Facebook to start blocking 'apps with minimal utility'

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Facebook to start blocking 'apps with minimal utility'

In data privacy crackdown.

Facebook is set to start blocking “apps with minimal utility” from its platform and revoking permissions for data access that are not used by an app after 90 days.

The changes to Facebook’s “platform policies” were announced by product management director Eddie O’Neil in a blog post, and also include the shutdown of a large number of APIs.

O’Neil said today’s moves were a precursor to a “more significant update to our policies” which he said would be released “in the coming months”.

“In response to developer feedback, we will be moving toward a more streamlined and straightforward experience for developers and eliminating the need for certain supplemental terms,” O’Neil said.

Supplemental terms were imposed on app developers mid last year in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, where quiz apps were used to harvest the Facebook data of 87 million users worldwide.

The scandal is one of a number of privacy issues that has enveloped Facebook in recent years.

The company is facing a record fine of up to US$5 billion from US regulators over its privacy problems, as well as scrutiny in many markets in which it operates.

O’Neil said today that Facebook is set to crack down on personality quizzes - the vector used by Cambridge Analytica to harvest user data - as well as other low-utility apps.

“Our Facebook platform policies are being updated to include provisions that apps with minimal utility, such as personality quizzes, may not be permitted on the platform,” O’Neil said.

“The update also clarifies that apps may not ask for data that doesn't enrich the in-app, user experience.

“Also as of today, previously approved user permissions that your app has not used or accessed in the past 90 days may be considered expired. Access to expired permissions will be revoked.

“Going forward, we will periodically review, audit, and remove permissions that your app has not used. Developers can submit for App Review to regain access to expired permissions.”

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