Data belonging to most of Facebook’s 2 billion users could have been accessed without their consent, the social media company announced this week. As a result, it’s taking steps to restrict the amount of information accessible to outside parties by removing certain features.
The changes announced this week affect Facebook’s Events API, Groups API, Pages API, Facebook Login, Instagram Platform API, Call and Text History, Data Providers and Partner Categories, and App Controls. Starting April 4, 2018, for example, Facebook will need to approve all apps requesting access to data like photos, posts, check-ins, events, and groups.
One of the most critical changes affects Search and Account Recovery. Until April 4, users could search for people using their phone number or email address. This feature has been deleted following the realization malicious actors have abused it to scrape public profile data by submitting phone numbers and email addresses they already have through account recovery.
“Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way,” the company says. Facebook also reports the data of about 87 million people was taken by Cambridge Analytica without users’ consent. Most of those affected are in the United States.
The extent of changes demonstrates a shift in Facebook’s relationship with third-party apps, which could previously access users’ events, relationship statuses, and other information.
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