The unsealing of court documents surrounding the Cambridge Analytica case recently forced social media giant, Facebook, to admit that it has uncovered far more suspect apps than it was initially willing to admit. In fact, the number of purged apps appears to exceed 69,000 — far greater than the 400 it originally disclosed. The apps were found to have improperly collected users’ personal data and other misdeeds.
In March 2018, Facebook began to investigate British consultancy Cambridge Analytica for using peoples’ personal information without their permission. As the world’s largest social media network, Facebook has access to the information of over 2 billion people worldwide. A possible 87 million may have had their privacy breached.
Most of the apps were terminated, in truth, because they failed to cooperate with the investigation. However, fully 10,000 were flagged for misappropriating personal information. Facebook apps take myriad forms, from games to audiovisual programs to logins for unrelated third-party sites. But all gather data to expand their user base — sometimes unethically.
In the case of Cambridge Analytica, they harvested user data without express permission to support Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. As a result, Facebook has been battered by legal challenges, including lawsuits, regulatory investigations, and legislative hearings. Facebook executive Mark Zuckerberg recently visited Washington D.C. to testify before Congress and meet with the President regarding the subject.
Privacy Agreement with the FTC
The new revelations come on the tails of Facebook’s July agreement with the FTC, in which Facebook agreed to a $5 billion fine and greater privacy oversight. Facebook has been on the receiving end of a number of investigations by state attorney generals and the governments of Canada and Western Europe.
Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships, Ime Archibong, believes the new agreement will lead to better security for Facebook users. “Our new agreement with the FTC will bring its own set of requirements for bringing oversight to app developers. It requires developers to annually certify compliance with our policies. Any developer that doesn’t go along with these requirements will be held accountable.”
However, not everyone is convinced. There have been numerous calls for greater scrutiny and more severe penalties against Facebook. As Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, said in a recent press statement, “Facebook put up a neon sign that said ‘Free Private Data,’ and let app developers have their fill of Americans’ personal info.” The Senator called for Mark Zuckerberg to be personally investigated.
App Investigations are Ongoing
For now, Facebook continues its investigation into the app-makers. So far, it has only identified 400 developers who made apps for thousands of companies as well as test versions that weren’t deployed. Many legal investigations into the social media giant are likewise ongoing.
As Jules Polonetsky, head of the Future of Privacy Forum, a nonprofit focused on data privacy issues, recently stated, “If these apps escape legal penalty, developers are left thinking there is no legal risk, privacy is solely a platform responsibility and a terms of service agreement with Facebook.”
SecureForensics can protect data in a number of ways. We can halt any ongoing breach, investigate who was responsible, what was taken, and who was affected, and provide court-admissible evidence of cybercrimes. Call us at 1-800-288-1407 to learn more.