According to some reports, Facebook bans user data use for creating surveillance tools, cracking down on a procedure that police departments apparently used to track activists and protesters.
Heavily nudged by the ACLU, Facebook on Monday stated that it has updated its policy to explicitly forbid developers from using its data for surveillance.
Rob Sherman, Facebook’s Deputy Chief Privacy Officer, wrote on the company’s privacy page,
“Today we are adding language to our Facebook and Instagram platform policies to more clearly explain that developers cannot use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”
An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) report found that Facebook, its Instagram unit, and Twitter provided feeds of user data to a social media monitoring program. These feeds utilized by police to track location data and other information to spy on protesters in places such as Baltimore, Oakland, Missouri, and Ferguson. The group made a call to the companies to make changes.
In a response to the ACLU report, Facebook bans user data use to prevent citizens’ social media activity to monitor them – whether directly or by purchasing.
Read more about Facebook at Finally You Can See Dislike Button on Facebook
Social media surveillance is a rising concern, particularly among those folks who use Facebook and Twitter for activism. Even though Facebook didn’t define surveillance in its policy, Cagle said that it’s not a bad thing. He further added,
“By banning surveillance in general, it lets them broadly apply the policy and future proofs it.”
By forbidding developers to the use of its data to track citizens, the social networking company is emphasizing its power in the face of law enforcement. It also unveils the increasingly dominant role it plays in circulating information.
Facebook bans user data use by saying that it is a result of months of work with advocacy organizations, including the ACLU of California, the Centre for Media Justice, and Color of Change. In a collective statement, the organizations called this a “first step”. However, the company didn’t reveal how it will inspect if its data is being used according to policy.