Facebook suspends Boston analytics firm over data usage

Marco Green
July 22, 2018

Facebook has suspended a US-based analytics firm while it investigates concerns about the collection and sharing of user data.

Facebook said it was looking into whether some of these deals were in violation of its policies on surveillance.

In March 2017, Facebook prohibited user data being used for government surveillance following pressure from civil liberties groups concerned about the targeting of dissidents and protesters.

Facebook has suspended a Boston analytics firm from its site and says it is investigating whether the company's contracts with the United States government and a Russian non-profit organisation violated policies, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

But the stock performance was overshadowed by news late Friday that Facebook had suspended Crimson Hexagon, pending an investigation.

"We are investigating the claims about Crimson Hexagon to see if they violated any of our policies", Ime Archibong, Facebook's VP of product partnerships, said in a statement. "We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate Based on our investigation to date, Crimson Hexagon did not obtain any Facebook or Instagram information inappropriately". It boasts of being able to analyse more than 160m photographs posted online every day. The company's customers include Adidas, BBC, General Motors, Samsung and Twitter and Walmart.

In fact, Crimson Hexagon pays Twitter for access to a large amount of tweets; considering that Facebook has restrictions on the amount of data that can be collected by third parties, Crimson Hexagon collects more data from Twitter than from Facebook. People can share their information with developers on Facebook and Instagram - just as they can when they download an app on their phone. Facebook allows outside firms to use "anonymized insights for business purposes", but not for surveillance. It did not respond to a request for comment.

In a statement to the portal Fast Company, King said: "Even though he is co-founder and board chairman, he has never had day-to-day involvement in Crimson Hexagon".

Crimson Hexagon's Chief Technology Officer Chris Bingham told the Journal that his company does not collect private information, adding that they are "working together to resolve the issue as quickly as possible".

In April this year, Facebook had warned investors that more users" data scandals in the future may adversely affect the social networking giant " s reputation and brand image. The firm said it sticks to information that anyone can publicly access, and does not collect private data and tried to draw a clear distinction between its behavior and that of Cambridge Analytica.

You could be forgiven for arguing there seem to be really only three or four stories about Facebook at the moment, and that the crush of news coverage lately generally falls into one of those buckets.

The WSJ reported that Crimson Hexagon may have received data it should not have in at least one instance from 2016.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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