When you logged into Facebook today, did you notice that one of your favorite apps is missing in action? If so, it may not be one of your favorites anymore. Since recent user data leaks by third parties, Facebook is ramping up their security. And that means going through thousands of apps that utilize the "Login with Facebook" feature. Facebook has suspended 200 total apps pending a thorough investigation of whether or not these apps have misused user data.
What they’re investigating
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that on March 21, Facebook would begin analyzing apps for quality and whether or not these apps have misused user data. He also stated that Facebook would “investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform to dramatically reduce data access in 2014, and we will conduct a full audit of any app with suspicious activity."
Although only "some thousands" of apps have been analyzed, that number is expected to grow throughout the year as all of the Facebook apps are searched through. In less than two months, 200 apps have been found to be suspicious, so we can conclude there will be more. Mark Zuckerberg also said that if any app did not subject to a thorough investigation, that it would be suspended as well.
We are all aware of the Cambridge Analytica scandal that occurred in March, and also of Facebook user data being hacked by third parties. In the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it was admitted about 87 million Facebook users’ information was compromised.
How they’re investigating
Ime Archibong, Facebook’s Vice President of Product Partnerships, writes in a blog post on Facebook Newsroom website:
“We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible,” he says. “To date, thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended — pending a thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data. Where we find evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, we will ban them and notify people via this website. It will show people if they or their friends installed an app that misused data before 2015 — just as we did for Cambridge Analytica.”
“There is a lot more work to be done to find all the apps that may have misused people’s Facebook data – and it will take time. We are investing heavily to make sure this investigation is as thorough and timely as possible.”
When Facebook sees an app as suspicious, there is a process to be followed such as this that Archibong describes:
- Conduct interviews
- Make a request for information (such as what types of user data the app as access to: your birthday, name, etc.)
- Perform an audit (which may or may not contain an on-site inspection)
Archibong says, "The investigation process is in full swing, and it has two phases. First, a comprehensive review to identify every app that had access to this amount of Facebook data. And second, where we have concerns, we will conduct interviews, make requests for information (RFI) — which ask a series of detailed questions about the app and the data it has access to — and perform audits that may include on-site inspections."
TechCrunch asked Facebook if there would be any kind of update as to which apps have been suspended. Facebook was not clear if they will give the public a list of all apps it suspends, or if they will only notify the users that the app has affected. TechCrunch says that since there have been multiple user data issues with Facebook recently, there is a pretty good chance that a list will be published publicly for all to view.
So while you wait anxiously to see if your information has been misused by third parties or apps where you just had to find out which Disney princess you are, it may be a good idea to sit tight, only give out your Facebook profile information to websites that you trust and use your best judgment!
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