Facebook cuts off 'hundreds of thousands' of inactive apps that missed review deadline
- Facebook is cutting off access to user data for "hundreds of thousands" of inactive apps that developers didn't submit by August 1 for a new review process announced after the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal earlier this year. The company urged developers to submit apps that are still being used for review to ensure they comply with Facebook's policies on gathering personal data from users, according to a company blog post.
- Facebook also will start lining up apps for review and contact developers when it needs more information to process an approval. Developers that don't respond within Facebook's deadline will see their apps cut from the social network's API. Developers won't lose API access while their apps are being reviewed as long as they comply with Facebook's policies.
- In addition, the company announced Tuesday that it removed 32 pages and accounts from Facebook and Instagram for engaging in "coordinated inauthentic behavior" that sought to influence U.S. politics. Facebook is still investigating who is behind the bad actor accounts.
Facebook's suspension of inactive apps and suspicious accounts is the latest step in the social network's efforts to respond to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which erupted in March after a whistleblower revealed that the U.K. political advertising firm had inappropriately mined the personal information of millions of people.
By publicizing the shutdown of suspicious accounts, Facebook is aiming to avoid the type of scrutiny it's faced in recent months. But the suspension led some political activists to accuse Facebook of suppressing free speech by harming their ability to organize events on the platform. The incident serves as a reminder to marketers and content creators that they need to follow Facebook's policies or end up as collateral damage in the social network's war against disinformation. In July, Walmart and P&G saw certain ads pulled under Facebook's new political labeling policy.
This comes after the Cambridge Analytica scandal helped to reveal how much personal data the social network collects about people, including those who have never signed up for a Facebook account. The revelations were damaging to Facebook's reputation, with 80% of consumers saying they had very little or no confidence that the social network safeguards their personal information, per a NPR/PBS News Hour and Marist Poll survey.
The social network responded to the growing scandal apologizing for mishandling user data and suspending the approval process for apps on the platform. CEO Mark Zuckerberg on May 1 announced the re-opening of Facebook's app review during the company's annual F8 developer conference. The new review process required business verification for apps that needed access to specialized APIs or extended login permissions. Apps that asked for basic information from a user's public profile, including name, email and profile photo, weren't subject to business verification, per a blog post. Developers had to wait three days to two months for app approval.