Facebook Makes Sweeping Changes to Data Collection Policies

Posted by at 12:38 pm on April 5, 2018

Facebook has made significant changes to its platform as it continues to deal with the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica breach.

To start, the company now believes Cambridge Analytica was given improper access to the data of as many as 87 million people, mostly U.S. citizens. The data was passed to Cambridge through a third-party app that had access to user profiles before Facebook changed its policies back in 2014. In order to help people understand how Facebook handles data, the company has rewritten its terms of use and privacy policy so it is easier to understand.

The company is not changing its terms or policies, but the revised text should be simpler for most to digest. More importantly, the company has huge changes in store for how apps and services access and use your data. For example, Facebook Messenger and Facebook Lite will no longer continuously upload call and text history form Android phones, and will delete all data older than one year. Facebook plans to limit the scale of some APIs. Apps using the Events API will no longer be able to access the guest list or posts on any given event wall.

All third-party apps using the Groups API will need approval from Facebook and an admin to ensure they benefit the group, and the apps will no longer be able to access the member list of a group. All future access to the Pages API will need to be approved by Facebook. The tool is meant to help developers create tools for Page owners for things like scheduled posts. Facebook discovered, however, that it also lets apps access more data than necessary.

Similarly, Facebook said it will need to approve all apps that take advantage of Facebook Login, particularly if those apps request access to likes, photos, posts, videos, events, and groups. In the next few weeks, Facebook will remove developers’ ability to request data at all if people haven’t used their app in the last three months.

Facebook-owned instagram has accelerated its plans to deprecate the Instagram Platform API, which will cease working effective today. The company is also making moves to protect against certain searches. For example, people can today search for others via phone number or email address. Facebook admits that malicious actors take advantage of this feature to scrape public profile information.

For now, Facebook has disabled this search tool and made changes to account recovery to further reduce the risk of scraping.

Last, the social network plans to roll out a new tool for controlling third-party applications. The link will appear at the top of users’ News Feed. They’ll be able to easily see what apps are using their data and remove those apps from Facebook if they so wish. This tool will go live April 9.

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