Post Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica incident, reports regarding a Twitter data leak have surfaced everywhere and has been confirmed to be true. The microblogging platform sold data access to Global Science Research (GSR), owned by Aleksandr Kogan. Kogan was the Cambridge University academic who created a personality quiz on social networking site Facebook. He used to it gain access to information later used by Cambridge Analytica. Information regarding millions of Facebook users was obtained. The information was provided to a political consulting firm, SCL Group. It was provided without any consent from users.
GSR was provided access to large-scale public Twitter data covering months of posts for a day in 2015 (according to Twitter, as reported by Bloomberg Technology). The access led to the Twitter data leak.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Twitter said, “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. 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.” Twitter has already removed Cambridge Analytica and affiliated groups as advertisers. According to them, GSR paid for the access and didn’t provide details.
Twitter Data Leak: How Did It Happen?
The social networking company gives certain companies, users, and developers permission to access public data through its APIs, or software that requests and delivers data. Moreover, it is given to companies, who analyze events etc.
More complex business customers are provided with large data access. It consists posts that go far back. Whereas for this permission, customers need to explain their reasons for accessing such data. Moreover, the microblogging company doesn’t sell private direct messaging data. Anyways, the company has access to less private data than Zuckerberg’s company.
Regarding the Facebook data leak, around 270,000 people downloaded the personality quiz app. It shared information about the users, their friends. Moreover, it was passed to Cambridge Analytica. Mark Zuckerberg has already testified in front of the USA Congress regarding the incident. Moreover, according to Facebook’s estimate, Kogan was able to harvest information of 87 million people and he passed on the information to Trump-affiliated political firm Cambridge Analytica which would use it to target voters in the 2016 US Presidential election.