The executive said that alterations to the language in the Facebook Platform Policy make it crystal clear that the development of surveillance tools through slurping Facebook profile data is no longer acceptable.
Last fall, the ACLU obtained records that Facebook and Instagram provided user date access to Geofeedia, which develops a monitoring product marketed to law enforcement.
In October, ACLU published a piece revealing that the police had used data from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook via Geofeedia, a location-based analytics platform. Ater a sustained pressure from civil rights organizations, the company updated their platform policy on Monday, to ban all those developers from using user’s data.
Sherman said Facebook has recently “taken enforcement actions” against developers who have used their creations for surveillance. And the public largely has no idea how they’re being used.
The only thing that the newly revamped policies will do, at least in the case of government surveillance, is prevent third-party companies from giving up user information. Dataminr reportedly signed a contract with the FBI, allowing the bureau “to search the complete Twitter firehose, in near real-time, using customizable filters”, according to the Federal Business Opportunities official government page. Geofeedia could easily achieve this under the banner of its developer status.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have relied on social media tools to track and monitor citizens. The spy tools often disproportionally targeted communities of color. The move came as a response to a recent report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), saying that police were using “invasive social media surveillance software” to spy on activists and protesters in places like San Jose and Baltimore.
The change would help build “a community where people can feel safe making their voices heard”, Sherman said.
Social media was at one time blamed for helping ignite violent protests here in the UK.
Meanwhile, it should also be pointed out that Vice President and General Manager of Data and Enterprise Solutions at Twitter Chris Moody addressed the issue back in November 2016, clearly stating its stand regarding the situation.
And when you use social media to post photos and talk with friends about an event you’re at, that’s data that can be scraped and used… including by cops who want to figure out what you’re up to.
Those groups thanked Facebook for its efforts, noting that the work continues.