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What Will the Facebook Scandal Mean for Developers?

Wednesday Mar 21st 2018 by Developer.com Staff

There may have been more than one development firm using Facebook data in ways that violated the terms of service.

For the past several days, the media has been filled with reports about how a third-party developer created a personality test app for Facebook that collected data on users and their friends. The developer then sold that data, in violation of Facebook's terms of service, to Cambridge Analytica, which used the data to help elect President Trump.

Although Facebook tightened up its privacy controls in 2015, other developers have come forward to say that it used to be amazingly easy to get Facebook users to give them all their data — and all their friends' data. One, who created a simple app that would give people a badge on their profile, remembered thinking, "F***, people will literally give away everything for nothing."

Daphne Keller, Director of Intermediary Liability at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, noted, "The overall privacy design of FB apps has been an open invitation for developments like this from the beginning. This is a story about an ecosystem full of privacy risk, and the inevitable abuse that resulted. It’s not about a security breach." And she agreed that this could just be "the tip of the iceberg" with more news to come about developers collecting user data.

So far, the scandal has resulted in scrutiny from Congress and users reexamining how much they share on Facebook or even deleting their accounts. Developers with Facebook apps could also face inquiries or find it more difficult to get users for their apps.

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