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Monday, April 22, 2024

Elon Musk is Reportedly Selling Twitter User Data to a Gov’t Surveillance Contractor

'Watching everything that happens on X in real time is key to Dataminr’s pitch to the government...'

(Ken Silva, Headline USA) While Elon Musk has talked a big game when it comes to privacy and free speech, he’s continued to sell Twitter/X user data to a controversial surveillance company that provides services to the U.S. military and intelligence agencies, according to a new report in The Intercept.

Citing emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act, The Intercept reported Monday that Twitter is continuing to sell user data to Dataminr, which provides its customers with customized real-time “alerts” on desired topics, “giving clients like police departments a form of social media omniscience.”

“The alerts allow police to, for instance, automatically track a protest as it moves from its planning stages into the streets, without requiring police officials to do any time-intensive searches,” The Intercept reported.

“Watching everything that happens on X in real time is key to Dataminr’s pitch to the government. The company essentially leases indirect access to this massive spray of information, with Dataminr acting as an intermediary between X’s servers and a multitude of police, intelligence, and military agencies.”

While Dataminr’s relationship with Twitter was long known, it was unclear if it continued after Musk bought the platform. But a July 2023 message confirms that the relationship is ongoing.

“Dataminr has a unique contractual relationship with Twitter, whereby we have real-time access to the full stream of all publicly available Tweets,” a representative of the surveillance company reportedly wrote to the Secret Service in that July 2023 message.

Neither Twitter nor Dataminr responded to The Intercept’s requests for comment on the matter.

The Intercept’s report is the latest disappointment for users that hoped Musk would stick to his word on the reforms he promised for Twitter.

The company has also reverted to its pre-Musk censorship and banning policies, announcing last September that it would ban users for “commercial inviability”—in other words, the company will kick users off the platform if they post messages that upset advertisers.

The company also updated its privacy policies that will allow for the collection of biometric data and employment history, among other information.

Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.

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