According to a recent report, Twitter has sold the personal data of hundreds of thousands of users to an affiliate of the British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica which is behind Facebook’s data scandal.
The micro-blogging website sold the information to Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University scholar and Cambridge Analytica affiliate that handed over the data on millions of users to Facebook. Cambridge Analytica gained access to the Facebook and Twitter data behind users’ backs.
- Kogan is the author of a personality test shared on Facebook, which was later used by the company to harvest the personal data that landed on Analytica’s table.
- The researcher runs his own company, called the Global Science Research (GSR).
In 2015, Twitter granted GSR unrestricted access to months’ worth of public data for one day, according to a report from Twitter. The company also said that GSR tapped only a “random sample of public tweets” for one night.
Only Public Data Has Been Accessed
The Twitter data included public messages posted between Dec. 2014 and Apr. 2015. No private data was disclosed, the company added.
Meanwhile, Twitter parted ways with Cambridge Analytica and other entities connected to the British firm. Twitter confirmed that GSR paid for the one-time access. It refused to offer more details on the transaction.
It is not the first time the social media website gives access to data to developers and advertisers. The data is also sold to entities that use it to craft statistics and improve customer service.
Some companies can access 30 days’ worth of tweets or an archive of older tweets. Twitter’s customers must first unveil how will they use the data and who the end users are. Twitter does not monetize private data like direct messages.
Around 270,000 users downloaded Kogan’s controversial app.
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