Facebook prohibits developers from using its data to create surveillance tools

  • Facebook prohibits developers from using its data to create surveillance tools

Facebook prohibits developers from using its data to create surveillance tools

Twitter took similar action in November, clarifying that its policy prohibits developers from allowing law enforcement to use its data for surveillance purposes and noting that doing so could result in suspension or termination.

According to the ACLU, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter were providing user data to Geofeedia, a social network surveillance company which offered tools to track and spy on protesters and activists.

Developers have indeed created social media-mining surveillance tools in violation of Facebook's policy, but they seem to have done it with Facebook's blessing.

"We are pleased that after we reported our findings to the companies, Instagram cut off Geofeedia's access to public user posts, and Facebook has cut its access to a topic-based feed of public user posts", the ACLU wrote.

In response to Facebook's changes, the ACLU of California's technology director, Nicole Ozer, said: "We depend on social networks to connect and communicate about the most important issues in our lives and the core political and social issues in our country".

"They mostly don't have publicly available policies that talk about using this monitoring software", Rachel Levinson-Waldman, senior council for the Brennan Center for Justice, said on Monday's panel.

Color of Change also praised the move, saying social media was a powerful tool that could be used by activists of color to draw attention to injustices.

Straight from the horse's mouth, here's how the ACLU describes the matter at hand when it comes to law enforcement keeping surveillance. But ACLU records showed that as recently as July a year ago, Geofeedia was still touting its product as a tool to monitor protests.

After Facebook's declaration, Twitter joined the fight against internet surveillance by stating that it, too, will not tolerate any information leak, even if the data belongs to known activists or protesters.

However, the report suggests that the new Facebook's policy is unlikely to be 100% effective. American Civil Liberties Union, Color of Change and the Center for Media Justice put pressure on Facebook after it transpired that data from users' feeds was being gathered and sold on to law enforcement agencies. This change would help people build a community where they can feel safe from every aspects and at the same time make their voices heard. Facebook already uses the vast library of collected data for advertising - but its developers can also use that information to listen in on what users are discussing, and their participation in public events.