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FBI, Facebook could clash over privacy vs. monitoring

SAN FRANCISCO — The FBI is looking for outside contractors to monitor social media for potential threats, setting up a possible conflict with Facebook and other companies over privacy.

Last month, the FBI said it is soliciting proposals for a social media “early alerting tool” in order to identify possible threats while making sure that privacy and civil liberties considerations are taken into account. Such a tool would likely violate the companies’ ban against using their data for surveillance.

The contract solicitation and the potential clash was first reported by The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. It was posted before the most recent mass shootings once again prompted calls for social media companies to do more to detect such threats.

Facebook declined to comment. Twitter also wouldn’t comment on the report but pointed to its policies prohibiting the use of its data for surveillance purposes, even if such data is public.

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