Social media platforms are experiencing a lot of pressure recently. The online world keeps receiving same features of the real world, especially personal data. Like in everyday life, people don’t want their personal details to be used by companies for surveillance purposes. The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Media Justice, Color of Change, and other such organizations urged social companies to take a stand in this direction. Thus, Facebook is going to change developer policy so it includes explicit terms about surveillance tools.
Facebook Marked Data Used for Surveillance Purposes against the Rules
ACLU is just one of the organizations that revealed the many ways developers can collect information from Facebook’s APIs. Afterwards, they can turn them into surveillance tools to the great benefit of law enforcement and companies’ marketing. On the other hand, Facebook declined to publish data that would have supported or not these claims.
For instance, ACLU gave away a surveillance software Geofeedia. This tool used to collect social posts of protesters and sell them to law authorities. Twitter took proactive actions in this direction. Last year, the company banned Snaptrends and Media Sonar. These were monitoring companies that used to identify every post with different hashtags such as #IAmMikeBrown and #BlackLivesMatter. This way, their database contained the accounts of activists.
Facebook used to condemn such acts. However, the revelation of last year of how police departments use social platforms to identify protesters fueled the pressure the company feels in the privacy sector. This is why Facebook decided to change its developer terms to interdict the use of data for surveillance purposes explicitly.
Facebook Works with Developers to Create a Better Online Medium
Even though Facebook has interrupted connections with several surveillance firms, the company also wants to help the creation of upstanding analytics platforms. This is why it has already worked with different developers and improved their tools to respect their new terms.
Now that the rules explicitly condemn the use of data for surveillance purposes, any developer doing the other way around is going to be sanctioned. However, it is an extra task to keep an eye on signs of this behavior against the rules. This is why the company relies on both manual and automated detection to keep its medium clean from such practices. Users and advocacy groups can also support this effort by reporting any services and products that go against regulations.
Color of Change, Center for Media Justice, and ACLU are not settling for the only detection. They also urge the tech giant to become more proactive and even apply sanctions to those developers that violate the rules.
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