Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is denying police departments access to a vast range of data that is being used to check out activists and protestors.
The drastic change of events
Facebook announced the move on Monday March 13th. This is after concerns were raised about the police tracking protestor social media accounts in places including Missouri, Baltimore and Ferguson. This is also the time Mark Zukerberg, CEO of Facebook, announced plans to expand the company’s objectives. He says its time the company shifted to promoting safety and the community instead of merely connecting the world into friends networks.
Core business for social networks
The core business of social networks is advertising but besides this, the companies also enable providers to access the users’ public feeds. Such information is used to monitor public events and current trends. For instance, advertisers use such information to track how the market is reacting to their products, the Red Cross has also used social data to acquire real-time proceedings during disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.
Social networks in trouble
Social networks got in trouble for associating with third parties who sell data to law enforcers. Last year social networks had to deny access to Geofeedia, a start-up that shared data with the police in relation to an investigation by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU released documents containing references to tracking 2015 protests at Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray, a black man while under police custody as well as to 2014 protests after the police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson Missouri.
Change of events at Facebook
Facebook assigned instructions to developers outlining that they cannot use information from the network to provide surveillance tools. It also reported that after Geofeedia, other developers have been kicked out too. Up to now Facebook hasn’t been explicit about who gets to use the information users post to the public.
Reaction from the public
Some departments are happy with the progress saying that it helps fight crime if a gang decides to give references to their crimes. The ACLU stated that they rely on social networks for communications about core issues political, social and life issues at large. Hence the need to shut down any surveillance side doors from malicious intended people.