Facebook Chief Technology Officer Mike Shroepfer today wrote a blog post outlining several changes that are being made to Facebook APIs to limit the amount of data apps can collect from Facebook users.
Changes are being made to the Events, Groups, and Pages API to cut down on what apps can see. With the Events API, for example, apps will no longer be able to access attendees or posts on the event wall, and the Groups API will no longer provide member lists or names associated with posts or comments.
Facebook will also now need to approve third-party access to both Groups and Pages APIs, and, as mentioned previously, all apps that access information like check-ins, photos, posts, and videos. Apps will no longer be able to see religious or political views, relationship status, education, work history, and tons more, all of which was previously readily available.
It is also no longer possible to search for a person’s phone number or email address to locate them on Facebook. Facebook says “malicious actors” have used this feature to “scrape public profile information” using data pulled from search and account recovery options.
For Android users, Facebook had been collecting call and message logs to enable Messenger features. Facebook says it will delete all logs older than a year and will upload less data to its servers going forward.
Starting next Monday, Facebook will also introduce a link at the top of the News Feed to let all users see what apps are installed and what information has been shared with those apps to make it easy for less technically savvy users to remove apps.
The Facebook privacy changes come in the wake of the ongoing Cambridge Analytica scandal, where Cambridge Analytica used personal data acquired from Facebook in an illicit manner by a third-party app to create targeted political advertisements during the 2016 election.
Originally, Facebook said Cambridge Analytica was able to collect data on 50 million Facebook users, but today, Facebook clarified that it actually had access to the Facebook data from up to 87 million people, with 70 million of those in the United States.
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