Micro blogging website Twitter sold data to the Cambridge University academic who collected the data of millions of Facebook users, The Telegraph reported on Saturday. Aleksandr Kogan, who created tools for British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, bought user data from Twitter in 2015, the daily said.
Cambridge Analytica is under scrutiny for allegedly harvesting the information of over 70 million Facebook users to influence the outcome of the United States presidential election in 2016. Earlier in April, parliamentarians in the United Kingdom published evidence about Brexit campaign group Leave.EU benefiting from work done by the firm.
Kogan created an entity called Global Science Research, which was granted access to Twitter data, The Telegraph said. Kogan bought tweets, usernames, photos, profile pictures and location data from Twitter between December 2014 and April 2015.
However, Kogan said the information had only been used to create “brand reports” and “survey extender tools”, without violating the social media network’s policies, PTI said quoting the Telegraph report.
Twitter charges companies to collect tweets in large numbers, the report said. But it bans firms from using the data to derive sensitive political information or to match it with personal information on other platforms.
An unidentified Twitter spokesperson said on Saturday that the company had decided not to accept advertising from any 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,” he said.
A Cambridge Analytica spokesperson admitted that the company used Twitter for political advertising, but denied that the firm had received Twitter data from Global Science Research.
Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg had told a committee of the United States Senate that Cambridge Analytica had illegally used his personal data too. Zuckerberg had also apologised for failing to protect the personal information of millions of people.