Twitter is giving U.S. intelligence agencies the cold shoulder.
The social media company has reportedly asked third party analytics company Dataminr to stop providing its service to government intelligence agencies.
Dataminer is the only company Twitter allows to sift through unfiltered streams from all its users to produce and sell actionable data on unfolding events. For example, the company claimed to have provided its clients with information about the recent Brussels terror attacks 10 minutes before the story was reported by the news media.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the move was driven by Twitter’s concerns about the “optics” of appearing too close to government surveillance entities.
Though sources from the U.S. intelligence community and Dataminr confirmed the request to the Wall Street Journal, Twitter said its policy on government surveillance hasn’t changed.
“We have never authorized Dataminr or any third party to sell data to a government or intelligence agency for surveillance purposes,” the company said in a statement.
Dataminr had reportedly been providing information to the intelligence community for approximately two years, the Journal said. An article from TechCrunch indicated the services were offered as part of an unpaid pilot program that was set to expire due to Twitter’s policy against selling data to the government for monitoring purposes.
Indeed, Twitter’s battle against secretive government agencies is nothing new.
In 2014, the social media company sued the FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice for the right to release more information about government requests for user information.
At the time, Twitter said it believes it’s entitled under the First Amendment to “respond to our users’ concerns and to the statements of U.S. government officials by providing information about the scope of U.S. government surveillance.” In particular, the company was seeking to release more information about what types of information the government asked for and how many requests were received.
That lawsuit was partly dismissed last week by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Rogers, however, gave Twitter the option to re-file its lawsuit with more details to help its case.