Forget Facebook! Even Twitter sold users’ private data to Kogan, says report

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New Delhi | Published: April 30, 2018 12:26:55 PM

Twitter, being one of the most eligible social media platforms for migration of the Facebook users, came out clean in the litmus test for safeguarding the users’ data - and users believed so.

Twitter told Bloomberg that GSR had access to the data of Twitter users over a period of time from December 2014 to April 2015. (Source: Twitter)

When Facebook was enmeshed in the data misuse scandal that led to an exploitation of the privacy of over 87 million users, the users, regulators, and other advocacy groups reignited the #DeleteFacebook movement to disallow the social media giant from further snooping into the private data of the users. The idea was to abandon Facebook for some other popular social media website or just plainly get rid of social media wholly.

Twitter, being one of the most eligible social media platforms for migration of the Facebook users, came out clean in the litmus test for safeguarding the users’ data – and users believed so. However, things aren’t as conspicuous as the users may think. According to a Bloomberg report, Twitter too may have landed in hot water as Aleksandr Kogan – the creator of the quiz app to harvest users’ data – could also have gained access to the users’ data from Twitter.

In an unfortunate stint of the data privacy concerns in today’s times, Twitter admitted to Bloomberg that Kogan who headed the data analytics company Global Science Research or GSR, obtained one-time access to the data of Twitter users. Without disclosing the number of accounts impacted and the extent of data harvested, Twitter agreed that it also conducted an internal audit, similar to the one at Facebook, after the reports on data misuse by Cambridge Analytica surfaced.

Twitter told Bloomberg that GSR had access to the data of Twitter users over a period of time from December 2014 to April 2015. What’s extremely and horrifically unsettling here is Twitter does not even know how many profiles were accessed by GSR during its access over these 5 months. Twitter could not find any access made to private data of the users by GSR. GSR is largely speculated to have correlated the data it accessed from two popular social media platforms to match the attributes of the users.

The San Francisco-headquartered company, however, said that it had banned GSR or Cambridge Analytica from buying any data or running advertisements on the platform based on the information of the user behaviour. A report by The Telegraph citing a Twitter spokesperson says that Twitter’s decision to disallow GSR and Cambridge Analytica was based on the determination that the latter runs on a business model that “inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices.”

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