Facebook, the world’s most popular social network, has suspended thousands of apps as part of its drive to review how best to understand patterns of abuse in the aim of rooting out bad actors among developers.
The suspended apps are associated with about 400 developers, the company said on Friday.
“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,” Ime Archibong, Facebook VP of Product Partnerships, said.
“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, honoring our commitment to take action.”
The suspension comes in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, its British partner which used private data belonging to 87 million users for political advertising.
The suspension, seen as a precautionary move amid users’ fears of private data hijacking, is thought to be part of an extensive investigation to find out how users‘ confidential information was improperly used.
“In a few cases, we have banned apps completely. That can happen for any number of reasons including inappropriately sharing data obtained from us, making data publicly available without protecting people’s identity or something else that was in clear violation of our policies,” Archibong explained.
Facebook has been under a lot of criticism at home – in the US – and abroad for carelessly handling its users’ private data and other security breaches.
In July this year, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) fined the social network a record US$5 billion fine to settle privacy concerns. It was then ordered to establish an independent privacy committee which Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg would not have control over.
Tens of thousands of users across Africa often complain of their accounts being hacked or doubled up by unknown people, who use them to send funny messages to their friends.
“I’m not sure if I should continue trusting Facebook due to countless times my account has been hacked and my pictures used elsewhere,” Vivienne, a 23-year-old university student, told Daily Afrika in Benin’s commercial capital Cotonou.
“Despite repeated promises to its billions of users worldwide that they could control how their personal information is shared, Facebook undermined consumers’ choices,” FTC chairman Joe Simons said.
Vivienne, who had to change passwords over and over again without the situation improving, said she was on the brink of quitting the social network over its carelessness.