Facebook Wants Security Researchers to Hunt Down Apps That Misuse User Data

Facebook app

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal, Facebook has announced important changes to its app platform, along with improvements to its official bug bounty program that will incentivize and reward security researchers for hunting down third-party Facebook apps that misuse user data.

Facebook’s bug bounty program will expand so that people can also report to us if they find misuses of data by app developers,” said Ime Archibong, VP of Partnerships at Facebook. “We are beginning work on this and will have more details as we finalize the program updates in the coming weeks.”

The expanded bug bounty program rules are only one of the many other measures Facebook announced this week.

Facebook pauses app reviews

The first move that Facebook made after the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out was to pause all third-party app reviews on the platform, pending new changes to app permissions to prevent any type of future user data misuse.

The company also announced that any app that will request access to a user’s Facebook friends list would also undergo a manual review during which Facebook engineers will decide if the app actually uses this data inside its code, hence is entitled to request this permission from the user, to begin with.

But Facebook isn’t done with changes.

“We will investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform in 2014 to reduce data access, and we are conducting a full audit of any app with suspicious activity,” Archibong added.

The Facebook VP says the social network will also inform all users who installed apps that misused their data. App developers will also be banned from the Facebook platform if any of their apps misused or shared user data.

Facebook will prevent unused apps from accessing user data

Facebook also plans to raise awareness and urge users to review what apps they’ve allowed to access their Facebook profile data.

But just in case users will be lazy, Facebook also said it would turn off an app’s access to user data if the user hasn’t used the app for the last three months.

All in all, Facebook is in damage mode right now, trying to right the ship before users start associating the brand with a loss of personal privacy and flock to other social networks.

Facebook faces FTC inquiry, Senate hearing

The company is in trouble, anyway. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced yesterday an official inquiry in Facebook’s privacy practices, while Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg was invited to testify in front of a US Senate Judiciary Committee on data privacy, along with Alpahbet (Google’s parent company) and Twitter’s CEOs.

Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out, the social network lost $70 billion in market value and lost countless of advertisers.

The Silicon Valley company is now hiring 11 policy managers (lobbyists) for its DC office in the hopes of avoiding crippling fines and/or legislation from US lawmakers.