Facebook announced it had suspended tens of thousands of apps for privacy issues. The reasons are mainly improper sucking up users’ personal information and other transgressions, a tacit admission that the scale of the data privacy issues at Facebook was far larger than it had previously acknowledged.
“We promised then that we would review all of the apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform policies in 2014. It has involved hundreds of people: attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists, platform partners and other teams across the company. Our review helps us to better understand patterns of abuse in order to root out bad actors among developers.”
The investigation is part of a broader effort the company embarked on last year in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal. The scandal involved a political consulting firm purchasing data on tens of millions of Facebook users that had been collected, packaged, and sold by the maker of a quiz mobile app.
The extent of how many apps Facebook had cut off was revealed in court filings that were unsealed later by a state court in Boston, as part of an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general into the technology company.
The documents showed that Facebook had suspended 69,000 apps. Of those, the majority were terminated because the developers did not cooperate with Facebook’s investigation; 10,000 were flagged for potentially misappropriating personal data from Facebook users.
Facebook has released little specific information on the tens of thousands of apps or hundreds of developers in question.
The statement said that the suspension of the apps was not necessarily an indication that they posed a threat to people.
In some cases developers were subjected to in-depth questioning after being flagged.
Some apps were banned completely for reasons including inappropriately sharing data obtained from Facebook or making data publicly available without protecting people’s identity.
One banned app called myPersonality was found to be sharing information with researchers and companies with only limited protections in place, and then refused to take part in an audit, according to Facebook.