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#gunfire: can Twitter really help cops find crime?

16
Nov
2013

In January 2012, the Federal Bureau of Investigation made an open request to industry for a social media alert, mapping, and analysis application with the flexibility to change search parameters and geo-locate the search based on breaking events or emerging threats. They wanted an app, in other words, that would allow keyword searches — for gunfire, for meth, for protests, for killings — in specific areas to locate bad guys and potential bad guys. They wanted a social media scraper. They wanted your YouTube comments and comments on websites made through Facebook. With names like BlueJay, SnapTrends, and even the multibillion-dollar public-records database company LexisNexis, these companies claim to offer an unprecedented tool to police officers — a definitive, easy-to-use product that can keep police informed when people publicly announce crimes or potential crimes on the web.

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