Twitter Inc. (NYSE: TWTR) sold its users’ data to Cambridge Analytica, who also obtained users’ information from Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB), without the consent of its users, Twitter confirmed with Bloomberg.
Aleksandr Kogan, who harvested data from Facebook users through a quiz, created his own commercial enterprise, Global Science Research (GSR). His own firm purchased API access to a large database of public tweets back in 2015, but Twitter told Bloomberg that the firm did not have access to private data about its users.
“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.”
Twitter sells an API service to businesses or organizations to access a database of public tweets mainly for surveys or the public’s opinion on topics. The social media giant has said previously that it does not sell private messaging data and that users must also agree to have their tweets include a location.
To receive access to Twitter’s API service, customers must explain how they intend to use the data, similar to Facebook’s terms of services. Facebook’s terms were violated by Kogan, as he said his app was used for psychological research purposes, but was wrongly used.
Unlike Facebook, Twitter has far less access to users’ information, which doesn’t seem to affect many users. Regardless, Twitter has now decided to remove Cambridge Analytica and any other affiliates as advertisers.
“Twitter has also made the policy decision to off-board advertising from all accounts owned and operated by Cambridge Analytica. This decision is based on our determination that Cambridge Analytica operates using a business model that inherently conflicts with acceptable Twitter Ads business practices.” Twitter said in a statement to The Telegraph.