Facebook Suspends US-Based Analytics Firm Over Data Concerns

Facebook Suspends US-Based Analytics Firm Over Data Concerns

The development comes after the data firm Cambridge Analytica was discovered to have gained unauthorized access to up to 87 million Facebook users' data, mainly in the United States.

Facebook announced Friday it is suspending its contracts with a Boston-based analytics firm to investigate whether the company violated the social-media giant's policies regarding the use of members' public data. Along with brands like Samsung, Twitter, Adidas and GM, the Wall Street Journal reports that Crimson Hexagon has held contracts with both USA government agencies and a Russian nonprofit group with connections to the Kremlin.

Among the Crimson Hexagon's clients is a Russian nonprofit with ties to the Kremlin, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported news of Facebook's decision.

Facebook has suspended the account of another social media analytical firm.

Crimson Hexagon's chief technology officer, Chris Bingham, said in a statement obtained by the Washington Post on Friday, "Crimson Hexagon is fully cooperating with Facebook who has publicly stated its investigation to date has found no wrongdoing".

Still, the latest data dust-up is likely to dog Facebook politically months after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg was grilled by lawmakers in the USA and Europe when it suspended Cambridge Analytica. "We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate", said a Facebook spokesman.

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Facebook acknowledged this month that it was facing multiple inquiries from USA and British regulators about a scandal involving the British consultancy Cambridge Analytica.

"We don't allow developers to build surveillance tools using information from Facebook or Instagram", said Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships.

"Crimson Hexagon only allows government customers to use the platform for specific approved use cases; and under no circumstances is surveillance a permitted use case", Bringham wrote.

The analytics site said government contracts comprise a small part of its business, and notes that governments use the insights in the same way as business - to understand the public's perception, preferences and sentiment about particular issues. People can share their information with developers on Facebook and Instagram - just as they can when they download an app on their phone.

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. The company's customers include Adidas, BBC, General Motors, Samsung and Twitter and Walmart. "Facebook has a responsibility to help protect people's information which is one of the reasons why we have tightened our APIs significantly over the last few years".

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".

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