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Was your business's Twitter feed sold to Cambridge Analytica?

Twitter sold Aleksandr Kogan's firm Global Science Research access to large-scale public data in 2015.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Cambridge Analytica researcher Aleksandr Kogan purchased access to large-scale public Twitter data for one day in 2015. — Bloomberg, 2018
  • Twitter also came under fire during the 2016 US presidential election for failing to prevent the spread of misinformation and abuse on the platform. — Bloomberg, 2018

Turns out Facebook wasn't the only social media giant that may have been involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Twitter sold public data access to academic and Cambridge Analytica researcher Aleksandr Kogan, who had also gathered Facebook data from millions of users and sold it to the firm, Bloomberg reported.

For one day in 2015, Kogan's firm Global Science Research (GSR) was granted access to large-scale public Twitter data that included months of posts, Twitter confirmed to Bloomberg. GSR also collected Facebook data using a personality app, claiming it was for academic research, and later shared that data with Cambridge Analytica.

"In 2015, GSR did have one-time API access to a random sample of public tweets from a five-month period from December 2014 to April 2015," Twitter said in a statement to Bloomberg. "Based on the recent reports, we conducted our own internal review and did not find any access to private data about people who use Twitter."

SEE: EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) policy (Tech Pro Research)

Twitter has since removed Cambridge Analytica as an advertiser, Bloomberg reported. The news follows increasing concern over misuse of the platform, particularly after the 2016 US presidential election, when critics said it failed to prevent the spread of misinformation and abuse.

It is unknown how many Twitter users' data was accessed. In Facebook's case, information on up to 87 million users was "improperly shared" with Cambridge Analytica, as reported by our sister site ZDNet.

Businesses with public Twitter accounts may have been among those whose information was collected. And it's clear that data mining like this is a big business: Twitter sells certain companies access to public data through its APIs for purposes of analyzing events or customer service. It's "data licensing and other revenue" grew about 20%, to $90 million, in Q1 2018, according to Bloomberg.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently testified in front of Congress about the misuse of the platform's data. Lawmakers have since called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to do the same, Bloomberg reported.

Also see

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Image: CNET

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

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