‘Vital part of ecosystem’? Facebook blocks TENS OF THOUSANDS of apps hoarding your data & admits ‘won’t catch everything’
Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps for improperly using users’ personal information – orders of magnitude larger than the 400 they’d previously acknowledged – but they’ve promised to do better next time. Again.
Some 69,000 apps were suspended by Facebook for potentially slurping up users’ personal info without their knowledge or consent, according to a court filing unsealed in Boston on Friday. While 59,000 of those ended up on the chopping block merely because their developers refused to comply with Facebook’s investigation, 10,000 set off alarm bells for the likelihood they misappropriated data, according to the documents, whose release triggered a damage-control blog post from the company.
The apps were suspended “for a variety of reasons,” Facebook pleaded – they weren’t necessarily “posing a threat to people.” Wherever the company found wrongdoing – such as a pair of apps that infected users’ phones with malware in a lucrative fraud scheme – they insist they’ve put a stop to it, bragging they’ve even hauled the app developers into court. Facebook has even hired more people to sniff out bad actors, so they can “review every active app with access to more than basic user information.”
Perhaps most tellingly, Facebook refused to release the names of the apps or the 400 developers who manufactured them to the Massachusetts prosecutor and fought tooth and nail to keep the document revealing the extent of app developers’ privacy violations sealed. Until Friday, Facebook users had only heard of 400 app suspensions – yet time and again, after near-weekly revelations that the company has, as Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) told the New York Times on Friday, “put up a neon sign that said ‘Free Private Data,’” the company prostrates itself before regulators, lawmakers, and (almost as an afterthought) the users whose privacy has been violated, apologizing and promising they’ll change.
Now that the company is under the microscope of multiple antitrust probes, lawsuits, and other legal battles, the scapegoating has begun in earnest, but these app developers are still just scapegoats – Facebook’s policies were what allowed them to hoover up users’ data in the first place. And Facebook doesn’t want to scare away the app developers it calls “a vital part of the Facebook ecosystem,” so it admits it “won’t catch everything.” That neon sign advertising free data is still beaming away.
The same company that cooperated with the NSA to create a backdoor for the agency to spy on its users, which hired an architect of the Patriot Act as its chief lawyer while it was already knee-deep in privacy scandals, and which has stated in court that it doesn’t believe its users have a right to privacy is still trusted by billions with their private data.
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