Los Angeles Police Department’s Social Media Monitoring Tool Flags Anime, Game Tweets as “Potential Danger” by Global Anime

AbraxasDecember 18, 2021

LAPD collected approximately 70,000 tweets every day in October, November last year

The Brennan Center for Justice published a spreadsheet of tweets flagged by an automated social media monitoring tool utilized by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). The ABTShield, which flagged tweets under tags such as “domestic extremism” and “civil unrest,” collected approximately 70,000 tweets every day in October and November last year as part of a pilot test. The full list of flagged items includes tweets about innocuous subjects, including anime and video games.

One tweet that was flagged as a “potential danger” read: “Kishimoto stepped in because they was bout to kill Naruto.” Another read: “I DO LOVE THEM ALL BUT ALSO GORO AKECHI [from Persona 5] IS A MASS MURDER.”

The Brennan Center obtained the files as part of its ongoing freedom of information lawsuit against the LAPD. The tweets were flagged under six categories: “domestic extremism and white nationalism,” “potential danger,” “civil unrest,” “election security,” “the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” and “American policing.” The spreadsheets included the tweet’s content, the tags, and data on the tweet’s reach.

Although the original data set included the usernames and links to each tweet, the LAPD redacted that information when sending the documents to the Brennan Center for the litigation process.

The Brennan Center filed public records requests in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, and Baltimore on January 30, 2020. A similar request was filed to the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department on December 15, 2020. The nonprofit law and public policy institute demands the police departments publicly disclose their usage and scale of social media monitoring.

According to the Brennan Center, the LAPD provided a number of specific social media handles for the ABTShield to track. The police also provided key terms for monitoring, many of which were connected to Black Lives Matter and related social activism. The Guardian reported in September that the LAPD collects the social media information of every civilian they interview, regardless of whether or not they have been arrested or accused of a crime.

The ABTShield is developed by the Polish software company EDGE NPD. According to the company’s website, it is “an AI-based tool, limiting risks and a negative impact of bots and trolls on readers experience, disinformation spreading and advertisers’ campaigns efficiency.”

Source: Brennan Center via @Loganchance

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