Facebook has suspended a Boston-based analytics firm from both Facebook and Instagram as it investigates the company's data collection practices, the Wall Street Journal reports. Facebook said that so far, it hasn't found any evidence that the company has improperly obtained any Facebook or Instagram information, but it would be looking into whether Crimson Hexagon violated any of its policies on how to collect, share and store user data. "We don't allow developers to build surveillance tools using information from Facebook or Instagram," Facebook told Engadget. "We take these allegations seriously, and we have suspended these apps while we investigate."
This move comes as Facebook continues to deal with privacy concerns stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
On its website, Crimson Hexagon boasts that it can provide "instant access to over one trillion consumer conversations from social media, forums, blogs, reviews and more." Along with brands like Samsung, Twitter, Adidas and GM, the Wall Street Journal reports that Crimson Hexagon has held contracts with both US government agencies and a Russian nonprofit group with connections to the Kremlin. The publication asked Facebook about what oversight it had over the company's storage of user data and its government contracts. Facebook told the Wall Street Journal that it wasn't aware of some of Crimson Hexagon's contracts but said today that it would suspend its apps while it investigates further.
"We are investigating the claims about Crimson Hexagon to see if they violated any of our policies," Ime Archibong, Facebook's VP of product partnerships, said in a statement. "People can share their information with developers on Facebook and Instagram -- just as they can when they download an app on their phone. We also have APIs so that developers can use public or aggregated information to produce anonymized insights for business purposes." He added, "Facebook has a responsibility to help protect people's information which is one of the reasons why we have tightened our APIs significantly over the last few years."
The social media giant said Crimson Hexagon is cooperating with its investigation and that it plans to meet with the company's staff in the coming days.