According to the news report by Reuters, Facebook has suspended more than 200 apps because of suspected data misuse. This is the first stage of the social media giant’s review into apps that have had access to user data. This investigation was started in response to the scandal that was caused by the misuse of Facebook’s users’ data by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships, Ime Archibong stated that these apps had been suspended until such time as a thorough investigation was conducted to ascertain whether there had been any misuse of data. Archibong said that the company had a lot of work to do to find all the apps that may have misappropriated Facebook’s users’ data.
According to The Verge, it isn’t really clear whether any of these apps actually misused Facebook users’ data. Facebook says it has concerns about these apps and is therefore suspending them till such time as a full investigation is carried out.
The vice president also said that it was going to take time to thoroughly investigate all the apps that qualified, despite the fact that the company already large teams of external as well as internal experts working hard to investigate all the relevant apps as soon as possible. So while the company is doing something to correct its mistake, just the fact that 200 apps are being investigated shows the magnitude of the problem.
Quartz Media stated that according to Archibong, the investigation has two stages – the first one is to identify all the apps that had access to large quantities of user data prior to 2014. The next stage will be to do an in-depth investigation into each of these apps. This would involve conducting interviews with the developers of the apps and then requesting detailed information about the app and what the data was used for. Facebook said that it may also carry out audits of these apps, which may include on-site inspections of their premises.
If Facebook finds any apps that have misused user data, then those impacted will be notified via a special web page, which will let users know if either their data or their friends’ data was compromised because of a particular app.
The social media giant stated that it had already assessed thousands of apps as part of the investigation that the company’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg had mandated on March 21. Mark Zuckerberg himself said that the company would be investigating and assessing all apps that had been given access to large amounts of user data before Facebook controlled data access from 2014 onwards.
The entire investigation was initiated after Facebook was hit by a privacy related scandal in March this year. Media reports revealed that the political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica had used Facebook users’ data inappropriately. In fact the accusation against the political firm was that it had used that data to influence the 2016 US Presidential elections.
After this news broke, both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica faced massive backlash from all fronts. Facebook lost billions in market value and Zuckerberg had to apologize publically for his mistake as well as testify before the US Congress. Celebrities called for the boycotting of Facebook with the #deleteFacebook movement being launched. Cambridge Analytica filed for bankruptcy and has now shut shop completely.
Despite the backlash, Facebook gained back most of its market value after it reported its first quarter earnings on April 25. The social media company showed a massive 63% growth in profit as well as increase in its user base.
Facebook’s shares went up by 0.4% during pre-market trading early on Monday morning, however, settled down post that.