Tens of thousands of suspicious Facebook apps suspended in privacy investigation

Chris Burns - Sep 20, 2019, 1:03pm CDT
Tens of thousands of suspicious Facebook apps suspended in privacy investigation

Facebook released a statement this morning about a privacy investigation of Facebook app developers. This is what Facebook calls their “ongoing App Developer Investigation” in which they’ve begun taking a closer look at apps with access to “large amounts of information.” This is part of the overarching privacy disaster going on at Facebook since March of 2018. Today Facebook said this investigation is “part of our response to the episode involving Cambridge Analytica.”

Facebook suggested today that their investigation “has addressed millions of apps.” They went on to say that “of those, tens of thousands have been suspended for a variety of reasons while we continue to investigate.”

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The first wave of this investigation focused on apps within Facebook identified “based on how many users they had and how much data they could access.” So they started at the most-used apps and worked their way down. More recently, Facebook suggested today, they also “identify apps based on signals associated with an app’s potential to abuse our policies.”

The apps Facebook is investigating are those that exist within the Facebook platform. This is not the same as 3rd-party apps that attempt to access Facebook information or login from outside the platform. This does not cover, for example, the ways in which Facebook uses data in apps with Facebook login (outside the official Facebook apps like Facebook proper, Messenger, Instagram, etcetera).

Facebook pointed out a number of villains in this saga that they’ve banned and/or sued as result of their investigations over the last year. They banned an app called “myPersonality”, for example, and a “South Korean data analytics company” called Rankwave. They’ve filed action against “two Ukranian men” Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachov, for quiz app data scraping, and companies LionMobi and JediMobi for their malware and profit-generating scheme antics.

And yes, it is notable that the statement included the country of origin for the groups/people that were not based in the United States.

In the entirety of the release today, Facebook’s Ime Archibong, VP of Product Partnerships, used the word “privacy” just once. “People need to know we’re protecting their privacy,” said Archibong. “And across the board, we’re making progress.”

At this time it does not appear that this release from Facebook indicated that any Facebook users should be concerned about their safety. Any more concerned about their safety than usual, that is to say.

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