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Facebook's updated policies prohibit developers from using its data in surveillance tools

By midian182
Mar 14, 2017
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  1. We live in an age where online surveillance by government and law enforcement is increasingly common, but the big social networks are pushing back against the spying. Last year it was Twitter that cracked down on developers who make surveillance tools; now, Facebook and Instagram are banning the practice.

    Facebook announced the changes to its policies yesterday, which also apply to Instagram. They include the addition of “language to our Facebook and Instagram platform policies to more clearly explain that developers cannot “use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.””

    In October last year, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) obtained government records that revealed Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram had provided user data to software company Geofeed. The startup used this information in its social media monitoring product, which was marketed to law enforcement as a way to monitor activists and protestors.

    The three companies ended their relationship with Geofeed after the revelations came to light. Twitter said it would completely eradicate such practices. “Using Twitter’s Public APIs or data products to track or profile protesters and activists is absolutely unacceptable and prohibited,” the company said.

    Facebook has faced pressure from groups such as the ACLU, Color of Change, and the Center for Media Justice to do more about the spying. The site says it has been taking action against any devs creating surveillance tools for some time. “Our goal is to make our policy explicit,” said the social network. “Over the past several months we have taken enforcement action against developers who created and marketed tools meant for surveillance.”

    The groups have welcomed the policy change. Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director at the ACLU of California, said: “Written policies must be backed up by rigorous oversight and swift action for violations. Now more than ever, we expect companies to slam shut any surveillance side doors and make sure nobody can use their platforms to target people of color and activists.”

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  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,400   +3,790

    Certainly a good move, now let's just hope it lasts! LOL
  3. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,000   +2,295

    LOL is right! This is a policy after all, and as such, it has no teeth in the dark realms of the internet. Any of the real agencies like the CIA, NSA, Mi6, KGB, ad nauseam, are definitely LOL at this and similar policies, I am sure, from other social networks. To paraphrase the movie War Games, the only way to be safe from this type of surveillance is not to participate in these social networks. In some cases, they are great tools for change, however, IMO, they are a waste of time otherwise.
    Yynxs and Uncle Al like this.
  4. Yynxs

    Yynxs TS Addict Posts: 201   +78

    Well any developer with social feed extraction skills just had their salaries increased geometrically. Now they have to capitalize 'discovery' and 'banning' into the charges for their work. Plus, you have to know the Chinese and Indians and Singaporeans and Ukranians and Russians are 'shakin in their boots' that Facebook might dislike their work. Now that I know little Marky's opinion, it will certainly affect who I buy spy data from.
    wiyosaya likes this.

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