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Facebook suspends 200 apps over misuse of private user data

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WASHINGTON — Facebook said Monday it has suspended “around 200” apps on its platform as part of an investigation into misuse of private user data.

The investigation was launched after revelations that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica hijacked data on some 87 million Facebook users as it worked on Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

“The investigation process is in full swing,” said an online statement from Facebook product partnerships Vice-President Ime Archibong.

“We have large teams of internal and external experts working hard to investigate these apps as quickly as possible. To date 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.”

Archibong added that “where we find evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, we will ban them and notify people via this website.”

Facebook made a policy change in 2014 limiting access to user data but noted that some applications still had data obtained prior to the revision.

The 200 applications Facebook said it suspended included one called myPersonality that collected psychological information shared by millions of members of the social network who voluntarily took “psychometric” tests.

“We are currently investigating the app, and if myPersonality refuses to cooperate or fails our audit, we will ban it.”

About 40% of the people who took the tests also opted to share Facebook profile data, resulting in a large science research database, the University of Cambridge psychometrics center said of the project on its website.

Security and encryption at the website used to share data with registered academic collaborators was meager and easily bypassed, according to a report Monday in British magazine New Scientist. — AFP