The highly publicized Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data leak has now caused Facebook to investigate various apps on its platform. As a result of this probe, Facebook announced on Monday morning that it had suspended roughly 200 apps.
The company said that all apps on the social media networking platform would undergo a “thorough investigation” into whether they had misused user data. Facebook declined to provide more detail on which apps they suspended, how many people had used them, or what red flags had led them to suspect those apps of misuse.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the company would examine tens of thousands of apps that could have accessed or collected vast amounts of users’ personal information before the site’s more restrictive data rules for third-party developers took effect in 2015. The company also said that teams of internal and external experts would conduct interviews and lead on-site inspections of specific apps during its ongoing audit. Thousands of apps have been investigated so far, the company said, adding that any app that refuses to cooperate or failed the audit would be banned from the site.
One of the 200 apps, the personality quiz called myPersonality, was suspended in early April and is under investigation, Facebook officials said. Researchers at the University of Cambridge had set up the app to collect personal information about Facebook users and inform academic research. However, its data may not have been adequately secured, as first reported by New Scientist, which found login credentials for the app’s database available online. Another quiz app, developed by Kogan and tapped by Cambridge Analytica, was able to pull detailed data on 87 million people, including from the app’s direct users and their friends, who had not overtly consented to the app’s use.
“This is clearly a breach of the terms that academics agree to when requesting a collaboration with myPersonality,” the University of Cambridge said in a statement Monday. “Once we learned of this, we took immediate steps to stop access to the account and to stop further data sharing.”
The researchers added that academics who used the tool had to verify their identities and the nature of their research and agree to terms of service that prohibited them from sharing Facebook data “outside of their research group.”
This suspension comes just before the hearing on Capitol Hill focused on Cambridge Analytica and data privacy on Wednesday. As with most of its announcements in the past scandal-ridden months, Facebook says there is “a lot more work to be done.”