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Facebook Privacy Communications Government Networking Security Social Networks The Internet Technology

Facebook and Instagram Ban Developers From Using Data For Surveillance (theguardian.com) 63

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Facebook and Instagram have banned developers from using their data for surveillance with a new privacy policy that civil rights activists have long sought to curb spying by law enforcement. Following revelations last year that police departments had gained special access to the social networks to track protesters, Facebook, which owns Instagram, announced on Monday that it had updated its rules to state that developers could not "use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance." The American Civil Liberties Union obtained government records last year revealing that Facebook, Instagram and Twitter had provided users' data to a software company that aids police surveillance programs and had helped law enforcement monitor Black Lives Matter demonstrations. The ACLU found that the social networking sites had given "special access" to Geofeedia, a controversial startup that has partnered with law enforcement to track streams of user content. "Our goal is to make our policy explicit," Facebook said in its announcement on Monday. "Over the past several months we have taken enforcement action against developers who created and marketed tools meant for surveillance, in violation of our existing policies; we want to be sure everyone understands the underlying policy and how to comply."

Facebook and Instagram Ban Developers From Using Data For Surveillance

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  • The cat's out of the bag now, jokers! Good luck stuffing it back in there. Eventually everyone else will realize you should have built privacy into the API.

    • ugh.. it is actually built into the api, at least for general run of the mill 3rd party developers. it's not like you can just sign up as a developer and get access to random peoples privately shared data.

      now if you sign up and okay access for a "please surveillance me" app then.. well, duh.

      the stuff you can get without permissions you can get via regular http/web anyways, if the target has chosen to do so. which of course begs the question wtf are geofeedia etc selling. my bet is that they're selling 99.99

      • No, that is false. You in fact CAN just sign up for a 3rd party developer account, and all it takes to harvest all the personal details of someone is for them or any one on their friends list to use your app. There is no technical roadblock against doing this. The only restrictions on data use are in the ToS and (at least up until now) that was enforced solely by the honor system.

        Absolutely none of this stuff can be gotten "via regular http/web." Through Facebook, the "permission" you refer to consists me

  • Well that's rich (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 13, 2017 @08:51PM (#54033701)

    They're going to have to ban their own developers, too. Facebook and Instagram are surveillance platforms for marketing companies.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Only WE can do surveillance!"

    • Me thinks we're going to need some definitions here.

      surveillance: Keeping an eye on what someone does.
      Facebook: A way to keep an eye on what people do.

      Never mind marketing, though that's a good point too, the whole purpose of Facebook is to see what people are up to. On Twitter they even use the word "follow someone". Just like if you're doing surveillance on foot you might follow someone.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Nah doublespeak "Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org], will serve the just fine.

        Far more accurate headline would be "Facebook and Instagram launch marketing program to trick their users into believing they are no longer being monitored, analysed and targeting with selected manipulative marketing".

        One thing I am really curious about is why people think it is OK for corporations to spy on them in ways t

        • Marketers trying to sell you something don't send a SWAT team if you tell them no. Say "no" to the government (and stick to that answer), they'll send a heavily armed squad for you, after they confiscate your bank account etc. The government is by far the worst of the goon squads.

          • You realise, I trust, that the only reason that companies don't send armed goons to harass you any more is that the Government-paid goons stop them?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    So, let me get this straight, Twitter & Facebook think they can tell the government what to do now?

    I'm sure the CIA will just take "no" for an answer quietly. They won't just write an NSL saying shut up, do this, and tell no one.

  • what a joke (Score:5, Insightful)

    by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:00PM (#54033737)

    This 'ban' will not stand up to an NSL..

    • by Anonymous Coward

      this was never about not cooperating with law enforcement. This is FB's way of cutting out the middleman. If law enforcement wants FB's data, they simply go through FB. FB is merely trying to stop the monetization of their own data by 3rd parties. I'm sure FB will try to sell the service to law enforcement for an amount similar to the 3rd parties. This isn't about privacy, its about protection of their profits.

  • "Rule" ? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zanadou ( 1043400 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @09:05PM (#54033763)

    Oh, a "rule" ??

    Well, okay. Sure. That'll work.

    /insert Gene Wilder/Wonka meme here

  • after they finish laughing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    They want the monopoly.

  • Hahahahahahahahaha! Harharhr!

    April fools day came in March this year..

    Seriously, what is Facebook going to do? Give them a mean look or something?

  • Alternative Headline (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ( 4621901 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @10:43PM (#54034149)

    Facebook and Instagram Want Clients To Buy Their Surveillance Data

  • Disgusting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jim Sadler ( 3430529 ) on Monday March 13, 2017 @11:09PM (#54034223)
    Dr. King was a victim of spying by the US government as well as efforts to ruin his reputation. Over fifty years later we have the FBI tracking people for supporting Black Lives Matter. Somehow a theme of we don't like black folks being converted into those black folks can not be trusted and must be watched. Maybe we simply must not ever have anything like the FBI in America.
  • by superdave80 ( 1226592 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @03:01AM (#54034747)
    Isn't the entire point of facebook to look at all of the stuff people have posted? How is looking at your stuff on facebook different from surveillance?
  • Effect: Nothing. Why is this even worth a story?

  • by CanadianMacFan ( 1900244 ) on Tuesday March 14, 2017 @11:23AM (#54036813)

    It won't actually accomplish anything but it allows the companies to tell their data sources, aka customers, that the companies are looking out for their interests. A couple of the smaller developers working out of their homes will be shut out to prove that the new rules are working but the larger shops and the government will continue working as usual.

  • Given their history of selective enforcement, this will only apply to anything deemed a threat to leftist narratives.

  • No, that is false. You in fact CAN just sign up for a 3rd party developer account, and all it takes to harvest all the personal details of someone is for them or any one on their friends list to use your app. There is no technical roadblock against doing this. The only restrictions on data use are in the ToS and (at least up until now) that was enforced solely by the honor system.

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