In December 2016, the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a public records request with the Boston Police Department to find out if BPD had used a social media surveillance system called Geofeedia. The responsive documents show that the Boston Police Department’s Boston Regional Intelligence Center (BRIC) used Geofeedia in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to monitor First Amendment protected speech and association. The documents reveal that analysts at BRIC collected thousands of social media posts about political and social activism, current events, religious issues, and personal matters totally irrelevant to law enforcement concerns. The BPD treated ordinary citizens discussing ordinary affairs as justifiable targets of surveillance.
Read our report about the Geofeedia files, and see the files below.
Request and Responses
- Alerts: Emails that alerted Geofeedia users at the BRIC to social media posts containing keywords selected by BRIC analysts. The Boston Police Department gave us about 1,900 alerts.
- Communications: Email correspondence between Geofeedia and the Boston Police Department discussing the software, contracts, and related matters.
- Promotional: Marketing emails and other documents promoting Geofeedia events and features.
- Content Roundups: Geofeedia emails highlighting social media content available for browsing on the platform.
- Financial: Purchase orders documenting the Boston Police Department’s contracts with Geofeedia.