Facebook to limit access to user data by developers

In light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has announced that it’ll be placing more limits on apps that gain access to users’ accounts. Developers will now receive less information from users and they will be cut off from access when users stop using the app. Furthermore, before they get more information, they’ll need permission from Facebook.

The only info developers will get from users when they sign in will now be the username, profile photo, and email address. For a developer to get access to user posts and more information from a user, they must be permitted by Facebook. This is all part of a plan to stop user data from being unnecessarily spread around.

In addition, Facebook is cutting off apps’ access to an account’s data when the user hasn’t used the app for 3 months. Many users have recognized that they’ve let a lot of apps remain connected to their Facebook accounts and distributing their data.

These changes were announced by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a post. He also announced that by next month, Facebook will place a tool at the top of the  News Feed which provides users with a medium to disable apps. The company plans to also “investigate all apps that had access to large amounts” in previous times, to make certain nothing was abused, and to let users know if it’s discovered that their data was mishandled.

To do so, Facebook will check for “suspicious activity” in companies it is investigation and “conduct a full audit” of them, declining the audit will ban them from Facebook. Developers who misused “personally identifiable information” will be banned also. The investigation will include developers on the platform before or since 2014 when Facebook made a change, limiting the amount of data they had access to. Then, a developer could access data from a user’s friends (even when their friends have not granted the app access). This is pretty much how Cambridge Analytica obtained info on 50 million accounts even though it began with less than 300,000.

Facebook also has intentions to expand its bug bounty program to cater for misuse of data in third-party apps.

Facebook says more alterations will be announced in the “coming weeks,” and that it means to induce other data protection efforts it was already working on in response to approaching data protection rules in the European Union.

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