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Twitter’s ‘firehose’ of tweets is incredibly valuable—and just as dangerous • Bloomberg
Benjamin Elgin and Peter Robison:
<p>For years, Twitter has offered access to its “Firehose”—the global deluge of tweets, half a billion a day—to a number of companies that monitor social media. Some of those companies resell the information—mostly to marketers, but also to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. Some of these authorities use the data to track dissidents, as Bloomberg Businessweek has learned through dozens of interviews with industry insiders and more than 100 requests for public records from law enforcement agencies in the U.S.

There’s nothing illegal about selling Twitter data, but it’s uncomfortable for a company that promotes itself as a medium for free speech and protest. Twitter issues regular transparency reports and has gone to court to fight censorship. Dorsey himself marched with Black Lives Matter activists in 2014, regularly tweeting messages of support and appearing at a conference this June wearing a #staywoke T-shirt. But amid Dorsey’s activism, one data user, Chicago monitoring company Geofeedia, was hired by California police departments after pitching its ability to identify civil rights protesters, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report released in September. Twitter, which touts a policy that prohibits third parties from making content available “to investigate, track or surveil Twitter’s users or their content,” cut ties with Geofeedia in October.

Twitter offers a free, stripped-down version of the full Firehose to the public, and in recent years, at least 17 companies besides Geofeedia have marketed surveillance products that make use of Twitter data to law enforcement organizations.</p>

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twitter  firehose 
october 2016 by charlesarthur
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