Nepal | May 29, 2020

Facebook suspends thousands of apps but user impact unclear

ASSOCIATED PRESSS
Share Now:

Facebook said Friday that it has suspended “tens of thousands” of apps made by about 400 developers as part of an investigation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The announcement came the same day that unsealed legal documents in Massachusetts disclosed that Facebook had suspended 69,000 apps. In the vast majority of cases, however, the suspensions came not after any kind of serious investigation but because app developers had failed to respond to emailed information requests.

Starting in March 2018, Facebook began looking into the apps that have access to its users’ data. The probe came after revelations that data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica used ill-gotten data from millions of Facebook users through an app, then used the data to try to influence US elections.

It led to a massive backlash against Facebook that included CEO Mark Zuckerberg being called to testify before Congress. The company is still trying to repair its reputation.

Facebook said Friday its app investigation is ongoing and it has looked at millions of apps so far.

The company said it has banned a few apps completely and has filed lawsuits against some, including in May against a South Korean data analytics company called Rankwave. In April, it sued LionMobi , based in Hong Kong, and JediMobi, based in Singapore, which the company says made apps that infected users’ phones with malware.

Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission for a record $5 billion this summer over privacy violations that stemmed from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The company said the FTC agreement “will bring its own set of requirements for bringing oversight to app developers. It requires developers to annually certify compliance with our policies” and that developers who don’t do this will be “held accountable.”

Also on Friday, a judge unsealed a subpoena by the Massachusetts attorney general demanding that the social network disclose the names of apps and developers that obtained data from its users without their consent. It also asked for all Facebook internal communications about those apps.

The state began investigating Facebook when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. But the company refused to identify any of the apps or developers, and the subpoena would have remained confidential under Massachusetts law had Facebook not insisted on keeping it and related exhibits secret.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s consumer protection division had sought data on apps from prior to 2014 when Facebook announced changes to the platform to restrict access to user data.

Facebook tried to redact the subpoena in negotiations before Friday’s ruling by state Judge Brian A Davis. But Healey’s office fought to limit the redacted sections.

Facebook did disclose that it had identified more than 10,000 apps that “show characteristics associated with higher risks of data misuse” but did not identify any of them.

The state attorney general noted that Facebook had allowed developers to integrate at least 9 million apps into the platform as of 2014 and had, for many years, allowed developers to access user data, including photos, work history, birthdates and “likes.” This applied not just from people who installed the apps but also to their Facebook friends who did not.

The unsealed subpoena also says that Facebook informed the Massachusetts attorney general’s office that it had identified about 2 million apps “as warranting a closer examination for potential misuses of Facebook user data.”

That suggests that, five years ago, more than one in four apps may have been accessing Facebook users’ data without their knowledge or consent.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Are we doing enough for the mental health of healthcare workers?

The number of coronavirus patients has been increasing over the past few days in Nepal. In the current scenario, it seems like the numbers would further increase in the coming days. Given that healthcare workers and frontline staff are the first responders to manage the ongoing pandemic with limited Read More...

Police recover two muzzle-loader guns in Kohalpur

NEPALGUNJ: Armed Police Force personnel recovered two abandoned muzzle-loader guns in Kohalpur Municipality-8 in Banke district, today. Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Shyam Kumar Karki said that they recovered the weapons along with ammunition, shrapnel shells, and other items under Sikta Read More...

Nepal Electricity Authority

1300 MW electricity to be added to the national grid

KATHMANDU: The government is all set to add 1,300-MW electricity to the national power grid of the country within the next fiscal year. A goal has been set to complete all the ongoing hydropower projects and expedite the under-construction projects in the country. The government is planning to Read More...

More European leagues set to return to action

BERN: European football will continue its cautious return to play following the COVID-19 stoppage over the next week as a number of the continent's smaller leagues restart with some novelties and one team in serious trouble for breaking coronavirus rules. Portugal, Denmark, Poland, Serbia, Aust Read More...

India open to engaging with Nepal on the basis of mutual sensitivity, respect: MEA India

KATHMANDU: The External Affairs Ministry of India has expressed that it is willing to hold talks with Nepal in regard to the existing boundary issue between the two countries. Speaking at a presser today, the Indian MEA's official spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said India is monitoring the situat Read More...

Miss Nepal Shrinkhala calls for action to help migrant workers stranded at Nepal-India border

Kathmandu, May 28 Miss Nepal World 2018 Shrinkhala Khatiwada is indeed a beauty with a purpose. She has lent her voice to the issues of migrants stranded on the Nepal-India border, showing her support for CNN Hero of the Year of 2015 Maggie Doyne and how we can help them. In a short video post Read More...

Italy's Serie A gets green light for June 20 restart

Sports minister Spadafora says top-flight soccer can resume Italian Cup matches could be staged before league restarts Serie A will be fourth of Europe's top five leagues to return Juventus hold one point lead over Lazio with 12 games left ROME: Italy's top-flight Serie A soccer le Read More...

English Premier League announces June 17 restart

League to resume season subject to safety requirements Starts with Villa v Sheffield Utd and Man City v Arsenal Full fixture list scheduled for weekend of June 19-21 All of the remaining 92 fixtures to be broadcast live MANCHESTER, ENGLAND: The Premier League season will restart Read More...