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After Reports, Facebook Bans the Creation of Spy Tools

The more technology advances, the more open we become to scrupulous activity. Facebook has recently responded to the reports that a few surveillance agencies have been using the social media giant as a means for spying. Since the report has been made Facebook has responded by updating its platform policy to prevent such things from occurring.

The deputy chief privacy officer at Facebook, Rob Sherman, announced this new policy platform update just this Monday. Sherman and his team say that they have made sure that the language in Facebook’s Platform Privacy are very clear in preventing unwanted surveillance tools from spying on Facebook profile information.

Sherman told a source Monday that Facebook was “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.”

This, however, isn’t the first time that Facebook has responded to such reports. Back in November, car insurer Admiral wanted to gain access to Facebook user information. The company claimed it wanted to access user accounts so that it would be able to tell people’s risk of being in a collision based on drinking habits and even personality types.

The social media giant has taken any and all step necessary in the past few months to make sure developers stop taking advantage of the sites large range of user data. Developers have been using Facebook user data to create, market and even sell spying tools.

This new platform policy development, however, has been created to make it evident that any such actions are clearly a violation.

The reports of these actions were first issued by the American Civil Liberties Union of California (ACLU), Color of Change, and the Center for Media Justice. These organizations made claims that developers were using Facebooks data in order to form spy tools from Facebook’s API.

ACLU states that even Instagram and Twitter, along with Facebook, were giving data information to Geofeedia. Geofeedia is a social networking surveillance company which gives tracking and spying tools to protesters and activists.

In proof of these accusations, law enforcement used the software to spy on those who were out protesting police violence near the San Jose and Baltimore areas. Later the software was used to keep track of hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter.

It didn’t take long into the investigation for all three of the social media sites to get rid of the software, cutting Geofeedia off completely. Yet while Facebook has technology that can manually and automatedly monitor developers, there’s no actual guarantee that those developers will abide by the policies. Although the spy world is rather slippery in its operations, Facebook setting its rules in stone is one large step in the direction of putting surveillance to a stop.

The platform policy can be found here and reads as follows: “Protect the information you receive from us against unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. For example, don’t use data obtained from us to provide tools that are used for surveillance.”

Sherman told a source, “We will continue using our policies to support our community, and we hope that these efforts will help encourage other companies to take positive steps as well.”

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