Facebook Suspends 200 Apps That May Have Misused Users’ Data

The platform’s internal audit has uncovered scores of programs that operated with broad access.

Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via ZUMA Press

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Facebook announced Monday that 200 apps have been suspended from its service as part of its review of how third parties use Facebook users’ personal information. The suspensions come as Facebook wades through thousands of programs designed for its platform in the wake of revelations that Cambridge Analytica improperly used apps to acquired Facebook user data.

“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,” Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships, wrote in a statement posted by the company. “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.”

While Facebook did not identify the banned apps, or how many users were affected by them, it has promoted a webpage to notify users who may have been impacted. The page was originally launched to communicate with users whose data was eventually passed on to Cambridge Analytica through a quiz called “This Is Your Digital Life.” The quiz, designed by Aleksandr Kogan, a Cambridge University researcher, encouraged Facebook users to enter data about how their digital presence corresponded to personality traits. Only 270,000 people entered their data into Kogan’s quiz but it was programmed in such a way that it was able to get data on 87 million Facebook users. The information was acquired by Cambridge Analytica to use for political targeting and messaging in a manner that Facebook says violated its terms of service.

Revelations about Cambridge’s actions on the platform embroiled Facebook in controversy, forcing company founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg to endure congressional hearings. Lawmakers in the UK have also are demanding he sit for hearings.

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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