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Facebook Says It Will Do More to Protect User Data from Apps

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Mar 21, 2018, 3:19 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg today outlined several steps the company has taken and plans to take to protect users in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In 2013, an app developer created a personality quiz that was used by 300,000 people. The app had access to those peoples' data, and also the data of their friends, which numbered in the millions. The developer later shared that data with Cambridge Analytica, a firm that put the data to use in creating profiles of U.S. voters ahead of the 2016 election. "This was a breach of trust between [the developer], Cambridge Analytica and Facebook. But it was also a breach of trust between Facebook and the people who share their data with us and expect us to protect it. We need to fix that," said Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg contends that in 2014 Facebook put in place measures that prevent apps from soliciting large amounts of data from users. Moving forward, it intends to audit all the apps that had access to large amounts of data before 2014. The company will audit any developers or apps that show suspicious activity, which may result in bans from the Facebook platform. If it finds abuse, Facebook will alert the impacted people as quickly as it can. Zuckerberg says the company will further restrict apps' access to user data, and will remove developer access altogether once a person hasn't used an app in three months. It will reduce the amount of data required for sign-ins to just a name, photo, and email address. Developers that want more information than that will have to obtain approval from Facebook. Last, the company plans to install a tool at the top of the News Feed that shows people which apps they've used, as well as give them an easy way to revoke those apps' permissions. Facebook suggests people review the apps that have access to their data and delete any they don't want to keep connected to their account. "We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can't then we don't deserve to serve you," said Zuckerberg. Facebook didn't say anything about what the social network itself does with user data.

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