For more than a year, Facebook Inc. suspended “tens of thousands” of apps from about 400 developers that improperly pried into the personal information of its users, the company said in a blog post late Friday.
The apps were banned for “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,” Facebook said.
The company’s admission came the same day court filings revealed Facebook had suspended 69,000 apps. The case stemmed from an investigation it began in March 2018 following the disclosure that British consultancy Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of 87 million Facebook
users without their permission to aid Donald J. Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign.
The unsealed documents in a state court in Boston, part of a separate investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general into Facebook, indicate 10,000 apps were flagged for potentially mishandling personal data from Facebook users. Most of the suspensions occurred because developers failed to respond to emailed information requests.
Facebook said it has looked at millions of apps so far in its ongoing investigation. In August 2018, it said it suspended 400 apps. (In July, Facebook settled with the Federal Trade Commission for a record $5 billion over privacy violations from the Cambridge Analytica scandal.)
The disclosure about wide-scale app suspensions renews questions about how Facebook and other large tech companies handle personal information, and how that data fuels their considerable marketing power. Facebook is being investigated by the FTC, along with Amazon.com Inc.
The Justice Department is investigating Apple Inc.
and Alphabet Inc.’s
Indeed, House lawmakers have asked more than 80 companies how the businesses practices of the aforementioned quartet has harmed them, according to a report in the New York Times.
Facebook’s acknowledgment that its data privacy issues are significantly larger than it previously disclosed is sure to ratchet up political pressure on how it and its Big Tech brethren do business. Presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has advocated breaking up the companies, while others are pushing for stiff regulation.
Friday’s disclosure is particularly troublesome for Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg, who huddled with President Donald J. Trump and lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week to hash out concerns about its privacy practices and discuss potential regulation. Zuckerberg has repeatedly vowed to secure Facebook’s platform, spending billions of dollars in the process.