According to an exclusive report by The Telegraph, Twitter also sold data access to Cambridge Analytica, who has recently been found to have harvested millions of Facebook users’ information without their knowledge and later passed it to a political consulting firm.
It appears that Aleksandr Kogan, who created a personality quiz on Facebook to harvest information established his own commercial enterprise named Global Science Research (GSR). According to Twitter, GSR was granted access to large-scale public Twitter data, covering months of posts for one day in 2015.
A Twitter spokesperson provided the following statement:
“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. Cambridge Analytica may remain an organic user on our platform, in accordance with the Twitter Rules.”
Twitter does in routine provide certain companies, developers and users with access to public data through its APIs. The company also sells the data to organizations, which often use them to analyze events, sentiment or customer service.
Cambridge Analytica however tweeted out this morning that the data obtained by GSR from Twitter was never purchased or used:
Cambridge Analytica has never received Twitter data from GSR or
Aleksandr Kogan, and has never done any work with GSR on Twitter data. GSR was only ever a contractor to Cambridge Analytica and we understand it did work for many other companies.
— Cambridge Analytica (@CamAnalytica)
Although Twitter does not sell private direct messaging data, the company’s “data licensing and other revenue” grew about 20% to $90 million in the first quarter.