Social Media

Facebook goes after personality quizzes to fight data leaks


As part of its commitment to privacy and security and also stop data leaks, Facebook has announced that it is clamping down on personality quizzes on the platform.

According to a blog post by the company’s director of product management Eddie O’Neil, Facebook is updating its policies to include provisions that apps with minimal utility, such as personality quizzes, are not permitted on the platform. The update according to Eddie also clarifies that apps may not ask for data that doesn’t enrich the in-app, user experience.

Effective April 30, the Social Network also says it will be removing third-party developer access to a number of old APIs.

‘’ Existing apps using these APIs will no longer have access as of July 30, 2019. No new apps will have access to these APIs as of April 30, 2019.’’ the blog post said.

A list of APIs that will be removed from the platform can be found here.

In addition, Facebook says apps will also be restricted from asking data that doesn’t directly improve the in-app user experience.

Also as of April 25, Facebook says previously approved user permissions that a developer’s app has not used or accessed in the past 90 days may be considered expired.

‘’Access to expired permissions will be revoked. Going forward, we will periodically review, audit, and remove permissions that your app has not used. Developers can submit for App Review to re-gain access to expired permissions.’’

These new updates to the developers’ platform come more than a year after Facebook revealed that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had violated data privacy policies by harvesting data of as many as 87 million Facebook users without their consent. A move that forced Facebook to suspend the firm on its platform.  

The data was said to have been harvested through a quiz app called “thisisyourdigitallife,”. The app developed by Aleksandr Kogan, a University of Cambridge professor, offered a personality prediction, and billed itself on Facebook as “a research app used by psychologists.” Approximately 270,000 people downloaded the app. In so doing, they gave their consent for Kogan to access information such as the city they set on their profile, or content they had liked, as well as more limited information about friends who had their privacy settings set to allow it. Kogan had been paid by Cambridge Analytica to acquire the collected user information to create voter profiles for the Trump campaign during 2016 US presidential election.

Cambridge Analytica was also reportedly involved in Kenya’s politics since 2013, working for President Uhuru Kenyatta to help him win the elections.  Claims which the now-defunct data mining firm denied.

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I write about tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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