The FBI wants to get its hands on your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram data

FBI Investigation

The FBI is looking for a partner to collect data from your social media profiles, which could pit it against new privacy policies Facebook agreed to as part of its $5 billion settlement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

A request for proposal posted on Aug. 8 reveals that the FBI wants to hire a third party contractor to help it scrape to social media data “to proactively identify and reactively monitor threats to the United States and its interests.” The document was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“With increased use of social media platforms by subjects of current FBI investigations and individuals that pose a threat to the United States, it is critical to obtain a service which will allow the FBI to identify relevant information from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other Social media platforms in a timely fashion,” the FBI wrote in its request. “Consequently, the FBI needs near real time access to a full range of social media exchanges in order to obtain the most current information available in furtherance of its law enforcement and intelligence missions.”

While the request is from last month, it’s even more relevant in light of the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, and President Donald Trump’s call to better use social media to detect and stop mass shooters before they can go on a rampage . 

The FBI’s request could, in theory, violate a ban against the use of Facebook data for surveillance services that Facebook agreed to as part of a $5 billion FTC settlement last month. That said, the FBI envisions this as an “early alerting tool in order to mitigate multifaceted threats, while ensuring all privacy and civil liberties compliance requirements are met.”

The new data security program that Facebook is required to create as a result of the settlement could put the social media giant between the FTC and the FBI. While the FTC wants Facebook users’ data to be more private and for Facebook to adopt a better privacy policy, the FBI appears to be hungry for the data and is now asking for access to Facebook and other social media platforms’ data to determine possible threats. 

Digital Trends reached out to the FBI, Facebook, Twitter, and the FTC for comment but have not yet received a response. 

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