Facebook flaw gave 5,000 developers access to users' data

Information from users' profiles was accessible after the 90-day time limit had expired

Facebook website on a computer screen

Facebook has admitted that it accidentally shared user data with developers for longer than it should have.

Facebook apps are supposed to prevent access to personal data if users have not used the app for more than 90 days. However, the social network has said that a flaw in how inactivity was recorded allowed approximately 5,000 developers to collect data from users’ profiles after the 90-day time limit on their rights had expired. 

“Recently, we discovered that in some instances apps continued to receive the data that people had previously authorized, even if it appeared they hadn’t used the app in the last 90 days,” Facebook admitted in a statement.

“For example, this could happen if someone used a fitness app to invite their friends from their hometown to a workout, but we didn’t recognize that some of their friends had been inactive for many months. 

“From the last several months of data we have available, we currently estimate this issue enabled approximately 5,000 developers to continue receiving information - for example, language or gender - beyond 90 days of inactivity as recognized by our systems.”

Facebook says it fixed the issue the day after discovering it, adding that it plans to investigate the slip-up and that it will continue to prioritize transparency with respect to any major updates. It has not stated how many users had their personal data scraped.

In 2018, the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal exposed how third-party apps were harvesting Facebook users’ personal information. Cambridge Analytica’s app harvested the data of users who interacted with the app, as well as their friends who had not consented to the use of their data. 

Following the US Congress’ questioning of Mark Zuckerberg in 2018 on how Facebook dealt with users’ personal data, the company established the 90-day lock-out policy for apps that year. However, the lock-out did not work as intended.

A company rep stated: “We haven’t seen evidence that this issue resulted in sharing information that was inconsistent with the permissions people gave when they logged in using Facebook.”

Facebook has also simplified its platform terms and developer policies to provide clearer guidance on data usage and sharing, as well as respecting users’ privacy when using its platform.

Facebook stated: “These new terms limit the information developers can share with third parties without explicit consent from people. They also strengthen data security requirements and clarify when developers must delete data.”

Featured Resources

Virtual desktops and apps for dummies

An easy guide to virtual desktop infrastructure, end-user computing, and more

Download now

The total economic impact of optimising and managing your hybrid multi-cloud

Cost savings and business benefits of accelerating the cloud journey

Download now

A buyer’s guide for cloud-based phone solutions

Finding the right phone system for your modern business

Download now

What’s next for the education sector?

A new learning experience

Download now

Recommended

Facebook bans Signal's crafty anti-tracking ad campaign
data protection

Facebook bans Signal's crafty anti-tracking ad campaign

5 May 2021
Facebook Workplace hits 7 million paid subscribers
business communications

Facebook Workplace hits 7 million paid subscribers

5 May 2021
What is Section 230 and why does it matter?
Policy & legislation

What is Section 230 and why does it matter?

30 Apr 2021
Facebook achieves its goal of 100% green energy
social media

Facebook achieves its goal of 100% green energy

15 Apr 2021

Most Popular

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans
flexible working

KPMG offers staff 'four-day fortnight' in hybrid work plans

6 May 2021
How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD
operating systems

How to move Windows 10 from your old hard drive to SSD

30 Apr 2021
16 ways to speed up your laptop
Laptops

16 ways to speed up your laptop

29 Apr 2021