Unless you’ve been living under a rock, the burning issue in the tech world these past few months was the Facebook – Cambridge Analytica fiasco. It’s a grim reminder that no matter how careful you are with your online profiles, your information is still being used, cataloged, tracked, monetized and analyzed by a number of companies out there.
In this case, analytics firm Cambridge Analytica is being accused of having acquired a treasure trove of Facebook users’ data by way of a third-party app that served as a personality test. If you’re a Facebook customer, it’s safe to assume that you are one of those 87 million. Click here for a way to find out for sure.
The fiasco even led to two days worth of congressional hearings where Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was grilled with questions ranging from the Cambridge Analytica scandal to overall privacy issues, data collection, how the site should be regulated and even any potential political bias within its walls.
The alleged culprit in the Cambridge Analytica data harvest is Cambridge University professor Dr. Aleksandr Kogan. He developed a Facebook app called “thisisyourdigitallife” and he is accused of sharing his data with data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica.
Now, the question is, what other social media sites did Kogan gain access to? It turns out that apart from Facebook, Kogan reportedly had access to at least another social media network’s public data.
Kogan also scooped Twitter data
According to Bloomberg, Professor Aleksandr Kogan also has his own independent data company called Global Science Research (GSR) and for one day in 2015, the firm was allowed access to Twitter’s public data generated by five month’s worth of posts.
Apparently, Kogan’s GSR paid Twitter for one-day access to harvest a “random sample” of public tweets from December 2014 to April 2015.
However, Twitter said that upon conducting an internal review, the company did not find “find any access to private data about people who use Twitter.”
What did Kogan do with the Twitter data?
In its defense, Twitter said that its service “is public by its nature” and anyone can search for past public tweets. The data does not include direct messages nor protected tweets and private accounts.
However, Twitter also sells API access to large companies and organizations for gauging popular opinion around certain topics or events.
No one knows exactly what Kogan’s firm did with the Twitter data it scooped up but based on the relatively short timeframe it accessed, it was probably analyzing prevailing public sentiments in that period.
Cambridge Analytica denies involvement
In response, Cambridge Analytica tweeted out that it never purchased nor used the Twitter data harvested by Kogan’s firm.
Despite this admission, Twitter has removed Cambridge Analytica and its affiliates from its advertising platform.
How can this affect you?
Due to the public nature of Twitter’s platform, GSR’s paid data access is not exactly a major privacy issue. Twitter turns off geo-location from tweets by default and Twitter’s data on its users is not as personal as Facebook’s.
However, it’s still a privacy concern if GSR managed to link and correlate the Twitter data to Facebook profiles.
Not convinced? Here’s how to delete your Twitter account:
Sick and tired of social media in general? To part ways with Twitter, here are the steps. Visit your Twitter Account Settings >> Deactivate My Account >> Okay, Fine, Deactivate My Account. Enter your password and Twitter should take care of the rest.
If you are feeling remorseful about the loss of Twitter, don’t worry: You can bring your account back from the dead anytime within 30 days of deactivation. Only after a month has elapsed does Twitter start to permanently delete your information.
Unlike some other social media sites, Twitter doesn’t remove anything during this 30-day period. You should be able to log on and find everything as you left it.
In other social media news, new Instagram tool lets you keep a copy of everything you shared on the app
In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that has compelled Facebook to address its privacy policies, Instagram is also offering a way for its users to download their data. Click here to learn how.