Technology

Cambridge Analytica Scandal: Facebook Clips Wings Of Third-party Apps

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica scandal third-party apps
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Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook is now restricting all third-party apps that access user data. Having massive user data is turning out to be both a boon and a curse for the social networking giant.

Third-party apps not only have access to your Facebook data, but also of your friends and family irrespective of them using the same app or not. The Cambridge Analytica scandal was based on this only. The agency took undue advantage of free access to the data of around 87 million Facebook accounts despite only 300,000 users actually using the third-party app.

To curb this flow of data, the social networking giant is limiting the power of third-party apps. In a blog post, the social networking site talked about how users would get more control over the apps. Users will have a free hand in removing the apps that they do not want, Facebook said. The company would also tell the users if their information had been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica.

“Starting on Monday, April 9, we’ll show people a link at the top of their News Feed so they can see what apps they use—and the information they have shared with those apps,” the blog read.

Until now, users could allow an app to access information about events attended or even hosted including private events. From now on, all the apps that use the Application Program Interface (API) are restricted from accessing the guest list or posts on the event wall. Going forward, only the app that makes it through Facebook’s strict requirements would be allowed to use the Events API.

For the Groups API, apps require permission of a group admin or a member to access group content for the closed groups, and the permission of an admin for secret groups. Now, all the third-party apps using the Groups API would require approval from Facebook and an admin.  Also, apps from now on cannot access the member list of a group.

Talking of the Pages API, the third-party apps were able to use it to read posts or comments from any page. After the amendments, all future access to the Pages API requires Facebook’s approval. Another change requires all the apps that request user information such as check-ins, like, photos, videos, events and groups to get approval from Facebook. Also, the company has restricted the apps that ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views, custom friends lists, relationship status and details.

Further, the social networking site is also partially pulling down its Instagram API. Also, on the search and account recovery front, a feature that allowed users to search someone through the email address and phone number have now been disabled. The Menlo Park, California-based company does not gather the message content and will delete all logs that are older than a year.

“Overall, we believe these changes will better protect people’s information while still enabling developers to create useful experiences,” the social networking giant said.

Along with these measures, the company also revealed that the data of around 87 million users may have been compromised in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The majority of the users were from the US. Earlier, reports put out the figure to be somewhere around 50 million.

The latest number was revealed at the bottom of a blog post written by chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer. This means that almost twice as many users as previously thought might have suffered in the latest privacy scandal, where the data was sold to the third-party company which was contracted by the Trump campaign to assist with election ad targeting.

Separately, these measures are not the only preventative actions that the company has taken following the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Last week, the company ended partnerships with several data brokers that help advertisers in targeting users on the social network. In the aftermath of the data privacy scandal, the social media has been under immense pressure to set its process right.

For years now, advertisers have had the option of targeting their ads based on the data collected by companies such as Acxiom Corp and Experian PLC. However, suspending the service would let Facebook improve on the user’s privacy. “While this is common industry practice, we believe this step, winding down over the next six months, will help improve people’s privacy on Facebook,” Facebook product marketing director, Graham Mudd, said in a statement, according to Reuters.