In yet another data breach, Facebook on Wednesday revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users' data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners "accessed group members' information in the last 60 days". The social networking giant found that the apps, primarily social media management and video streaming apps, retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). "Although we've seen no evidence of abuse, we will ask them to delete any member data they may have retained and we will conduct audits to confirm that it has been deleted," the company said in a statement.
"We've removed or restricted a number of our developer APIs, such as the Groups API, which provides an interface between Facebook and apps that can integrate with a group," it added. Facebook is facing scrutiny after personal data of 87 million users were harvested by UK-based political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has slapped Facebook with a $5 billion fine as a result of the breach. According to the company, the apps designed to make it easier for group admins to manage their groups more effectively and help members share videos with their groups.
"For example, if a business managed a large community consisting of many members across multiple groups, they could use a social media management app to provide customer service, including customized responses, at scale. But while this access provided benefits to people and groups on Facebook, we made the decision to remove it and are following through on that approach," said Facebook. According to Facebook's director of platform partnerships, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, the new framework under their agreement with the FTC means more accountability and transparency into how it builds and maintains products.
"As we continue to work through this process we expect to find more examples of where we can improve, either through our products or changing how data is accessed. We are committed to this work and supporting the people on our platform," said the company.