Keeping up with Facebook’s various scandals and troubling revelations isn’t easy. As the company continues to increase profits, holding them accountable is more important now than ever. That’s why we want to spotlight Facebook’s newest blunder. It’s a huge one.
Facebook announced that they’ve recently suspended tens of thousands of apps from the platform. And while their reasoning thus far has been vague, it’s clear that the suspension has to do with improper data collection. It’s important to note that after last year’s massive Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook flagged a mere 400 apps for this very same reason. Those 400 apps alone were responsible for exposing the data of tens of millions of users. So this new wave of suspensions implies a potentially far more massive level of exposure.
Facebook has provided an oblique explanation as to why these apps have been banned, and it’s not a shocker. Many apps have been removed because they were found to be siphoning off Facebook user profile data. Either that, or they were making that data public without first anonymizing it. The fact that Facebook waited another year to announce their efforts is troubling. Maybe they were waiting to round up all of the offenders before they dropped another bombshell. But that’s quite a long time to let these apps continue their illegal activity unfettered. Facebook’s excuse is that it has been suspending apps on a rolling basis since Cambridge Analytica. But let’s not forget that Facebook profits off of these apps in the meantime.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has become a vocal proponent of data privacy as of late, and subsequently a harsh critic of Facebook and other Big Tech companies. In a recent statement, he condemned this latest revelation as inexcusable. “Facebook put up a neon sign that said ‘Free Private Data,’ and let app developers have their fill of Americans’ personal info,” he said. “The FTC needs to hold Mark Zuckerberg personally responsible.” Plans to do just that are likely in the works, as Facebook currently faces 11 ongoing investigations from the Justice Department, SEC, and Attorney General. In July, the Federal Trade Commission fined the company $5 billion over privacy breaches. As long as Facebook continues to be held accountable for their actions, things won’t get too out of hand. And ordinary citizens need to stay vigilant and informed along the way.
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