Facebook Suspends 200 More Rogue Apps Suspected of Abusing Your Data

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has suspended roughly 200 applications it believes accessed large amounts of user data from the social network.

The figures, released by Facebook on Monday, emerged as part of an ongoing audit of third-party apps announced in March by CEO Mark Zuckerberg. At the time, the website was facing an unprecedented backlash after information linked to an estimated 87 million accounts was allegedly exploited via a personality test app by the controversial political profiling firm.

Cambridge Analytica, which has since been dissolved by parent company SCL Group, was also thrown into turmoil while its executives denied all wrongdoing. But now, Facebook has indicated that the company's actions were only the tip of the iceberg, revealing that hundreds more offending apps, if found to be guilty of breaking policy, could soon be banned.

"We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible," the website said. "Thousands of apps have been investigated and around 200 have been suspended—pending a thorough investigation into whether they did in fact misuse any data."

The company continued that it would ban apps that misused data and notify users via this website. "It will show people if they or their friends installed an app that misused data before 2015—just as we did for Cambridge Analytica."

Facebook said that the first phase of the probe would investigate any applications "that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform policies in 2014." Next, officials would start to "conduct interviews, make requests for information (RFI)—which ask a series of detailed questions" about the third-party applications discovered.

In a March post, Zuckerberg conceded that the data misuse case, first revealed by The Guardian, was a "breach of trust." He promised to take action against any similar apps that may have exploited seemingly lax security protocols to scoop and scape public data from its 2 billion users.

"We will ban any developer from our platform that does not agree to a thorough audit," he wrote. "And if we find developers that misused personally identifiable information, we will ban them and tell everyone affected by those apps."

Since the story broke, commentators have maintained that Cambridge Analytica was far from the only company taking advantage of social media analytics. James Sullivan and Alexander Babuta, two research fellows at U.K. think tank RUSI, wrote in March, "The methodology used to bring big data and social media together to create psychological profiles is legal, has been in use for several years, and its increased use should not come as a surprise."