Facebook to ban certain apps in response to Cambridge Analytica

Facebook to ban certain apps in response to Cambridge Analytica
© Greg Nash

Facebook is cracking down on third-party apps on its platform, announcing Thursday that it will no longer allow programs like the one that enabled political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica to obtain the information of millions of users without their consent.

The company said in a blog post that it will no longer allow apps with “minimal utility,” like personality quizzes, and will no longer allow apps to “ask for data that doesn't enrich the in-app, user experience.”

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The announcement comes five years after a researcher named Aleksandr Kogan built a Facebook app called thisisyourdigitallife, which collected data on users through a personality quiz and by vacuuming up information about the friends of the respondents. Kogan later sold the data — which included information on as many as 87 million users — to Cambridge Analytica, a political consulting firm that worked for President TrumpDonald John TrumpO'Rourke: Trump driving global, U.S. economy into recession Manchin: Trump has 'golden opportunity' on gun reforms Objections to Trump's new immigration rule wildly exaggerated MORE’s 2016 campaign and several other Republican candidates. 

The incident created an international firestorm, drawing scrutiny and a barrage of investigations from lawmakers and regulators over how Facebook handles user data and what kind of access it affords to third-party apps. 

Facebook on Wednesday revealed that it is expecting a fine of between $3 billion to $5 billion from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) as a result of its investigation into the company's handling of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

In the Thursday blog post, Facebook said it will revoke app developers' access to certain user permissions that they have not "used or access" in the past 90 days. 

User permissions specify the tasks that users can perform and what features users can access.  

"Going forward, we will periodically review, audit, and remove permissions that your app has not used," the blog post states. "Developers can submit for App Review to re-gain access to expired permissions."