Calling all digital detectives!
Desperate to clean up its act, Facebook is offering big bounties to anyone who can spot data abusers, like Cambridge Analytics and its partner in crime, psychology professor Aleksandr Kogan.
Targeting abuses by app developers, the new Data Abuse Bounty Program was inspired by Facebook’s existing bug bounty program, which has long been used to uncover and address security issues.
Facebook is looking for people with first-hand knowledge and proof of cases where a platform app has collected and transferred users’ data to another party to be sold, stolen or used for scams or political influence.
That, of course, was the case with Kogan. He sold the user data he collected to Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL) and its political data analytics firm, Cambridge Analytica.
What sort of rewards is Facebook offering?
Well, while it says there is no maximum, high impact bug reports have garnered as much as $40,000 in the past. That's a drop in the bucket for Facebook, which has repeatedly said it expects additional security measures to “significantly” impact revenue.
But while bounties have become standard industry practice, they risk giving onlookers the impression that companies can’t police their own platforms.
That could make for some awkward conversation when Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday. And it raises the question of whether government regulations would be viable for Facebook.
Facebook’s CEO recently said&nbs p;he is not necessarily opposed them. It has been suggested that regulations could have the unintended consequence of stifling Facebook’s smaller competitors -- thus securing the tech titan’s market dominance for years to come.