining service Dataminr, effectively throwing up a surveillance roadblack.

According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Dataminr has informed the agencies that Twitter, which owns a five percent stake in the company, did not want it to continue providing the service to them.

A senior intelligence official, who is “familiar with the matter,” told the Journal Twitter seems to be concerned about appearing to have too close of a relationship with American intelligence agencies.

The service was very useful to the federal government because it was a quick and reliable source.

“Dataminr transforms the Twitter stream and other public datasets into actionable signals, discovering must-know information in real-time,” the company said.

“Using powerful, proprietary algorithms, Dataminr instantly analyzes all public tweets and other publicly available data to deliver the earliest signals for breaking news, real-world events, off the radar context and perspective, and emerging trends.”

For instance, Dataminr notified the government about the Brussels attacks 10 minutes ahead of news media, making it “an extremely valuable tool” to detect events in real time, the senior intelligence official said.

Twitter told the publication its policy prevents all third-parties from selling its data to a government agency for surveillance purposes. The company did not comment on why it took it so long to put a kibosh on that.

“Data is largely public and the U.S. government may review public accounts on its own, like any user could.” the company said in a statement to the media.

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  • Thanks for the great news story. At this point in time, I think ANY social media company who appears to be working with the Federal Government instantly becomes less appealing to it’s user base in terms of privacy and security of its users data. While this fear is a little on the irrational side, it’s still a product of the current culture so Twitter is just exercising self preservation tactics to keep from shooting itself in the foot.

  • This is a fantastic resource and obviously a lot of work – thank you very much indeed!