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Facebook suspends tens of thousands of apps

September 21, 2019

Facebook says it has reviewed millions of apps and suspended tens of thousands out of privacy concerns. The ongoing probe was launched in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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Image: Getty Images/C. Court

Facebook said Friday it has suspended "tens of thousands" of apps as part of an investigation following the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal.

The apps were made by around 400 developers and have been suspended for a number of reasons, including many cases of developers failing to respond to emailed information requests, the social media giant said.

The investigation has so far addressed millions of apps and is "by no means finished," Facebook said, adding that a suspension didn't necessarily mean the apps threatened people's privacy. 

"In a few cases, we have banned 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," Facebook said.  

In March 2018, Facebook began reviewing apps that have access to its users' data. The probe was launched after it emerged that the Cambridge Analytica data marketing firm had been illegally accessing millions of users' data to try to influence the US elections.

The scandal put Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg under renewed scrutiny over privacy and led to a $5 billion (€4.5 billion) settlement with the Federal Trade Commission this summer.  

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." Developers who don't do this will be "held accountable."

Separately on Friday, a judge in Massachusetts unsealed a subpoena by the state attorney general demanding Facebook name the apps and developers that made use of users' ill-gotten personal data. The company has sought to keep the information sealed.

cw/sms (AFP, AP, dpa)Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.