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US Judge Orders Facebook to Disclose Malicious Apps’ Data: Report

The social networking giant found that the apps -- primarily social media management and video streaming apps -- retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface)

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Social Media, Facebook, Authenticity, Posts
The social media application, Facebook is displayed on Apple's App Store, July 30, 2019. VOA

As part of a probe ordered in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data scandal involving 87 million users, a US judge has ordered Facebook to hand over data of thousands of apps that violated its user privacy.

Facebook admitted last year that it suspended “tens of thousands” of apps for possible privacy violations.

A Massachusetts judge rejected the social networking giant’s attempts to withhold the key details from state investigators, The Washington Post said in a report on Friday.

“We are disappointed that the Massachusetts Attorney General and the Court didn’t fully consider our arguments on well-established law. We are reviewing our options, including appeal,” a Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone was quoted as saying in the report.

Maura Healey, the Democratic Attorney General of Massachusetts, said: “We are pleased that the Court ordered Facebook to tell our office which other app developers may have engaged in conduct like Cambridge Analytica.”

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FILE – Attendees walk past a Facebook logo during Facebook Inc’s F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, United States. VOA

The state of Massachusetts launched the probe last September after Facebook admitted that it had suspended “tens of thousands” of apps on its platform as a result of its review on privacy practices launched following the scandal involving Cambridge Analytica.

The review, launched in 2018, followed revelations that the political consultancy hijacked personal data on millions of Facebook users and included attorneys, external investigators, data scientists, engineers, policy specialists and others, according to a Facebook statement.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal resulted in a record-breaking, $5 billion fine for Facebook from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

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In November 2019, Facebook revealed that at least 100 app developers may have accessed Facebook users’ data for months, confirming that at least 11 partners “accessed group members’ information in the last 60 days”.

The social networking giant found that the apps — primarily social media management and video streaming apps — retained access to group member information, like names and profile pictures in connection with group activity, from the Groups API (application programming interface). (IANS)

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Facebook Files Lawsuit Against Data Analytics Firm For Using User’s Data

Facebook sues data analytics firm for harvesting users' data

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Facebook has filed a federal lawsuit in California court against New Jersey-based data analytics firm OneAudience for secretly harvesting its users' data. Pixabay

Stung by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has filed a federal lawsuit in California court against New Jersey-based data analytics firm OneAudience for secretly harvesting its users’ data.

According to the lawsuit, OneAudience improperly accessed and collected user data from Facebook and other social media companies by paying App developers to install a malicious Software Development Kit (SDK) in their apps.

“After a user installed one of these apps on their device, the malicious SDK enabled OneAudience to collect information about the user from their device and their Facebook, Google, or Twitter accounts, in instances where the user logged into the app using those accounts,” read the lawsuit. Security researchers first flagged OneAudience’s behaviour to Facebook as part of its data abuse bounty programme.

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According to the lawsuit, OneAudience improperly accessed and collected user data from Facebook and other social media companies. Pixabay

Facebook, and other affected companies, then took enforcement measures against OneAudience.

“Facebook’s measures included disabling apps, sending the company a cease and desist letter, and requesting their participation in an audit, as required by our policies. OneAudience declined to cooperate,” said Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation. “This is the latest in our efforts to protect people and increase accountability of those who abuse the technology industry and users,” she added.

In November last year, Facebook and Twitter admitted that data of hundreds of users was improperly accessed by some third-party apps on Google Play Store as they logged into those apps.

Security researchers discovered that the One Audience and Mobiburn software development kits (SDK) provided access to users’ data, including email addresses, usernames, and recent tweets, on both the platforms.

Twitter and Facebook said they will notify those whose information was likely shared through apps.

Facebook has sued several third-party platforms in the recent past for scrapping users’ data, including Israeli surveillance vendor NSO Group that sells malicious software Pegasus to government agencies.

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“Through these lawsuits, we will continue sending a message to people trying to abuse our services that Facebook is serious about enforcing our policies, including requiring developers to cooperate with us during an investigation, and advance the state of the law when it comes to data misuse and privacy,” said the company. (IANS)