back to article Shocker: Cambridge Analytica scandal touch-paper Aleksandr Kogan tapped Twitter data too

The Cambridge academic at the centre of the Facebook data-harvesting scandal also had access to Twitter data, the social network has confirmed. Aleksandr Kogan, who developed the app that sucked up the data of users and their friends to sell on to political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, had access to Twitter data for one …

  1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Meanwhile, geolocation is off by default, and the developer terms say:

    Twitter's geolocation is by default, the geolocation of pictures posted on twitter usually is not.

    So figuring out the location of the twitter poster is a matter of 3-4 lines in a high level language - just pull the pic and get it from the jpeg or video metadata.

    1. JohnFen

      Am I the only one who removes the metadata from pictures before I make them available anywhere on the net?

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge


        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I used to, but now I just don't put pictures out there.

      2. Mark 65

        These people are likely posting pictures straight from their phones or from an app on their phones in which case all bets are off. Always thought there should be a setting, much like Lightroom uses on exporting pictures, to strip metadata before sending.

        1. JohnFen

          That makes sense. I would never post a picture straight from my phone, because I can't strip the metadata that way.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Email Address

    Nothing stopping C.A. linking the two data sets together. The tweets someone shares or favourites and the people you follow can give a lot away about a person, add that to facebook and that's a pretty decent profile for targeted persuasion via ads.

    I'm also not buying the "one day" part of this. Maybe they did use it for one day but anyone can purchase the data so they probably did it under some other name and I can't imagine twitter being picky about where it gets its money from.

    1. Mark 65

      Re: Email Address

      That's the whole point about Big Data. It isn't about better relationships with customers etc it has always been about Big Snooping. Collect as many different data sets as possible and then link and analyse. Not that the work isn't interesting but it is certainly creepy. What a lot of people don't realise is that these data sets all end up in one place. They think data from company X and company Y never meets because they belong to rival chains but X & Y will both monetise their grandmothers for a dollar or two. Data brokers - now there's a thing.

      Just think...Tweet history, followers and following, Facebook posts, likes and network graph, shopping history, electoral role data, LinkedIn or recruitment agency data etc. There is a shit-tonne of information out there to be analysed.

  3. An nonymous Cowerd

    I agree with the recently broadcast BBC news anchors that we are in a full-blown information war - since around 2014.

    I personally don’t think it’s Airstrip1 against east/west-eurasia & vice-versa but simply a war of control against the people.

    How soon to gdpr-day, and can we have retrospective fines from day-1 please?

    I have a little list

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the information was public anyway

    selling public information, so cool!

  5. Elmer Phud

    And people are surprised?

    And they STILL wave their Clubcards at tills

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Of course, that's why I pay with cash and wear a long coat, fake moustache and glasses when purchasing alcohol.

    2. Captain Hogwash

      Re: And they STILL wave their Clubcards at tills

      Sadly, some people are so poor that, even if they have some idea of the problems around data collection, they have no real option. I'm fortunate enough not to be in that particular boat right now, but I have enough understanding of surveillance capitalism and experience of poverty to feel a lot of sympathy.

      1. JohnFen

        Re: And they STILL wave their Clubcards at tills

        "even if they have some idea of the problems around data collection, they have no real option"

        This may differ in other parts of the US and in other countries, but where I live, there are plenty of stores that don't use affinity cards. I shop at those stores because I want to reward them for respecting their customers. The prices at those stores are similar to the prices you get when using affinity cards at other stores.

        So, at least in my area, there really are options.

    3. LucreLout

      And they STILL wave their Clubcards at tills

      Unless you pay cash, it mostly doesn't matter. They can assemble a ghost clubcard for you from your debit/credit card details.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's punishable under GDPR, proving it on the other hand is another matter.

          It's not that people don't care, the problem is that this is how people are conditioned to think and view their data, that's why the GDPR was created because most people don't understand how their own data is used against them. Lets take an example, I click like on facebook for Marmite (I don't have facebook but I do like Marmite) then every so often I will get adverts for Marmite, I may be out or I may not however this manipulation means that if I'm out I am now reminded to get Marmite next time I go shopping, think of it as Amazon dash on steroids. Even just typing this comment makes me think about Marmite though I only got a big jar the other day so all is good. Remember your Marmite next time you go shopping to avoid this manipulation.

          1. Richocet

            That's the scenario we often hear about.

            This is an equally valid scenario for for a betting business: A former customer of the business is suspected to have experienced gambling addiction when they became depressed in the past. An analysis of sentiment in this persons tweets and facebook posts shows that they are making many negative comments. So lets target them with advertisements to encourage them to gamble.

            The technology exists to do this.

            Is the business justified in the logic that the customer will probably begin heavy gambling soon and it might as well be with us rather than a competitor, so we should show these adverts?

      2. JohnFen

        This. There's no point in avoiding affinity cards if you pay with a credit or debit card. Indeed, the entire point of affinity cards is to allow stores to expand the customer surveillance they were already doing with people who pay by card to customers who pay with cash.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Unless you pay cash, it mostly doesn't matter. They can assemble a ghost clubcard for you from your debit/credit card details.

        Pretty sure the cardholder name is stored in the readable details on a card - it's the only explanation I can find for the self-serve register personally thanking me as I checked out at a store the other day. Quick search confirms it is in the Track 1 data. Now there's an extra abuse-able piece of metadata if ever I saw it. Totally unnecessary too.

  6. Mike Moyle

    "'We prohibit developers from inferring or deriving sensitive information like race or political affiliation, or attempts to match a user's Twitter information with other personal identifiers in unexpected ways,' (Twitter's senior director of product management Rob Johnson) wrote."

    Oh, they "prohibit" developers from inferring things.

    Well, that's alright, then. Nothing to see here!</eyeroll>

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "each tweet has more than 65 different metadata elements"

    Who thinks that is 65 too many ?

    It's a tweet, for fuck's sake. What can you possibly track ?

  8. Eddy Ito

    Twitter are also purging Tor users. So far I know of three who've been hit with "Account locked - suspected automated activity" and the three of us all used Tor to keep them away from our data. Of course, give them your phone number and they'll be happy to unlock it. I'll pass.

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