Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps from its platform, according to court filings unsealed by a state court in Boston. The documents showed that Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) had suspended 69,000 apps, 10,000 of which were flagged for potentially misappropriating personal data from Facebook users. The app suspensions renews questions about whether people’s personal information on Facebook is secure.
The documents were filed as part of an investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general into the technology company. The state prosecutor began examining Facebook’s data sharing practices after the Cambridge Analytica revelations broke in early 2018. In 2016, Cambridge Analytica, a British consultancy, retrieved and used people’s Facebook information without their permission and built voter profiles from it for the Trump presidential campaign. As many as 87 million users’ information could have been misused, according to the company’s previous statements.
Facebook had petitioned a judge in Boston to seal the records, but that seal has now been lifted. According to the documents, the suspended apps were associated with about 400 developers. Facebook said that was because developers often created apps for multiple clients, and built test versions of their products that were not deployed. Ime Archibong, a company executive, said some of the apps had not yet been rolled out, while others were suspended because they did not respond to the company’s request for information.
According to Mr. Archibong, the investigation is ongoing. He said, “We are far from finished. As each month goes by, we have incorporated what we learned and re-examined the ways that developers can build using our platforms. We’ve also improved the ways we investigate and enforce against potential policy violations that we find.”
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke, the social network has faced lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny from lawmakers around the world. Facebook struck a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission in July over privacy violations and is still facing an agency investigation for potential antitrust violations. The Justice Department and the F.B.I. are also investigating the company.