Twitter Sold Access to Data to A Researcher Involved in the Cambridge Analytica Scandal


It is clear that the most affected company by the data sharing scandal of Cambridge Analytica is Facebook. However, that does not imply that other social networks are completely unscathed. Recently, Twitter has confirmed to Bloomberg that the company has sold access to public data to the GSR of researcher Aleksandr Kogan. GSR is the firm whose quiz app collected personal information from millions of users of Facebook without their consent. Twitter said that GSR paid for a one day of access in 2015.  It added that it scooped up a “random sample” of public tweets that are covering a period between December 2014 and April 2015. Twitter said that it “did not find any access” to private data.

What Kogan and GSR did with the info is not exactly certain. Even though the short access window and random nature suggest that this was more about a study regarding a general sentiment at a moment in time instead of a targeted or sustained campaign.

At first look, this does not seem to be a major issue regarding privacy. Twitter profiles and tweets do not share much about the user outside of what the user writes, and GSR does not seem to have been venturing outside the official boundaries just like it did with Facebook. The most pressing concern is that GSR could probably have correlated data from Twitter and Facebook. Still, this reveals just how comprehensive the collection of data was.