On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that the Los Angeles Police instructed their officers to gather social media information on every single person they stop — even if the person isn't charged or cited for anything and is just sent on their way.
"Public records first obtained by the Brennan Center for Justice and shared with the paper connect the procedure to a wider surveillance campaign," reported A. J. MacDougall. "Copies of 'field interview cards' that officers use to speak to civilians were obtained by the Brennan Center, showing that the police are required to record not only a person's biographical data but also social media information like their Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter handles. 'Social media accounts' were first added as a section on the field interview cards in 2015."
According to the LAPD, this data gathering is important for "investigations, arrests, and prosecutions" — even though the use of field interview cards has caused controversial misfires in the past, including three LAPD officers who were charged in 2020 for using the cards to falsely identify people as gang members.
The report comes amid freshly revealed incidents of police brutality around the country, including a video of a Louisiana state trooper beating a compliant, nonresisting Black man with a flashlight.