Facebook revealed that it has suspended around 200 apps as part of an ongoing audit to weed out third-party apps that may have misused Facebook users’ data.
CEO and cofounder Mark Zuckerberg announced on March 21 that the company would be taking new measures to allay fears of any additional historical privacy violations in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Indeed, he said that all apps that were given access to data before Facebook changed its policy in 2015, as well as those that demonstrate “suspicious behavior,” would be audited.
Facebook now says that since the audit began nearly two months ago it has investigated “thousands of apps,” of which “around 200” have been suspended. The company didn’t reveal which apps it had kicked off the platform.
“The investigation process is in full swing, and it has two phases,” noted Ime Archibong, VP of product partnerships at Facebook, in a blog post. “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.”
Facebook had also blocked new apps from joining the platform after the Cambridge Analytica data scandal came to light, but the company reopened its app review process earlier this month at its annual F8 developers conference.
How to check
Facebook had previously set up a website that automatically tells you (once you log in) whether Cambridge Analytic may have accessed your data or that of your friends. The company will apparently update that same site if its audits reveal any other apps have accessed your information.
“Where we find evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, we will ban them and notify people via this website,” Archibong added. “It will show people if they or their friends installed an app that misused data before 2015 — just as we did for Cambridge Analytica.”
If you and your friends have been historically careful not to connect your Facebook accounts to third-party apps, the message you’ll see will look something like this:
However, if you — or at least one of your friends — gave a third-party developer access to your Facebook account prior to 2015, and Facebook has flagged that developer as suspicious, the message will tell you which elements of your data were likely shared, such as public profile, date of birth, Page likes, and so on.
In terms of what you can do with that information, well, not a great deal, as the damage is already done. But at least you’ll know.