In the weeks since the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light, Facebook has insisted that apps could no longer access the data of users’ friends in the ways that allowed the firm to collect millions of people’s information without their knowledge.
But, that doesn’t mean your friends lists were completely off limits.
While Facebook says it made changes to ‘dramatically limit the data apps could access’ back in 2014, including detailed data about a person’s friends, developers could still access ‘taggable friends’ lists until just two weeks ago.
This would reveal names and profile pictures of those friends, according to the Telegraph.
While Facebook says it made changes to ‘dramatically limit the data apps could access’ back in 2014, including data about a person’s friends, developers could still access ‘taggable friends’ until just two weeks ago. File photo
Facebook disabled the taggable friends interface on April 4, when it rolled out what it said would be the first of many changes designed to address privacy concerns in the wake of Cambridge Analytica.
While developers could not see these users’ unique Facebook IDs, an investigation by the Tyee found that apps could access full names and the web address of their profile photos, which could then be used to search them to scrape further public information.
All of this could be done without those users’ knowledge.
The firm has since done away with the interface that allowed this type of data scraping – but, the move came years after some of the privacy changes it has been touting over the last few weeks.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has made numerous efforts to address the growing concerns, and even sat down before Congress for a two-day grilling on data and privacy.
In the hours-long day one hearing, Zuckerberg insisted that the firm will be stepping up its efforts to protect users’ personal data.
Last Tuesday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg sat down before Congress to address the mounting concerns that have emerged in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, from user privacy to targeted ads
HOW DOES FACEBOOK PLAN TO RESTRICT APPS’ DATA ACCESS?
Facebook’s Chief Technology Office Mike Schroepfer outlined the nine ‘most important changes’ the firm is making in wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
He also revealed the issue affected up to 87 million users.
Moving forward, Facebook says:
- Apps using Groups, Events, and Pages APIs will face much tighter restrictions, and will not be able to access member lists or view personal information such as names and profile pictures
- Facebook will approve all apps that request access to info such as check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events and groups. It will also no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal information such as religious or political views
- Phone number and email searches have been disabled, due to ‘abuse.’ According to the CTO, the firm believes ‘most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way.’
- Controversial opt-in feature that allowed Facebook to collect call and text history from Android users will ‘not collect the content of messages — and will delete all logs older than one year,’ Schroepfer said
- Firm is also rolling out a new tool to more prominently display the apps and websites you use at the top of the News Feed
Starting Monday, April 9, Facebook began showing users a link at the top of their News Feed to more easily reveal the apps they use (as shown above)
The Facebook CEO said he is ‘committed to getting this right,’ after acknowledging that it was a mistake not to notify the millions of affected users back in 2015 that their data had been compromised when the firm first learned of Cambridge Analytica’s activity.
According to Zuckerberg, the firm had ‘considered it a closed case’ after it first took action against Cambridge Analytica and ‘demanded’ both they and the app developer delete the data.
‘They told us that they had,’ Zuckerberg said.
‘In retrospect it was a mistake that we didn’t audit them,’ the Facebook CEO added, when pressed on the issue.