Facebook has recently announced new changes to its platform policy. The new changes forbids developers from using data collected from the site as surveillance. Specific references to the use of collected data were made to inform developers of rules or prevent any loopholes. The changes also apply to Instagram as well.
In the last couple of months, Facebook has had several instances of companies using information collected as surveillance. In one of the larger recent cases, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) explained that law enforcement used Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to track events and protestors after the Freddie Gray's death in Baltimore. Once discovered, the companies denied the enforcement agency's access to the platform's data and revoked access to the social media database.
In response to the ACLU report, Facebook shut off access to Geofeedia. Geofeedia is a Chicago-based vendor that uses location-based information to predict actions based on social media conversations. Geofeedia is just one of the technologies that is being used secretly by enforcement agencies to monitor others. This was one program that was heavily used by agencies. In some instances, enforcement agencies would watch social media posts and run photos through facial recognition systems to locate specific people.
In Geofeedia, the map seen doesn't make a distinction between individuals. It shows the posts made people and the platform they used it with. Any data attached to the post is available to see through public metadata. The system itself violates several clauses in both Facebook and Twitter's official policies.
Facebook claims that it worked with various civil liberties groups to make the policy change. Social media platforms are looking to make their space more accountable and effective for it's users. Having a space where users can have your opinions voiced without retribution is imperative for many users. While companies like Facebook and Twitter are working for the privacy and safety of it's users, there's sure to be more information policy changes as we continue in our technological growth.