Facebook bans known protest-tracking tool for law enforcement


Facebook has blocked Media Sonar from accessing its data, according to Motherboard, a month after Twitter cut off its access. The Canadian company is known for selling social-media-monitoring tools to law enforcement agencies, who mostly used them to track activists of color and keywords such as “BlackLivesMatter” in the past. A Facebook spokesperson told the publication that it also banned the company from accessing its API last year. In addition, Facebook-owned Instagram banned Media Sonar from its platform for violating its terms of service.

It’s not exactly clear which agencies are using Media Sonar’s tools, but Motherboard says the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Toronto’s police department are most likely two of its customers. Further, it might have peddled its wares to authorities outside the US and Canada, as well. It apparently won an award for “going global” back in 2016 and mentioned going “into new geographies” before. Since the company keeps its dealings under lock and key, we can’t confirm whether its tools are being used by oppressive regimes to monitor its citizens. Either way, it can’t keep an eye on protests through three of the biggest social networks anymore.