As part of its ongoing mission to close the stall doors after the cows have dropped out, Facebook has exposed the accounts of British data analysis firm Crimson Hexagon for concerns that it could mistreat user data.
The ominous company has been using official APIs for years to collect public contributions from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other sources online for a variety of purposes, such as analyzing public opinion on a political candidate or issue , It has customers all over the world serving Russia and Turkey as well as the USA and the UK.
Facebook does not seem to have been aware of the extent of Crimson Hexagon's use of user data, even in several government contracts it did not have before they came into force. The possibility that the company would not comply with its data usage rules, in particular because it helped build surveillance tools, was obviously real enough for Facebook to become active. Maybe the suspension suspension last year was lowered a bit, and with good reason.
"We are investigating the allegations about Crimson Hexagon to see if they violate our policies," said Facebook VP Product Partnerships Ime Archibong
The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on the suspension, noted that Crimson Hexagon currently has a contract with FEMA to oversee the online discussion for various disaster-related purposes, but a deal with ICE fell through as Twitter resisted this request
Apart from the assumption that the company has taken a job, On the brink of what social media companies consider appropriate use of public data, Crimson Hexagon seems to have done nothing so outrageous as the wholesale network collection made by others. It confines itself to publicly available data that is worth accessing, and uses its own methods to create its own brand of insight and intelligence.
The company is also not (at least not obviously) a quasi-independent arm of a large, seedy network of companies actively working to disguise their connections and business, as Cambridge Analytica was. Crimson Hexagon is above the board with ordinary venture investments and partnerships. His work is similar to that of CA, collecting insights from possibly disturbing specifics from billions of public offices, but at least very precisely.
As before, the responsibility for compelling Facebook to use Facebook is the same as dealing with the diligent handling of user data. It's hardly a good data store for Facebook to allow companies to take what they need under a handshake agreement, that they do no harm, and then kill them years later, when the damage has already been done. But this now seems to be the company's top priority: to repeat the folk metaphor from above, the cows that have gone astray wildly count themselves apologizing for having opened the door for the last decade.
Incidentally, Crimson Hexagon was co-founded by the same person responsible for Facebook's new social science initiative: Harvard Gary King. In a statement, he denied any involvement in his everyday work, even though he is chairman. Undoubtedly, this link will also be reviewed on Facebook.