Cambridge Analytica Row: Facebook suspends tens of thousands of apps
Facebook Inc said on Friday it has suspended tens of thousands of apps on the social networking platform, as part of the company’s ongoing app developer investigation it began in March 2018 in response to the Cambridge Analytica row.
The suspended apps are associated with about 400 developers, Facebook said, adding that it is not necessarily an indication that these apps were posing a threat to users.
Earlier this year, the company agreed to pay a record-breaking $5 billion fine to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to resolve a government probe into its privacy practices.
The FTC privacy probe was triggered last year by allegations that Facebook violated a 2012 consent decree and inappropriately shared information of 87 million users with British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook has since agreed to boost safeguards on user data and has put curbs on the amount of information that third-party developers can request from platform users.
“… We’re making progress. We won’t catch everything, and some of what we do catch will be with help from others outside Facebook,” the company said in a blogpost.
What do we know about the apps?
Facebook has released little specific information on the tens of thousands of apps or hundreds of developers in question.
The statement said that the suspension of the apps was not necessarily an indication that they posed a threat to people.
“Many were not live but were still in their testing phase when we suspended them,” Mr Archibong said.
In some cases developers were subjected to in-depth questioning after being flagged.
Some apps were banned completely for reasons including inappropriately sharing data obtained from Facebook or making data publicly available without protecting people’s identity.
One banned app called myPersonality was found to be sharing information with researchers and companies with only limited protections in place, and then refused to take part in an audit, according to Facebook.
The app review is ongoing.
About Cambridge Analytica WIKI
Cambridge Analytica Ltd (CA) was a British political consulting firm which combined data mining, data brokerage, and data analysis with strategic communication during the electoral processes. It was started in 2013 as an offshoot of the SCL Group. The company closed operations in 2018 in the course of the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal, although related firms still exist.
The company was partly owned by the family of Robert Mercer, an American hedge-fund manager who supports many politically conservative causes. The firm maintained offices in London, New York City, and Washington, DC.
CEO Alexander Nix has said CA was involved in 44 US political races in 2014. In 2015, CA performed data analysis services for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign. In 2016, CA worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as well as for Leave.
EU (one of the organisations campaigning in the United Kingdom’s referendum on European Union membership). CA’s role in those campaigns has been controversial and is the subject of ongoing criminal investigations in both countries. Political scientists question CA’s claims about the effectiveness of its methods of targeting voters.
In March 2018, multiple media outlets broke news of Cambridge Analytica’s business practices. The New York Times and The Observer reported that the company had acquired and used personal data about Facebook users from an external researcher who had told Facebook he was collecting it for academic purposes.
Shortly afterwards, Channel 4 News aired undercover investigative videos showing Nix boasting about using prostitutes, bribery sting operations, and honey traps to discredit politicians on whom it conducted opposition research, and saying that the company “ran all of (Donald Trump’s) digital campaign”. In response to the media reports, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of the UK pursued a warrant to search the company’s servers.
Facebook banned Cambridge Analytica from advertising on its platform, saying that it had been deceived. On 23 March 2018, the British High Court granted the ICO a warrant to search Cambridge Analytica’s London offices.
The personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users were acquired via the 270,000 Facebook users who used a Facebook app called “This Is Your Digital Life.”
By giving this third-party app permission to acquire their data, back in 2015, this also gave the app access to information on the user’s friends network; this resulted in the data of about 87 million users, the majority of whom had not explicitly given Cambridge Analytica permission to access their data, being collected.
The app developer breached Facebook’s terms of service by giving the data to Cambridge Analytica.
On 1 May 2018, Cambridge Analytica and its parent company filed for insolvency proceedings and closed operations. Alexander Tayler, a former director for Cambridge Analytica, was appointed director of Emerdata on 28 March 2018. Rebekah Mercer, Jennifer Mercer, Alexander Nix and Johnson Chun Shun Ko [zh] who has links to Erik Prince are in leadership positions at Emerdata.