Facebook Suspends 200 Apps Over Mishandled User Data


Data such as phone numbers, private messages, and religious views, taken from as many as 87 million Facebook users and more than 311,000 in Australia, was allegedly used to influence voters in the 2016 USA election.

Grabbing the login details from GitHub granted access to the sensitive data "in less than a minute" and has, in fact, been publicly visible on the website for the past four years.

"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", Mr Archibong said. New Scientist reports that some 280 people at different technology companies were given access and, somewhere along the way, that data ended up on a website that was very insecure.

Experts are anxious that the researchers didn't do enough to anonymize the data, as well.

If Facebook discovers an app has misused data, it will instantly "ban" the app, and then post information on this page to let users know if the banned apps had access to their data. Each Facebook user was given a unique ID that pulled together data including their age, gender, location, status updates, results on the personality quiz and more.

Undeterred, Facebook answered a different question, saying that as of 2014, it had reviewed all apps seeking access to anything beyond basic data fields and rejected about half of those - some 299,000 apps in total.

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With all that, deanonymizing the data would be a snap, Dixon said.

We would like the session here to take place by 24 May... However, this is yet another reminder that when you agree to sharing your data with one app, it is going to be mass circulated, ending up online. The app is now under investigation for potentially having violated the platform's policies due to the language used in the app and on its website to describe its data-sharing practices.

In the wake of Cambridge Analytica scandal wherein 87 million Facebook users' data were collected without their explicit consent, the social media giant has now suspended 200 apps on its platform over uncertainties of misusing user data as part of the first phase of an investigation into third-party apps.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is investigating myPersonality.

The University of Cambridge has chastised the application when New Scientist made a point of enlightening the academic body, with the Information Commissioner's Office stating that the data harvesting practices "did not go through our ethical approval process".

Over 280 people from almost 150 institutions eventually gained access to the full data set by registering as a collaborator to the project.