One of the advertisement partners of Facebook has been collecting user data for years, according to reports. The company is named Hyp3r and is one of the marketing partners of the social media giant. Instagram was quick to declare that Hyp3r was in violation of its policy regarding privacy and data usage and was removed from its platform.
Hyp3r operated mainly by targeting attendees of sporting events, concerts or music festivals, gathering their data about types of places visited, photos shared and preferences. All the data gathered over a period of time was used to build individual profiles of users. It is somewhat similar to the operating model of the infamous political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica that ran targeted and customized advertisements to sway public opinion and influence voting patterns, thereby affecting the outcome of the 2016 US Presidential Elections.
After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Instagram and Facebook introduced newer policies to regulate data usage, but Hyp3r managed to overcome those thanks to exploiting certain loopholes. But Hyp3r has reportedly accessed only the public information of users, and mainly the location data. However, it has countered by saying that it was in compliance with Facebook’s policies and only accessed data that users had opted to be accessed.
This raises serious questions about how a large social media corporation such as Facebook formulates, implements and enforces policies regarding data privacy.