Facebook is promptly responding to reports that intelligence and surveillance agencies are using social media networks, particularly Facebook, to create spying tools by updating its platform policy to remove now and omit such practices in the future. The announcement on the changes in the platform was made on Monday by Rob Sherman, Deputy Chief Officer for Privacy at Facebook, in a blog post on the social media platform.
According to Sherman, the said alterations to the language of the Facebook Platform Policy makes it very clear that the development of surveillance tools by using slurping Facebook profile data will no longer be acceptable, regardless of whether intelligence agencies argue that their surveillance is important in the fight against terrorism or that no U.S. citizens are being violated.
As of the day of the announcement, Facebook will be adding language, as well as on its Instagram platform, policies that more clearly explain that developers cannot use data obtained from social media to provide tools that are used for spying or surveillance. Sherman made this clear that their goal “is to make our policy explicit.” Over the past few months, the social media network giant claims that it has been taking much action against developers that have taken advantage of the network’s rich range of user data to create, market, and sell spying tools.
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The changes that Facebook have made are in response to reports from the Center for Media Justice, American Civil Liberties Union of California (ACLU), and Color of Change, that developers are using Facebook data to create marketable spy tools from Facebook’s API. According specifically to the ACLU, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are providing user data to Geofeedia, a social network surveillance company that offers tools to track and spy on protesters and activists. For instance, law enforcement has been known to use the software to target those protesting police violence in areas such as Baltimore and San Jose. It can also monitor hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter. As a result of the investigation, ACLU, CMJ, and CoC have cut off Geofeedia.