Facebook Updates Policy To Prevent Using Data For Surveillance

Yesterday (13th March 2017) Facebook updated the privacy policy to prevent mass surveillance on its platform. The tech giant took this step after a lot of pressure from the civil rights organizations. The reason civil rights organizations protested against this policy is the police agencies take undue advantage of the Facebook app or Facebook messenger to collect data on users.

So what exactly they are going to do now? The company is updating the privacy policy so that the developers cannot build the surveillance tools. Thus, they won’t be able to give data to the police.

Facebook crossed a limit

Facebook was involved in supplying real-time data and surveillance information on its users to 500 law enforcement agencies. It happened last year where cops could geo-locate users and track use of certain keywords and emoji.

The worst part was they could even run images through facial recognition software. Initially, the company claimed the law enforcement agencies didn’t violate the privacy policy because they only used “public” data. After that, Facebook and Instagram booted Geofeedia from the service. They updated the policies so that the geo-tracking is not possible.

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The ban on surveillance became necessary because Facebook gave developers, the access to public feeds. It was mostly to keep track of the events and trends. But, one developer took advantage of this access and created surveillance tools at the protestors.

It also included other significant features that will allow business and organizations to post job listings. It will sparkle up the competition with LinkedIn. The tech giant also launched Lumos. It is the AI which can find the photos by going through their content.

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Statement on the ban of surveillance

Here is the statement about the change in their privacy policy.
[quotes quotes_style=”bquotes” quotes_pos=”center”]Today we are 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.[/quotes] Their primary goal is to make the policy explicit.

In the past months, they took enforcement action against the developers who marketed and created the tools for surveillance. Well, this is a good thing. At least you should feel safe now, right? But, let us just remind you, this does not mean Facebook mobile app or Facebook messenger won’t provide information. Cops can still get information about you from FB.

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You are still not completely safe

The reason is, the company didn’t commit to fighting the subpoenas from officers. They can ask for as much information as they want when they gather evidence. The company complies with all police requests for information on users. A subpoena will allow any police officials to collect private information. So, in case any police officials get a subpoena and ask for private information on users, Facebook will offer it.

One more important feature is, Facebook banned on a specific form of surveillance. It still collects a vast amount of information on users and sells the data. For instance, Facebook collects the users’ race and religion and offers them when asked. Recently, Twitter also terminated Geofeedia to access real-time location of users. Facebook worked with the civil liberties group which include the ACLU and the Color of Change for crafting the policy change.

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