Anxious to show that it acts after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook said Monday it has suspended “about 200” applications on its platform as part of a survey on the collection of personal data of its users.
“The investigation process is in full swing,” Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships at Facebook, said in a statement.
“We have strong internal and external teams of experts working hard to review these applications as quickly as possible. So far, thousands of applications have been analyzed and about 200 have been suspended – pending a full investigation to determine if they actually misappropriated data, “said Archibong.
The investigation was launched after the resounding Cambridge Analytica scandal. This British firm is accused of having collected and exploited without their consent the personal data of some 87 million Facebook users for political purposes via a psychological test application, called “thisisyourdigitallife”, offered on the social network like many other external applications to which one connects via his Facebook account.
Until 2015, third-party applications accessed a large amount of data before Facebook limited what they had access to.
This information would have been used to develop software to predict and influence voter voting to influence the 2016 US presidential campaign, won by Republican Donald Trump. What Cambridge Analytica denies that scuttled itself at the beginning of May, destroyed by the scandal.
“Wherever we find evidence that these and other applications have misappropriated data, we will ban them and warn users of the website,” said Archibong.
Since the scandal, the group has set up a bonus program for Internet users who point out applications that may have misappropriated data.
The revelations on Cambridge Analytica triggered investigations on both sides of the Atlantic. Widely implicated and accused of lightness in the protection of personal data, the boss of the social network Mark Zuckerberg has apologized several times, including before the US Congress in April.
“There is still a lot of work to do to discover all the applications that could get their hands on Facebook user data – and it will take time,” Archibong said on Monday.
He also stated in a written statement to AFP that among the 200 applications suspended, included in particular another application of psychological tests, called myPersonality.
According to the British magazine New Scientist on Monday, the personal (but anonymous) data of millions of respondents to myPersonality were shared with “hundreds of researchers” via an insufficiently secure site, with passwords easily found on the net, leaving “vulnerable” data for four years.