Facebook suspends hundreds of apps for misusing user data

A finger reaching to delete Facebook app from smartphone
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Facebook has suspended 200 apps following its on-going investigation into the misuse of data. "Thousands" of apps have been examined, pending what the social network describes as a "thorough investigation" into whether these apps misappropriated user information.

The move is part of an audit run by the company to examine how many third-party apps had extensive access to user information, and how many used that data inappropriately. This applies primarily to apps created before Facebook's data policies were changed in 2014. Mark Zuckerberg announced the internal investigation on 21 March, following the revelations about Cambridge Analytica and the site.

An update penned by Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, Ime Archibong, claims the audit is "in full swing", and consists of two stages:

"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 social network has not given a specific figure about how many apps have so far been investigated, referring only to "thousands" of apps. The update notes that if evidence is found for apps misusing user data, it will show users whether they or their friends installed those apps before 2015. The site did a similar thing for Cambridge Analytica.

There's no word on how long Facebook's investigation will take, with Archibong saying only that "a lot more work" is needed. Even those 200 suspended apps will need to be further investigated via interviews and RFI requests, and we can likely expect the figure to go up as more third-party apps are audited.

One question around all of this is whether Facebook will publicly publish a list of suspended apps. The blogpost notes that the site will "show people" if they or their friends installed the apps, and it looks like this will be done via the same section of its site used to check if information had been shared with Cambridge Analytica. Whether or not each of the apps will be named and shamed remains to be seen, however. We've contacted to Facebook for comment.

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