Facebook & Twitter take action against a babysitter app

November 27, 2018

An app that claims to vet babysitters is being investigated by Facebook, and has been blocked altogether by Twitter.

Predictim, based in California, offers a service that scours a prospective babysitter’s social media activity in order to provide a score out of five to suggest how safe they may or may not be.

It looks for posts about drugs, violence of other undesirable content. Critics say algorithms should not be trusted to give advice on someone’s employability.

Earlier this month, after discovering the activity, Facebook revoked most of Predictim’s access to users, deeming the firm to be in violation of its policies on use of personal data.

Facebook is now investigating whether to block the firm entirely from its platform after Predictim said it was still scraping public Facebook data in order to power its algorithms.

“Everyone looks people up on social media, they look people up on Google,” said Predictim’s chief executive and co-founder, Sal Parsa, “We’re just automating this process.”

Facebook did not see it that way.

“Scraping people’s information on Facebook is against our terms of service,” a spokeswoman said.

“We will be investigating Predictim for violations of our terms, including to see if they are engaging in scraping.”

Meanwhile, Twitter told the BBC it had “recently” decided to block Predictim’s access to its users.

“We strictly prohibit the use of Twitter data and APIs for surveillance purposes, including performing background checks,” a spokeswoman said via email. “When we became aware of Predictim’s services, we conducted an investigation and revoked their access to Twitter’s public APIs.”

An API – application programming interface – is used to allow different software to interact. In this case, Predictim would make use of Twitter’s API in order to quickly analyse a user’s tweets.

BBC