Facebook has suspended roughly 200 apps out of thousands it has investigated, as it continues to try and dig itself out from the Cambridge Analytica data scandal.

The social media giant gave an update Monday on its investigation, first announced March 21, into applications that vacuumed up large amounts of personal information from its platform in the days before it changed its policy and restricted such access in 2014.

One of those apps to exploit Facebook’s earlier, more open data-sharing policy was a personality quiz app called “This is your digital life” made by University of Cambridge lecturer Aleksandr Kogan and deployed in 2013. Facebook says he then passed the data he gained from the quiz app to political campaigning firm Cambridge Analytica and parent company SCL.

In Canada, Facebook announced on April 6 that it was suspending Victoria-based tech firm, AggregateIQ, which was involved in the Brexit referendum campaign in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union.

Christopher Wylie, a data scientist from British Columbia, has said Cambridge Analytica used the harvested Facebook data to help support United States President Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. AggregateIQ has also been linked with Wylie and SCL.

Facebook has estimated 622,161 Canadians were potentially affected by the incident.

The fallout from the scandal has led to a flurry of activity from lawmakers and watchdogs in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom as they probe the connections between social media and the democratic process.

In Canada, for example, AggregateIQ executives recently faced federal Parliamentary ethics committee questioning over whether they had sufficiently co-operated with the U.K. information commissioner. Meanwhile, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also testified in front of Congress.

The ethics committee also heard testimony last week from a Google representative, who said Google hadn’t seen similar activity on its platform.

Out of an investigation into thousands of apps, Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships said May 14 in a blog post that the company had suspended around 200 pending an investigation into any misuse of data.

“Where we find evidence that these or other apps did misuse data, we will ban them and notify people via this website,” Archibong wrote, pointing to the web page facebook.com/help/yourinfo, which determines examines whether a user or one of their contacts logged into one of the apps in question.

National Observer asked Facebook how many of the 200 apps were made by Canadian developers, or developed in Canada. A spokesperson for the company said it had nothing more to share at the moment, noting the investigation is still ongoing.

“There is a lot more work to be done to find all the apps that may have misused people’s Facebook data – and it will take time,” wrote Archibong in the blog post.

“We are investing heavily to make sure this investigation is as thorough and timely as possible. We will keep you updated on our progress."

Editor's note: This story was updated at 3:02 p.m. ET on May 14, 2018 to include a comment from a Facebook spokesperson.

Investigative journalism has never been more important. Will you help?

Subscribe

Comments

Today's must read