- Facebook is reopening its review and approval process for apps that work on its Messenger and Instant Games platforms, according to a company blog post. The social network had suspended app approvals temporarily as it sought to contain its growing Cambridge Analytica crisis.
- Itai Leibowitz, a product manager at Facebook, said in the blog post that the company expects to get through a backlog of games that were submitted for review over the next several weeks. Messenger Apps that have limited connections to Facebook Pages, which are public profiles of businesses, brands, celebrities, causes and other organizations, are also open for review. The vetting team will first review submissions that were already in the queue before the pause, and then move on to reviewing newer submissions.
- Facebook is still refining the app review process for Messenger Platform third-party developers and other Facebook APIs as the company's management considers additional measures to protect user privacy.
Pausing app reviews was Facebook's way to publicly show that it's prioritizing user privacy by demonstrating due diligence around the very thing that sparked the Cambridge Analytica debacle. While it stopped the reviews, the company is also revamping its review process entirely to address how much user information app developers will have access to. A major question will be how Facebook's changes to privacy policies limit its power as a marketing platform.
It's unclear whether the company's new app vetting process and privacy policies will help restore the trust of users who feel their personal data was used in manipulative ways. An NPR/PBS News Hour and Marist Poll survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults found that 80% of consumers had very little or no confidence that Facebook safeguards their personal information.
This comes as Facebook is confronting one of the worst crises in its history after a whistleblower revealed how a political consulting firm had gained access to the personal data of 87 million people. After initially threatening to sue a newspaper for publishing an interview with a former Cambridge Analytica employee, Facebook last month apologized for mishandling user data and started a major overhaul of its privacy policies. Facebook is making its data-sharing capabilities more transparent to users as it faces numerous investigations, lawsuits and potential fines from government regulators.