Facebook Stressed That The Company Is Not Sharing Users’ Data With Partners Such As Researchers or Academics

The social media giant, Facebook on Wednesday, stated that the company is not collecting or sharing the personal data of its users or their location data with Facebook’s partners such as researchers, humanitarian experts, or academics to tackle the worldwide crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Laura McGorman in a blog post explained that Facebook has developed a differential privacy and security framework. This privacy framework secures the privacy of people in aggregated sets of data by making sure that no one is able to identify particular individuals in these sets of data.

Facebook rolled out ‘Data for Good’ back in the year 2017. The goal behind launching ‘Data for Good’ was to empower partners with data to help make further progress on significant social issues.

Public health officials have been using the data provided by Facebook during the last few months to inform decisions about the coronavirus across regions including Asia, North America, and Europe. The company explained in a statement that Data for Good only aggregates data collected by Facebook from its family of apps and then it shares the collected data in a de-identified way. The data helps researchers and academics to resolve major social issues.

The new framework developed by Facebook makes new datasets available for public use to help inform the public sector response to philanthropic situations such as the coronavirus outbreak. The company also explained that Facebook only provides access to aggregate information to research partners who are enrolled in the ‘Data for Good’ program. Some datasets formatted to prevent re-identification of any individual are being released for public use.

For instance, Facebook uses techniques such as spatial smoothing to produce aggregated location data to protect users’ privacy. You can also choose to share your location information if you want to in the Location History setting or whether you want to participate in surveys or not.

Facebook explained that the company does not collect any extra information for the ‘Data for Good’ program such as for advertisers. During April, Mark Zuckerberg stated that if Facebook uses information in a responsible way, the company could help people respond to the current situation and it may help us get started on our way to recovery from the virus. He also stated that this type of data can help the world in many ways but it is important to protect the privacy of people.

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