Social media network Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps “for a variety of reasons” as part of its ongoing App Developer Investigation.
The company said that the apps were associated with about 400 developers and that its decision to suspend the apps was not necessarily an indication that they posed a threat to users.
In a post on the company’s blog, Ime Archibong, VP of product partnerships at Facebook, wrote: “Many [apps] were not live but were still in their testing phase when we suspended them.
“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, honouring our commitment to take action.”
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Launched in March 2018, Facebook’s App Developer Investigation is part of its response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the company was deeply embroiled. Facebook said it has investigated millions of apps so far.
The review comes from hundreds of contributors including attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists, and teams within Facebook, the company said.
Some of the apps, the company said, had been banned entirely. An app it banned was called myPersonality, which Facebook said shared information with researchers and companies with only limited protections in place.
Furthermore, the app also refused to comply with Facebook’s request to participate in audits. The company also took legal action against South Korean data analytics company, Rankwave, for non compliance with its investigation.
Facebook has also filed legal action against LionMobi and JediMobi, accusing the companies of using apps to infect users phones with malware to generate profit, and against two Ukrainian men for using quiz apps to scrape user data from the platform.
The company said it is “far from finished” investigating and that its new agreement with the FTC means greater oversight for app developers and requires them to annually certify compliance with Facebook’s policies. In addition, it said it had expanded its dedicated team to investigate these violations, restricted the APIs used to connect to Facebook.
“As each month goes by, we have incorporated what we learned and reexamined the ways that developers can build using our platforms,” it wrote. “We’ve also improved the ways we investigate and enforce against potential policy violations that we find.”