Aleksandr Kogan had one day access to Twitter users data in 2015
Twitter has confirmed to Bloomberg that it sold public data access to researcher Aleksandr Kogan. In 2015, Aleksandr Kogan’s firm Global Science Research (GSR) had paid for one day Twitter users data access. Twitter said they had selected a random sample of public tweets from the period between December 2014 and April 2015. They also conducted an internal review and did not find any access to private data of people who use Twitter. Since then the company has removed Cambridge Analytica and their affiliated entities as advertisers.
It is not certain exactly what Kogan and GSR have done with the info. The short access window and random nature suggest that this was more about studying a general sentiment of people in the given time frame rather than targeted campaign.
This doesn’t seem to be a major privacy issue as Tweets and Twitter profiles don’t share much information about you outside of what you wrote. Also, GSR doesn’t appear to be working outside the official boundaries which it did with Facebook.
A short brief on Aleksandr Kogan and Cambridge Analytica scandal
Aleksandr Kogan was the researcher who created a personality quiz on Facebook. The app collected millions of Facebook users private data without their consent. This data was later used by Cambridge Analytica for commercial gains. The nefarious practices of Cambridge Analytica and Aleksandr Kogan were later exposed by the whistleblower Christopher Wylie. Since the breakout of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had to appear before the US Congress to testify about the misuse of data. Lawmakers have also called on Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify as well.
Twitter has faced criticisms on many fronts. It has not been as successful as we would have liked when it comes to prevention of misinformation and abuse of its platform. Fake news menace is one of the major issues that Twitter faces. Recently, Twitter explained how it is fighting fake news menace.