Facebook could have another Cambridge Analytica-type scandal on its hands
Yep, Facebook has just suspended another analytics firm, in a similar fashion to the way it eventually suspended Cambridge Analytica. Boston-based Crimson Hexagon, which has a link to a Russian nonprofit organization that has ties to the Kremlin, can no longer access Facebook and Instagram data. Crimson Hexagon already boasts a collection of an eye-watering 1 trillion public social media posts. The suspension appears to be temporary.
Facebook has been quick to say that, as yet, there is no reason to believe that Crimson Hexagon has done anything illegally. The suspension follows questions surrounding the firm’s connections to national governments in the US, Turkey, and Russia. There is a worry that the vast amounts of data Crimson Hexagon is collecting could be used for surveillance.
Facebook has decided to look into the use of data further, saying:
“We don’t allow developers to build surveillance tools using information from Facebook or Instagram. We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate.”
Twitter recently blocked Crimson Hexagon due to concerns about what it does with user data. The Boston-based firm has responded, however, by saying that government contracts only form a tiny portion of their overall business and that if a government used the data for surveillance, it would be breaching Crimson Hexagon’s terms. Chief Technical Officer Chris Bingham said:
“Crimson Hexagon only allows government customers to use the platform for specific approved use cases, and under no circumstances is surveillance a permitted use case… The most common use cases are large scale public opinion research and measuring the success of their communication efforts. Each potential government customer must contractually commit, in writing, to the use cases that they will be utilizing the platform for in their agreements … No one using Crimson Hexagon would be able to learn anything about an individual that isn’t already contained in publicly-available data.”
Although the social media data Crimson Hexagon collects is public, government surveillance links provide a PR nightmare for Facebook. Zuckerberg’s social network is still reeling from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. With other social networks like Twitter leading by example, and high-profile reports into Crimson Hexagon coming out in The Wall Street Journal Facebook had little choice but to act. So far, this is just a temporary suspension, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens next with this one.