Data Privacy: Facebook’s Suspension of ‘Tens of Thousands’ of Apps Reveals Wider Privacy Issues

Summary

  • The article reveals the extent to which Facebook had misappropriated user’s data through third-party apps. The company suspended tens of thousands of apps that may have mishandled user’s private data by accessing their names and profile pictures.
  • The suspension comes in the wake of investigations regarding the company’s private data handling ignited by revelations that a British consultancy firm, Cambridge Analytica, had used Facebook users’ private data without their full consent in
  • Facebook had initially attempted to petition Boston judge to seal the records of the apps involved, and the user’s affected by the privacy breach. However, a subpoena by a Massachusetts Judge unsealed the records after quashing the petition. The records show that Facebook had suspended a majority of the third-party apps due to cooperation issues and mishandling of the private data they had accessed.
  • Facebook has 2.2 billion users worldwide, making it the largest social media network but has come under scrutiny in its capability to safeguards its user’s private data. The company had been at the center of an investigation by the government regarding privacy violations recently.
  • Facebook was found guilty of gross misconduct and fined $5 billion by the Federal Trade Commission and submitted to Federal oversight regarding its business practices. The company was also to increase vigilance on third-party app’s use of its data.

Impact of Privacy Regulations

Facebook social media site is used worldwide; thus, its data accessibility has a global impact. The collection of private data in today’s socially networked world is inevitable due to the large volumes of information posted on social media sites (Conger & X, 2019) The users delegate the responsibility for the protection of their private data to the tech giant by agreeing to the terms and conditions set. However, the company collaboration with app developers and advertisers jeopardize the way Facebook collects and monetizes the user’s data. The access of this private data is done without the consent of the people concerned and may be used against them without their knowledge as the case of Cambridge Analytica.

The expose regarding the handling of data by Facebook has led to worldwide condemnation due to the amount of personal data users have on the platform. This has led to the formulation of stricter rules and regulations by organizations such as the European Union (EU) and California to protect their citizens from breaching their privacy. The EU and California state have recently implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), respectively, whose core function is to protect users’ data from being used without their consent and full understanding (Carlson, McKinney, Slezak and Wilmot, 2020). Another revelation is that users are not well versed with the policy privacies included in the cookies notification on the third-party apps. The company is at the responsibility of finding better ways to communicate the policies for the users to have full disclosure of the guidelines involved.

Questions Posed

  1. With the number of users expected to continue rising, how will the company keep tabs on the usage of the personal data collected by the vast number of app developers?
  2. How can policymakers make use of the article information to contribute to their decision making on laws regarding how to regulate privacy on social media sites better?
  3. How will Facebook retrieve the accessed personal data from rogue apps that had been banned?

 

 

References

Carlson, G., McKinney, J., Slezak, E., & Wilmot, E. S. (2020). General Data Protection Regulation and California Consumer Privacy Act: Background. Currents: J. Int’l Econ. L., 24, 62.

Conger, K., & X, G. (2019, September 20). Facebook’s Suspension of ‘Tens of Thousands’ of Apps Reveals Wider Privacy Issues. Retrieved August 21, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/20/technology/facebook-data-privacy-suspension.html

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