Facebook is scrutinizing a Boston-based analytics firm over its contracts with government agencies, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Apps from the firm, Crimson Hexagon, have been suspended from Facebook and Instagram while Facebook investigates whether the firm may have violated any of its developer policies. Crimson Hexagon pulls public user data from social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram in order to get aggregate insights into consumer behavior. The company advertises Walmart, ABInBev, and Adidas as customers on its website, but it also has contracts with multiple U.S. government agencies, including the U.S. State Department and the Department of Homeland Security, as well as a Russian nonprofit that used Crimson Hexagon to research Russian people’s opinions of President Vladimir Putin’s government.
Crimson Hexagon’s suspension appears to have been triggered by Facebook discovering the existence of these government contracts — the Journal said it sent questions earlier this week to Facebook about its oversight of Crimson Hexagon’s partnership with government agencies. Facebook responded that it wasn’t aware of Crimson Hexagon’s contracts with government agencies, and by Friday, Crimson Hexagon was suspended.
A Facebook spokesperson told VentureBeat that based on its initial findings, Crimson Hexagon did not access any data from Facebook or Instagram inappropriately, but that the company is meeting with Crimson Hexagon in the coming days to continue the investigation. Facebook’s developer policy states that data obtained from Facebook can’t be used in…