Facebook has published an update on its investigation into “apps that had access to large amounts” of data that it announced back in March in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and after investigating thousands of apps, the company has announced that “around 200” apps have been suspended.
It’s not clear that any of those apps have actually abused their access to Facebook user data, but Facebook has some concerns and is suspending them from working “pending a thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data.” That investigation will involve Facebook conducting interviews with developers, requesting information about app and the data it has access to, along with audits “that may include on-site inspections.”
In the event that Facebook does discover that more apps have abused access to this kind of user data, it will ban them immediately, and notify users through this page, which much like Cambridge Analytica will inform them if either they or their friends allowed for their data to be compromised through the app.
As announced before, Facebook is focusing on apps from 2014 and earlier, when Facebook allowed apps to pull information not only from the immediate user, but from their friends as well, even if they hadn’t used the app themselves.
It’s good to see that Facebook is taking action here, but these early results help illustrate how big the problem actually was with the platform. Cambridge Analytica having access to millions of user’s data was bad enough, but that there might be 200 other potential companies that had similar access — even if it ends up that all 200 are totally benign — for years isn’t an encouraging sign.