Thursday, 16 August, 2018

Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm As It Investigates Data Practices

F Credit Patrick T. Fallon  Bloomberg F Credit Patrick T. Fallon Bloomberg
Ginger Lawrence | 22 July, 2018, 20:42

A similar investigation led to the suspension of Cambridge Analytica, the British data-mining firm accused of inappropriately accessing personal information for millions of Facebook users.

Seeking to distance his company from the data breach scandal, he wrote: "Cambridge Analytica raised alarm surrounding the potential for misuse of private Facebook data, but public data appears to be coming under increased scrutiny as well". The company monitors social media sentiment for a roster of blue chip clients, and also has links to platforms like Twitter and Tumblr.

Facebook Inc. suspended another company that harvested data from its site and said it was investigating whether the analytics firm's contracts with the US government and a Russian nonprofit tied to the Kremlin violate the platform's policies.

"Facebook has a responsibility to help protect people's information which is one of the reasons why we have tightened our APIs significantly over the last few years", Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, said in a statement.

Facebook has taken steps in lobbying efforts on data security and policy, among other issues.

Facebook has said that, as of right now, the company hasn't found anything untoward in its probe of Crimson Hexagon.

Where Crimson Hexagon would fall foul of Facebook's rules is if the data was used to create tools for surveillance, though Facebook has never clarified how its policy works in practice.

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Citing people familiar with the business, the paper said the government contracts of Crimson Hexagon, which pulls public data from Facebook, were not approved by Facebook in advance.

Chris Bingham, a Crimson Hexagon executive, wrote in a blog post on Friday that his firm only collects publicly available social media data, an act which is "completely legal".

Per Facebook's policies, users can opt to share their information with developers on Facebook and Instagram.

"The real conversation is not about a particular social media analytics provider, or even a particular social network like Facebook", Bingham added. The company boasts that it has the world's largest volume of unstructured text and images across social, online public, and enterprise-held data sources.

In March 2017, Facebook prohibited user data being used for government surveillance following pressure from civil liberties groups concerned about the targeting of dissidents and protesters.

He said developers were allowed to "use public or aggregated information to produce anonymised insights for business purpose". The company was founded in 2007 by chairman Gary King, a professor at Harvard University and director of the university's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. The government in Turkey also reportedly used the service in making its decision to shut down Twitter in 2014, during a period of dissent.