Back in 2018, in the midst of the furor surrounding how Cambridge Analytica had allegedly utilized Facebook data to manipulate voter actions in various elections, many of the key questions related to Facebook’s lax protection measures, which had enabled organizations like CA to access the platform’s vast data banks in the first place.
Facebook responded to this, instituting a new app review system and new limits on data access via its APIs. And now, Facebook has announced the next stage in this process, with a new, annual ‘Data Use Checkup’ which all apps that use Facebook’s APIs will be subjected to going forward.
As per Facebook:
“Today, we are announcing early testing of Data Use Checkup, a new annual process for developers to ensure API access and data use comply with the Facebook Platform Policy. Developers enrolled in testing should complete this request for each of their apps within 60 days, or risk losing their API access.”
Right now, testing is limited, and Facebook is also working to avoid putting undue stress on organizations that are also dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 shutdowns around the world. But eventually, all apps will need to submit to checking once per year, to ensure that they’re not misusing Facebook’s data for purposes outside of the scope of their agreements.
The process is a beefed-up version of Facebook’s existing App Review system – under App Review, developers need to justify their usage of Facebook’s API tools in accordance with platform policies, and submit such for review by Facebook. Data Use Checkup is a self-service tool, which all developers will soon be required to undertake in order to continue using Facebook’s data.
As noted, it’s another check to avoid another Cambridge Analytica-type situation, where organizations are using Facebook data without permission, and for purposes outside the regulations, as per Facebook’s terms. Definitely, Facebook has strengthened its systems in this respect. It remains to be seen whether all of this type of misuse has been eliminated by these enhanced actions – but as with CA, a big part of the problem is that once that data is out, it can be used in various ways, and it’s impossible to ever get it back.
Basically, even with these measures in place, Facebook’s data set that CA was using is still in circulation, and is still relevant for most purposes. That will always be the risk of such data – once it gets leaked, it’s too late, there’s no amount of measures you can put in place to drag it all back and stop misuse.
That’s also the critical flaw with each of these updates – while they do add to Facebook’s security, we won’t know that they’ve been totally effective until it’s too late.
Still, it puts another check in place to monitor use of Facebook’s API, and another layer to its security process.
Jack Dorsey Exits Twitter Board, Clearing the Way for the Elon Musk Era at the App
While there’s no new news on the Elon Musk takeover saga, we do have another reminder that Twitter’s leadership team is never going to be the same, regardless of what comes next, with co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey today leaving the Twitter board, effective immediately.
Dorsey’s full exit removes another big chunk of experience from the company – over the past two weeks, Twitter has lost:
- Consumer product leader Kayvon Beykpour, who’d worked at Twitter for four years
- Head of revenue product Bruce Falck (5 years)
- Ilya Brown, a VP of product management (6 years)
- Katrina Lane, VP of Twitter Service (1 year)
- Max Schmeiser, head of data science (2 years)
That said, Dorsey’s move, isn’t a surprise.
Back in November, when Dorsey announced that he was standing down as Twitter CEO, he also noted that he would stay on Twitter’s board till around ‘May-ish’ to help incoming CEO Parag Agrawal and incoming Twitter Board chair Bret Taylor with their respective transitions.
Of course, back then, Dorsey couldn’t have predicted the chaos on the horizon, but despite the distractions of an imminent takeover, Dorsey has decided to stick with his original plan, and step away from the platform that he helped build.
That clears the path for a new era under Elon Musk, who has vowed to make significant changes to the way that Twitter operates – though of late, Musk seems to be more distracted by stats on population decline and political conspiracies than he does in completing the Twitter deal.
On May 13th, Musk said that his Twitter takeover offer was effectively ‘on hold’ pending more data from Twitter on its fake profile count, which it pegs at 5% of active users. Many users have since shared partial evidence that, in their opinion, proves that this number is not correct, while Twitter itself has maintained that there’s no such thing as ‘on hold’ in the takeover process, and that it’s preparing for the deal to close sometime soon.
Musk says that he won’t pay full price for something that’s not what he believed he was purchasing.
But then again, Musk also waived doing detailed due diligence on Twitter’s business, in order to reach an agreement faster, which means that he may be tied to the purchase anyway, regardless of what Twitter or anyone else may find here.
For his part, Dorsey has been a strong advocate for Musk, and his interest in Twitter, and has noted several times that he believes Musk is the best option to ‘save’ the company.
Elon’s goal of creating a platform that is “maximally trusted and broadly inclusive” is the right one. This is also @paraga’s goal, and why I chose him. Thank you both for getting the company out of an impossible situation. This is the right path…I believe it with all my heart.
— jack (@jack) April 26, 2022
Now Dorsey is getting out of the way to let that happen, which will mean that none of Twitter’s four founders remain in any position to advise or guide the platform in any direct capacity from now on.
That could be a good thing. Twitter, of course, is a far cry from what it was in the beginning, and maybe now it needs to detach from its founding concepts to reach its next stage.
But again, that’s a lot of experience heading out the door, with current CEO Agrawal also on the chopping block, according to Musk’s statements.
How that impacts Twitter’s future direction is hard to say. Again, Musk has already flagged significant changes, but without experienced voices advising him on what’s happened in the past, he could be doomed to repeat previous mistakes, impeding the company’s progress even more.
Or maybe it makes things easier, without the constraints of past limitations holding things up. I would lean towards the former, but clearly, Musk has his own ideas about how he’s going to transform the app, once he does, eventually, take control.
Which seems like more of a ‘when’ than ‘if’, but maybe Musk has some other trick up his sleeve to either reduce his offer price or get out of the Twitter deal entirely.
Either way, massive changes are coming to the app, which could alter the way that it’s used entirely.
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