How governments use social media data mining to spy on their citizens

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Data mining is a process used to extract usable data from a larger set of any raw data. It implies analyzing data patterns in large batches of data using one or more software.

Social media, websites, and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking

Social media data mining is the process of obtaining big data from user-generated content on social media sites and mobile apps in order to extract patterns, form conclusions about users, and act upon the information, often for the purpose of advertising to users or conducting research.

The following are ways in which the government uses social media data mining to spy on its citizens.


With the rise of social media, many companies now provide social media monitoring software that the government can use to sift through the vast amount of data created by social media. Digital Stakeout, Beware, Geofeedia, Life Raft are just some of the names of the products provided for monitoring social media. These products are used by the federal government as well as local and state governments to aggregate, filter, and analyze billions of data points created across social media platforms every day. Social media monitoring software is used in a variety of ways to analyze the “big data” derived from collecting social media information. The software is not only used to look for keywords but also to track the location from which social media posts are coming, identify relationships between people, monitor events, and determine an individual’s potential for violence among many other functions. Social media monitoring technology enables law enforcement to constantly monitor and archive information on millions of people’s activities. Law enforcement can probe posts on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube for information on breaking news, protests, and potential threats.


When officers or detectives want to get information, they can ask an individual who is a close friend with the target party or cooperating witness, to view the target’s posts, pictures and report back what he/she has seen. Law enforcement officers can also create an undercover account to connect with unknown civilians. Many social media monitoring companies have advertised their ability to create undercover accounts in bulk that will help detectives and law enforcement officers have an easy time in their daily activities and duties.


Social media data can be incorporated into predictive policing programs, an algorithmic approach that intends to predict where crimes are going to happen or who is going to be a victim of crime. There is an analytic tool that combines social media information with other data including license plate readers, gunshots sensors, historical crime data, and weather.


Gps monitoring and trackers generate a precise, comprehensive record of a person’s public movements that reflects a wealth of detail about her family, political, professional, and religious associations.

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