Facebook said Monday morning it had suspended roughly 200 apps amid an ongoing investigation prompted by the Cambridge Analytica scandal into whether services on the site had improperly used or collected users’ personal data.
Facebook did not immediately provide detail on which apps were suspended or how many people had used them. The company said in an update, its first look since the social network announced the internal audit in March, that the apps would now undergo a “thorough investigation” into whether they had misused user data.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said the company will examine tens of thousands of apps that could have accessed or collected large amounts of users’ personal information before the site’s more restrictive data rules for third-party developers took effect in 2015.
The company said teams of internal and external experts will conduct interviews and lead on-site inspections of certain apps during its ongoing audit. Thousands of apps have been investigated so far, the company said, adding that any app that refuses to cooperate or failed the audit would be banned from the site.
The app used by Cambridge Analytica, a political consultancy hired by President Donald Trump and other Republicans, was able to pull detailed data on 87 million people, including from the app’s direct users and their friends, who had not overtly consented to the app’s use.
The suspensions support a long-running defense of Aleksandr Kogan, the researcher who provided Facebook data to Cambridge Analytica, that many apps besides his had gathered vast amounts of user information under Facebook’s previously lax data-privacy rules.
The announcement comes ahead of a Wednesday hearing on Capitol Hill focused on Cambridge Analytica and data privacy. Lawmakers are expected to hear from Christopher Wylie, a former employee at the firm who brought its business practices to light earlier this year, though the Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet released a final witness list.
In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether Facebook’s entanglement with Cambridge Analytica violates its 2011 settlement with the U.S. government over another series of privacy mishaps. Such violations could carry sky-high fines.
Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the European Parliament is still requesting that Zuckerberg come testify in person. A spokesman for Antonio Tajani, the president of the parliament, did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
British lawmakers have issued a similar demand, and Facebook told a panel there investigating the company that it would make a decision about Zuckerberg’s potential appearance by Monday. A spokeswoman for the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee said they had heard from Facebook but declined to provide further details.
Facebook said users could go to this page to see if they had used one of the apps that is currently under investigation, https://www.facebook.com/help/yourinfo
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