Facebook Suspends Analytics Firm on Concerns About Sharing of Public User-Data

F Credit Patrick T. Fallon  Bloomberg

He contrasted that with Cambridge Analytica's use of private user data.

Facebook said it was looking into whether some of these deals were in violation of its policies on surveillance.

In a blog post released Friday, Crimson Hexagon's chief technology officer, Chris Bingham, wrote that the analytics firm "only collects publicly available social media data that anyone can access", and "does not collect private social media data".

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.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the Wall Street Journal reported the firm, Crimson Hexagon, has analyzed data for clients that include US government agencies and a Russian nonprofit with ties to the Kremlin.

Facebook is investigating the claims to see if Crimson violated any of its policies, Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, said in a statement to Barron's.

Later Friday, Facebook said it was suspending Crimson Hexagon's apps from Facebook and its Instagram unit to investigate how Crimson Hexagon collects, shares and stores user data, the Journal reported.

In fact, Crimson Hexagon pays Twitter for access to a large amount of tweets; considering that Facebook has restrictions on the amount of data that can be collected by third parties, Crimson Hexagon collects more data from Twitter than from Facebook. The brands it has worked with include Adidas, Samsung, GM, Walmart and General Mills, according to its website.

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After all, Paul Lawrie was in the clubhouse and three strokes adrift when the leader stepped on the 18th tee in 1999. Woods then fired a handsome second shot into the 10th hole, one of the finest shots of the tournament so far.

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Whatever the outcome of the investigation, it's a data privacy headache that Facebook could do without.

He added: "To be abundantly clear: What Cambridge Analytica did was explicitly illegal, while the collection of public data is completely legal and sanctioned by the data providers that Crimson engages with, including Twitter and Facebook, among others".

This meant the company was able to mine the information of 87 million Facebook users even though just 270,000 people gave them permission to do so.

He said developers were allowed to "use public or aggregated information to produce anonymised insights for business purpose". It did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Facebook told the BBC the firm had already spoken with Crimson Hexagon, and the firms are due to meet in the coming days. "It is about the broader role and use of public online data in the modern world".

In light of all the headaches that Cambridge Analytica brought to the social media leader, it is little surprise that it is now extra careful with third-party apps, especially those connected to analytics companies.

You could be forgiven for arguing there seem to be really only three or four stories about Facebook at the moment, and that the crush of news coverage lately generally falls into one of those buckets.

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