Why Facebook Is Kicking Out Developers Connected to Surveillance
Facebook getting tough on spies
Facebook (FB) says it has no place for developers who collaborate with law enforcement agencies to illegally spy on its users. In a recent policy update, the company said developers aren’t allowed to collect data from its social network to be used for police surveillance.
Facebook has kicked off several developers from its platform for obtaining and sharing data with law enforcement for purposes of spying on its subscribers. Last year, it removed Geofeedia, a high profile case of a Facebook developer being purged. Facebook is working to guarantee privacy to its growing community of users.
Geofeedia was implicated in an investigation that revealed that the startup was doing the dirty work for police by providing tools to track protesters and activists on social networks. Twitter (TWTR) also severed ties with the controversial startup.
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Spying hurts Facebook’s business
From a business perspective, police spying can cause people to be less active on Facebook. That could make it difficult for the company to drive the kind of user engagement that can draw more advertisers to the platform. Facebook is betting on user engagement to drive the next phase of its growth as it runs out of space for ads in users’ news feeds. The above graph shows how Facebook’s annual revenue has trended in the past few years.
War against fake news
Kicking out developers that promote illegal surveillance of social media users is only one part of Facebook’s platform cleanup plan. The company is also stepping up its fight against fake news and inappropriate content. It’s betting on these types of efforts to help it attract and retain advertisers. In turn, that will help it fend off competition from companies such as Twitter, Snap (SNAP), Alphabet’s (GOOGL) Google, and Yelp (YELP).