This AI Helps Police Track Social Media. Does It Go Too Far?

Law enforcement officials say the tool can help them combat misinformation. Civil liberties advocates say it can be used for mass surveillance.

Since 2016, civil liberties groups have raised alarms about online surveillance of social media chatter by city officials and police departments. Services like Media Sonar, Social Sentinel, and Geofeedia analyze online conversations, clueing in police and city leaders to what hundreds of thousands of users are saying online.

Zencity, an Israeli data-analysis firm that serves 200 agencies across the US, markets itself as a less invasive alternative, because it offers only aggregate data and forbids targeted surveillance of protests. Cities like Phoenix, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh say they use

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