Facebook says 100 devs tried to access its Groups system since being locked down

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Facebook has come under fire in recent years about the way it handles data, and more specifically the ability for app developers and other firms to access said data following the high-profile Cambridge Analytica scandal.

It prompted the company to lock down access to its Groups system last year in April, among other measures being taken, but as it turns out some app developers have still tried to access the platform in a bid to get user data.

The company explained as much in a blog post earlier this week noting that as many as 100 developers have tried to access the Groups system in the past year, with 11 in particular trying to do so in the past 60 days.

This latest revelation has now prompted Facebook to restrict any of its partners having access to the platform, the firm says.

“As part of our ongoing review, we recently found that some apps retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API, for longer than we intended. We have since removed their access,” writes Facebook’s Konstantinos Papamiltiadis.

“Today we are also reaching out to roughly 100 partners who may have accessed this information since we announced restrictions to the Groups API, although it’s likely that the number that actually did is smaller and decreased over time. We know at least 11 partners accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days. Although we’ve seen no evidence of abuse, we will ask them to delete any member data they may have retained and we will conduct audits to confirm that it has been deleted,” he adds.

As Papamiltiadis notes above, there is no indication that partners abused their access, but Facebook will conduct an audit to ensure that they have indeed deleted said data that they had improper access to.

With Facebook having taken significant steps to address access issues with its Group systems API last year, which included among other things requiring vetting from the company before access was granted, the fact that an estimated 100 partners were still be to gain access improperly is a bit concerning.

That said Facebook’s transparency here is pleasing to see, especially as the firm has been lax in this regard in recent years, but if it does not want another Cambridge Analytica on its hands, it needs to do a better job of these aspects of the business.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.