By Sarah E. Needleman
Facebook Inc. said it suspended tens of thousands of apps for violating its rules around accessing and sharing information and for failing to respond to company requests, a disclosure that comes after the social-networking company was hit with a record $5 billion fine in July for failing to protect its users.
In a blog post Friday, Facebook said the suspended apps are associated with about 400 developers, though many were still in test phases. The company said it also banned some apps permanently and that it recently filed lawsuits against some developers for fraud or for failing to cooperate with an internal investigation.
"App developers remain a vital part of the Facebook ecosystem," the company said in the blog post. "They help to make our world more social and more engaging. But people need to know we're protecting their privacy."
Facebook said it first began cracking down on apps that violate its policies in March 2018 in response to its role in a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a now-defunct data firm that worked on President Trump's 2016 campaign.
The Federal Trade Commission opened a probe after reports surfaced that Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed the personal data of tens of millions of Facebook users. In settling the federal investigation, Facebook agreed to pay a $5 billion fine and adopt new oversight practices, including creating a privacy committee with independent board members.
Facebook in May 2018 said it suspended about 200 apps for suspected misuse of users' information; months later, that number grew to more than 400.
In addition to the app suspensions and removals, Facebook said it created new rules to more tightly control developers' access to its data. For example, apps that provide little value to users, such as personality quizzes, may not be allowed, the company said. Facebook also said it has expanded teams that investigate abuse of data-access rules.
Separately, Facebook said its agreement with the FTC requires developers to now certify compliance with its policies annually. "Any developer that doesn't go along with these requirements will be held accountable," the company said.
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