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Facebook is reoppening app reviews for developers starting today after pausing them in the wake of the news that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica improperly gained access to large amounts of user data.
Zuckerberg made the announcement onstage during Facebook’s annual F8 developers conference on May 1 in San Jose, California.
“I know it hasn’t been easy being a developer these past couple months, and that’s probably an understatement,” Zuckerberg said.
Facebook’s relationship with developers has gotten complicated since the British newspaper The Guardian reported in mid-March that Cambridge Analytica improperly utilized the personal data of more than 50 million Facebook users (that number was later estimated to be 87 million at most by Facebook).
A researcher named Aleksandr Kogan created a personality quiz, paying hundreds of thousands users to take the quiz. In exchange, users gave Kogan access to some personal data pulled from their Facebook profile, as well as the data of their Facebook friends. Unbeknownst to the quiz takers, Kogan then gave that data to Cambridge Analytica, violating Facebook’s developer policies. In 2015, Facebook sent a letter to Cambridge Analytica asking the firm to destroy the data it received from Kogan. Cambridge Analytica claims it did, though the New York Times reported that copies of the data could still be found online as of mid-March.
Users began to criticize Facebook over how it failed to stop Cambridge Analytica from gaining access to user data, with some saying it was time to delete Facebook. About a week after The Guardian published its story, the company announced that it would be conducting an audit of all third-party app developers that had access to Facebook’s developer program before it limited in 2014 the amount of data apps like Kogan’s could collect. This audit will continue throughout 2018, and Zuckerberg previously said that it will take “many months.”
The company also shut off access to the Events, Groups, and Pages APIs until developers underwent a formal review, and paused review of new apps. One developer told The Verge that his access to the calendar API was revoked without warning, and that his team “found out things were broken when users wrote in.”
Facebook resumed reviews for all Instant Games and Messenger Apps with “limited page connections” on April 17.
In a blog post, Facebook said it will now “require business verification for apps that need access to specialized APIs or extended Login permissions.”
Roughly 5,000 developers are attending this year’s F8 conference, according to Facebook.