What Police Surveillance Of Social Media Could Mean For You

Download Audio
(Richard Drew/AP)
(Richard Drew/AP)

Here's a familiar story line in a police procedural: Officer goes undercover, befriends folks, infiltrates a group. In some cases, they get the right person. In others, they don't. Now, think about exactly that happening, but all online, through social media.

That's one of the options that the Boston Police Department is pursuing with a $1.4 million investment it wants to make in social media monitoring software. The department says it's an essential modern policing tool to protect Boston from threats.

Critics, including the ACLU, have said that monitoring social media accounts threatens civil rights and liberties, and say that the software could target minorities and have a chilling effect on free speech.

We reached out to the Boston police, but no one from the department could join us on the air.

However, the Arlington Police Department has adopted a social media monitoring system called Social Sentinel. They join us to talk about what the system entails.


Fred Ryan, chief of police in Arlington. They tweet @arlingtonmapd.

Kade Crockford, director of the Technology for Liberty Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. She tweets @onekade.

This article was originally published on December 22, 2016.

This segment aired on December 22, 2016.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live