FOR YEARS, FACEBOOK has tried to put a lid on the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but court documents revealed on Friday suggest that we may only have scratched the surface of quite how endemic the problem really was. And, possibly, still is.
The court in Boston unsealed documents that showed Facebook had suspended 69,000 apps. Most of these were suspended for not cooperating with Facebook's investigation, but around 10,000 might have been misusing data, according to the documents, first reported by the New York Times.
In the documents, Facebook says it identified two million apps that needed close attention, of which the social network homed in on 10,000. Of these, 6,000 were flagged thanks to a large install base which could potentially impact a whole lot of people, while 2,000 were checked to see if they had any connections to "entities of interest" or showed signs of fraud.
The remaining 2,000 were given a technical review to see if they had made any broad data requests that could suggest misuse. Facebook has refused the prosector's demand for the apps to be named directly, so you'll just have to guess which ones could be problematic.
With entirely coincidental timing, Facebook published a blog post outlining how it "wanted to provide an update" on its App Developer investigation, and how it has suspended "tens of thousands" of apps "for a variety of reasons." Curious that it came at the same time its documents were unsealed in court, but there we are: coincidences clearly happen every day.
"It is important to understand that the apps that have been suspended are associated with about 400 developers," wrote Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships.
"This is not necessarily an indication that these apps were posing a threat to people. Many were not live but were still in their testing phase when we suspended them. It is not unusual for developers to have multiple test apps that never get rolled out. And in many cases, the developers did not respond to our request for information so we suspended them, honouring our commitment to take action.
"We have not confirmed other instances of misuse to date other than those we have already notified the public about, but our investigation is not yet complete," it added.
The Cambridge Analytica scandal really is the gift that keeps giving. µ
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