TWITTER SOLD ACCESS TO DATA that was used by academic Aleksandr Kogan, the bloke who created the Facebook personality quiz which ultimately lead to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
The Sunday Telegraph found that Twitter provided Kogan's own data-centric commercial enterprise Global Science Research with public Twitter data.
Twitter later confirmed that was indeed the case in a statement but was adamant that it did not give any private user data to Kogan.
"Based on the recent reports, we conducted our own internal review and did not find any access to any private data about people who use Twitter. Unlike many other services, Twitter is public by its nature. People come to Twitter to speak publicly, and public Tweets are viewable and searchable by anyone. In 2015, GSR did have one-time API access to a random sample of public Tweets from a five-month period from December 2014 to April 2015," a Twitter spokesperson told INQ.
So it would appear that this data access is something that anyone with enough time and motivation could have done by themselves. And as it was a one-off, it doesn't look like this is anywhere near the privacy concerns raised by Cambridge Analytica's illegitimate access to Facebook data.
Nevertheless, Twitter also told us that it's stopping Cambridge Analytica from advertising on its platform; better safe than sorry, eh Twitter.
"Twitter has also made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned and operated by Cambridge Analytica. This decision is based on our determination that Cambridge Analytica operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices. Cambridge Analytica may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules." the spokesperson said.
Given Twitter's data is open and public by design, whatever you put out on the platform is open for all to see unless you make it private to only authorised followers. As such, any data harvesting can be legit.
But the situation does raise the question as to how much money companies can make off the back of your personal, though not private data; could a simple tweet of a cat gif be fuelling the sales of massive feline food corporations, for example?
Rob Johnson, senior directors of product management at Twitter, noted that the social media platform is working at becoming more transparent to how its public data is used and polices who gets access to it.
"For users of our commercial data platform, developers must complete a rigorous review and approval process before we grant them access to Twitter data via our enterprise and premium APIs, and are subject to regular reviews and policy checks once they have access. In the coming months, we will share even more details about expanding this review and approval process to all developers using our platform," explained Johnson.
So it would seem Twitter is not some privacy sapping data guzzling giant from a dystopian society. Rather, it seems to be increasingly a platform for trolls, bigots, and people with heavy-handed political views to spout bile or poorly constructed arguments all over the place, something chief exec Jack Dorsey and pals could do with fixing. µ
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