Research

Twitter Says It Sold Data to Cambridge University Researcher

Twitter Says It Sold Data to Cambridge University Researcher

"We conducted our own internal review and did not find any access to private data about people who use Twitter", the company said in an email.

McLaughlin goes on to explain that any information you include in social media profiles like age, location and preferences can be extremely valuable to those looking to cash in, "the more data someone has on you the more targeted advertisements.big corporations, big companies will pay a lot of money to target ads to consumers".

Cambridge Analytica, a data firm that worked with the Trump campaign, is facing scrutiny for allegedly misleading rival social-media company Facebook and violating its policy for handling user data.

Twitter sold data to the Cambridge University researcher who harvested millions of Facebook users' private information without their consent.

After that, Twitter made a decision to remove Cambridge Analytica and related entities as Cambridge Analytica operated "using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices".

Twitter openly sells public data access to organisations through its application programming interface (APIs).

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Since the 2016 US Presidential election, Twitter has been criticized for its failure to prevent the spread of fake news.

As per the GSR data, accessed on August 17, 2016, the enterprise also offered segmented data which included general demographic makeup and economic situation, psychological traits, interests, hobbies, favourite celebrities and top music artists. In the January-March quarter of this year, the company claims to have removed more than 142,000 apps connected to the Twitter API. Twitter also practices portion control, only giving access to tweets published over a limited period of time.

Although GSR's shopping habits were above board, Cambridge Analytica was quick to deny receiving or using any data obtained this way.

Kogan's company, Global Science Research (GSR), gained access to Twitter data through its API, reportedly for a single day in 2015. That revelation has prompted regulatory investigations in several countries and an appearance by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg before the U.S. Congress (see Facebook: Day of Reckoning, or Back to Business as Usual?). This incident was made possible because of Facebook's ever so callous attitude towards their users' privacy.

More is expected to follow in the coming months, as Twitter reacts to the data privacy controversy and how it's affected the entire online space.

Citing a person familiar with the matter, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that Cambridge Analytica is no more, and employees have been told to turn in their computers.