Crowdtangle Used to Monitor Prominent US Conservative Figures
Watchdog group Judicial Watch has uncovered a very disturbing piece of information all journalists should know about. According to Judicial Watch, “The State Department utilized a powerful Facebook-owned social media tracking tool linked to leftist billionaire George Soros to unlawfully monitor prominent U.S. conservative figures, journalists and persons with ties to President Donald Trump, according to an agency source.”
CrowdTangle was identified by the veteran State Department whistleblower as the tool used to unlawfully surveil journalists and anyone closely tied to President Trump, as well as prominent conservative figures. These include journalists such as Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, and allies such as the president’s son, although Judicial Watch does not name which son.
Ambassador Used State Department Resources for Illegal Monitoring
According to Judicial Watch, ousted US Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch ordered illegal monitoring conducted by the agency in Ukraine, which may have been a violation of laws and government regulations, especially due to the fact she used State Department resources to unlawfully monitor US citizens. CrowdTangle is a private social monitoring platform which guarantees it can identify influencers and track rivals. It is an invitation only platform which was launched in 2011, and subsequently bought by Facebook in 2016.
From Judicial Watch: “Crowdtangle monitors more than 5 million social media accounts and uses dashboards to track keywords, data and specific topics across platforms. For years Facebook has made Crowdtangle available to the mainstream media and in January founder and CEO Brandon Silverman announced he will give access to select academics and researchers in order to help counter misinformation and abuse of social media platforms.”
Brandon Silverman issued this statement: “To date, Crowdtangle has been available primarily to help newsrooms and media publishers understand what is happening on the platform. We’re eager to make it available to this important new set of partners and help continue to provide more transparency into how information is being spread on social media.” Judicial Watch informs that a Soros group, called Social Science Research Center (SSRC), determines who is given access to the platform.
Facebook Not in Charge of Selection of Users
Again, from Judicial Watch: “Earlier this year Facebook announced that SSRC will pick researchers who will gain access to its cherished ‘privacy-protected’ data. The statement assures that ‘Facebook did not play any role in the selection of the individuals or their projects and will have no role in directing the findings or conclusions of the research.’ That is left up to the SSRC, which claims that selected researchers will use privacy-protected Facebook data to ‘study the platform’s impact on democracy worldwide.’ In 2016 Soros’s Open Society Foundations gave the SSRC nearly $500,000 for a Latin America human rights and public health initiative and a global ‘equality and antidiscrimination’ program.”
The State Department does use Crowdtangle to monitor social media posts, and encourages its use in understanding polling data and the difference between impressions and reach. However, “ordering subordinates to target certain U.S. persons, as sources say Yovanovitch did, using State Department resources would constitute a violation of laws and government regulations.” A senior State Department Official provided this statement to Judicial Watch: “This is not an obscure rule, everyone in public diplomacy or public affairs knows they can’t make lists and monitor U.S. citizens unless there is a major national security reason.”
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