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Facebook suspends 200 apps in privacy investigation

Heather Parry

By Heather Parry

15 May 2018

Social media giant Facebook has suspended at least 200 apps in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The company announced on Monday that it had launched an investigation into apps that have access to a large amount of information. This is what CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised back in March, and it seems that the company is sticking to that promise.

This comes after months of conversations around Facebook’s dedication to privacy, following allegations from whistleblower Christopher Wylie that the data of millions of Facebook users was collected and shared with politcal consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica—without the consent of the users.

Zuckerberg has been working hard to save the company’s reputation since then, and the promise of a privacy audit was a big part of this.

According to Facebook’s announcement:

…Facebook will investigate all the apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform policies in 2014 — significantly reducing the data apps could access. [Zuckerberg] also made clear that where we had concerns about individual apps we would audit them — and any app that either refused or failed an audit would be banned from Facebook.

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.

The privacy audit, while ongoing, is said to have made great headway:

We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible. 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.

Facebook is, in its own words, “investing heavily to make sure this investigation is as thorough and timely as possible”, although it can be assumed that its goals also include gaining back the trust of its users.

The investigation continues.

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