In a blog post authored by Vice-president Ime Archibong, Facebook announced that it has suspended "tens of thousands" of third party applications that were using Facebook's developer tools, as part of its ongoing investigation into the improper use of data by third-party developers.
Facebook announced the initiation of the investigation in March 2018, as part of the company's efforts in the aftermath of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The investigation involved hundreds of professionals on Facebook's behalf, including attorneys, external investigators and data scientists, to examine millions of third party applications. Of these, tens of thousands have been suspended for a variety of reasons.
According to Facebook's announcement, the suspensions do not necessarily indicate that the suspended applications were posing a threat to the platform's users. Many of the suspended applications were in their testing phase and as such, not available to users. Other applications were suspended because their developers did not respond to Facebook's requests for information.
Some apps and developers were banned permanently for inappropriately sharing data obtained from the platform, violating user's privacy and Facebook's policies. Facebook also took legal actions against specific developers who severely violated either Facebook's or its user's rights. The company did not reveal the specific reasons for the suspension of each application.
Despite the high number of applications that were removed, Facebook explained that the suspended applications are associated with only 400 developers.
In addition to the investigation, Facebook made improvement to its platform and policies in the past couple of months. The firm removed multiple APIs in an attempt to restrict developer's access to a user's personal data and updated its platform policies prohibiting applications with minimal utility to users, such as personality quizzes.
Looking forward - Facebook is expected to strengthen its oversight over developers due to its latest agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, which, inter alia, required Facebook to certify the compliance of third party applications with Facebook's policies on an annual basis.
We also recently reported on Facebook and WhatsApp taking several measures, including through filing lawsuits, against developers who were abusing its platforms.