Facebook Suspends Boston Analytics Firm Crimson Hexagon To Investigate Its Use Of Data

The Facebook logo in 2012 is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke, AP file photo)
The Facebook logo in 2012 is displayed on an iPad in Philadelphia. (Matt Rourke, AP file photo)

Facebook said Friday that it has suspended Boston-based analytics firm Crimson Hexagon while it investigates how it collects and shares Facebook and Instagram's user data.

Facebook has been facing increased scrutiny over how third-party firms use its data since news broke in March that London-based data firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed user data.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Facebook had suspended Crimson Hexagon. The newspaper says among the firm's clients is a Russian nonprofit with ties to the Kremlin.

"We don't allow developers to build surveillance tools using information from Facebook or Instagram," said Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships. "We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate."

Facebook said Friday that Crimson Hexagon is cooperating and that so far its investigation hasn't found evidence that the firm obtained Facebook or Instagram information inappropriately.

In a blog post released Friday, Crimson Hexagon's chief technology officer, Chris Bingham, wrote that the analytics firm "only collects publicly available social media data that anyone can access," and "does not collect private social media data."

Bingham contrasted that with Cambridge Analytica's use of private user data. He wrote that users of Crimson Hexagon's platform, which include government customers, analyze the data to understand large-scale consumer trends and preferences.

"Government entities that leverage the Crimson Hexagon platform do so for the same reasons as many of our other non-government customers: a broad-based and aggregate understanding of the public's perception, preferences and sentiment about matters of concern to them," he wrote.

In a separate emailed statement, Bingham also said the company was "fully cooperating" with Facebook and that the social media giant has "to date has found no wrongdoing."

Crimson Hexagon says on its website it has access to over one trillion consumer conversations from social media, forums, blogs and reviews.

With additional reporting from the WBUR Newsroom

This article was originally published on July 20, 2018.



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