Facebook and Instagram ban developers from using data for surveillance

Facebook and Instagram ban developers from using data for surveillance

Facebook and Instagram ban developers from using data for surveillance

"Using Twitter's Public APIs or data products to track or profile protesters and activists is absolutely unacceptable and prohibited", the company said.

The new policy means developers of Facebook and Instagram are now banned from using the company's data as a tool for spying on people, Rob Sherman, Facebook's deputy chief privacy officer, said in a blogpost.

The ACLU has praised Facebook/Instagram's policy reform, adding: "Written policies must be backed up by rigorous oversight and swift action for violations". After more research, it was uncovered that Facebook and Instagram provided API access, and Twitter offered Geofeedia a tweet database.

There were reports about companies that sell social media-based surveillance systems to police departments and foreign governments.

The ACLU, Color of Change and the Center for Media Justice say that the next step is for Facebook to proactively enforce the policy, something Facebook argues it is already doing.

Facebook Inc. and its Instagram photo sharing app have bowed to pressure from civil rights activists, creating new policies designed to prohibit developers using the platforms for surveillance purposes.

Facebook's data feed was accessed via the Topic Feed API that provided "a ranked feed of public posts from Facebook that mention a specific topic, including hashtags, events, or specific places". Moreover, they took advantage of the opportunity to announce that all third-party developers who marketed Facebook surveillance tools have been warned to renounce their practices.

"Social media platforms are a powerful tool for Black people to draw attention to the injustices our community faces", Color of Change's campaign director Brandi Collins told TechCrunch.

Facebook to developers: Thou shalt not use thy data to spy.

"There's nothing to stop law enforcement from looking as a suspect's Facebook feed, but it will stop these intermediary-type companies like Geofeedia from getting automated feeds of information", said Timothy Toohey, an attorney with Greenberg Glusker Fields Claman & Machtinger.

The social network says that the practice has always been a contravention of its policies, but it is now tidying up and clarifying the wording of its developer policies.

The three organizations have been pushing for the changes since last fall when they pressured Twitter to sever ties to Geofeedia and Media Sonar, companies they said funneled activists' social media information to law enforcement. Facebook insisted to clarify that they would no longer allow such behavior from their developers.

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