FB suspends 400 apps over data concerns

London, Aug 23 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 8/23/2018 12:20:26 PM IST

Facebook has suspended more than 400 apps for harvesting users’ personal information including the myPersonality app that was exposed in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Mail Online reported.

The social network said in an announcement on Wednesday that it was informing four million users that their information has been taken and shared by the myPersonality app alone. 

It did not say how many more users had been affect by the other 399 apps it has suspended.   

Apps were suspended ‘due to concerns around the developers who built them or how the information people chose to share with the app may have been used,’ a company official said.

Launched in March by Facebook, the app unit stemmed from the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal.

Facebook admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked by Cambridge Analytica, which was working for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The myPersonality app was banned by the social network for not agreeing to an audit and ‘because it’s clear that they shared information with researchers as well as companies with only limited protections in place.’ The quiz, called myPersonality, collected highly sensitive data - including psychometric test results that reveal how neurotic or extrovert an individual may be.

Run by the University of Cambridge, the myPersonality site was founded in 2007 and allowed users to take real psychometric tests and obtain their results instantly. Facebook said it planned to notify the approximately four million members of the social network who shared information with myPersonality, which was active mostly prior to 2012. 

Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships at Facebook, said in a blog post said the app was banned for ‘failing to agree to our request to audit and because it’s clear that they shared information with researchers as well as companies with only limited protections in place. 

‘As a result we will notify the roughly four million people who chose to share their Facebook information with myPersonality that it may have been misused. 

‘Given we currently have no evidence that myPersonality accessed any friends’ information, we will not be notifying these people’s Facebook friends. Should that change, we will notify them’, he said.   

Investigators found the information was poorly protected for four years and gaining access to it was relatively easy. MyPersonality was one of the 200 apps that were suspended from the social network back in May.

Writing in a blog post updating on the investigation at the time, Mr Archibong said: ‘We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible.

‘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.

‘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,’ he said.


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