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

The ultimate law enforcement agency guide to going mobile

Best practices for implementing a mobile device program

Free download

The business value of Red Hat OpenShift

Platform cost savings, ROI, and the challenges and opportunities of Red Hat OpenShift

Free download

Managing security and risk across the IT supply chain: A practical approach

Best practices for IT supply chain security

Free download

Digital remote monitoring and dispatch services’ impact on edge computing and data centres

Seven trends redefining remote monitoring and field service dispatch service requirements

Free download

Recommended

Facebook claims AI managed to reduce hate speech by 50%
social media

Facebook claims AI managed to reduce hate speech by 50%

18 Oct 2021
Facebook to hire 10,000 workers across the EU
social media

Facebook to hire 10,000 workers across the EU

18 Oct 2021
The worst hacks of all time
hacking

The worst hacks of all time

30 Sep 2021
Facebook pauses work on Instagram Kids
social media

Facebook pauses work on Instagram Kids

27 Sep 2021

Most Popular

Best Linux distros 2021
operating systems

Best Linux distros 2021

11 Oct 2021
HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games
Network & Internet

HPE wins networking contract with Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

15 Oct 2021
Veritas Backup Exec 21.3 review: Covers every angle
backup software

Veritas Backup Exec 21.3 review: Covers every angle

14 Oct 2021