Facebook’s attempt to clean up its platform has revealed its developer problems are about much more than just Cambridge Analytica.
The company has suspended “tens of thousands” of apps from its platform as the result of its investigation into developers that kicked off following the Cambridge Analytica revelations. It’s not clear what rules the developers broke, or if they mishandled any Facebook users’ personal data.
Facebook’s VP of Product Partnerships, Ime Archibong, said in the update that most of the apps in question came from “about 400 developers,” but that the thousands of suspensions were “not necessarily an indication that these apps were posing a threat to people.”
Facebook offered no specifics on the developers it suspended or what personal data they may have mishandled
Archibong provided few details about which of Facebook’s policies the developers had violated. He noted that in a “few cases,” apps had been outright banned from Facebook’s platform for sharing personal data, but did not elaborate. He did call out two cases the company had already publicized: a personality quiz app (Facebook has since banned personality quizzes), and two Hong Kong-based developers who Facebook has said injected malware into users’ phones.
But aside from a few previously publicized cases, Facebook offered no specifics on the developers it has suspended or what, if any, personal data they may have mishandled. “Tens of thousands have been suspended for a variety of reasons while we continue to investigate,” Archibong said in the statement.
That Facebook has acted against thousands of apps suggests there were far more developers breaking Facebook’s rules than the company had previously disclosed. Though the company tightened its rules for developers in 2014, critics have said the company didn’t do enough to police its own platform.
The latest update comes 18 months after Facebook first said it would conduct a thorough investigation into all of the apps and developers who had access to personal data, as a direct result of the Cambridge Analytica disclosures. The data firm was able to access personal data on millions of Facebook users via a personality quiz app. The incident also lead to a record-breaking FTC fine against the social network.