Speed Reads

surveillance state

Police have apps to scan your social media and give you a 'threat rating'

Many police departments use new, social media-based programs to profile people they encounter, Reuters reports. One application, called Beware, can be used by officers to scan your online activity and churn out a "threat rating" — red, yellow, or green — in a matter of seconds.

Police already had some of the information Beware considers in creating its ratings (like past arrests), but much of it is based on social media activity and even online purchases. A vice president from the company which makes Beware says that "any [online] comments that could be construed as offensive" affect the threat rating, which in turn will affect how officers approach the situation — and potentially whether they feel violent recourse is justified.

Other newly available applications similarly raise civil liberties and civil rights concerns. One program called PredPol is designed to predict the time and location of crime (within a 500 by 500 foot area) before it happens.