The company hasn’t disclosed what the apps were doing
Facebook today announced that it has suspended “tens of thousands” of apps as part of an ongoing investigation into improper data use on the part of third-party developers. The investigation is part of a broader effort the company embarked on last year in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, which involved a political consulting firm purchasing data on tens of millions of Facebook users that had been collected, packaged, and sold by the maker of a quiz mobile app.
The tech giant has been slow to reveal the scope of its ongoing investigation. In May 2018, the company said 200 apps had been suspended; in August 2018, that number jumped to 400. Now, roughly 12 months later, the company is admitting that it investigated millions of apps and has suspended “tens of thousands.”
Facebook says the huge volume of apps are sourced to a small number of developers, just 400 or so. It is unclear how the developers in question could be responsible for so many offending apps and go largely unnoticed until Facebook felt compelled to investigate its platform. If Facebook removed just 10,001 apps from 400 developers, that would mean each developer, on average, had created 25 apps that break Facebook’s rules. (Facebook says some of the apps it suspended were still in testing.)
In a blog post today authored by Facebook vice president of partnerships Ime Archibong, he said Facebook has banned some apps completely. “That can happen for any number of reasons including inappropriately sharing data obtained from us, making data publicly available without protecting people’s identity or something else that was in clear violation of our policies,” Archibong writes.