As part of its various efforts to avoid another Cambridge Analytica type situation, where Facebook user data is re-purposed for unintended means, Facebook has today announced that its Data Use Check-Up tool, which it began testing in April, will now be a required step for all developers using Facebook’s APIs.
As explained by Facebook:
“Today, we’re announcing the broad launch of Data Use Checkup. Through Data Use Checkup, developers will be asked to review the permissions they have access to and commit that their API access and data use comply with the Facebook Platform Terms and Developer Policies within 60 days or risk losing their API access.”
Of course, Facebook can’t definitively know, with absolute certainty, that the developers are actually sticking to their word on this, they can only go on what information the developers submit, but the Check Up gives Facebook some recourse in regards to revoking access or enforcing its rules with those that do violate its usage terms.
As noted, the Check Up is another response to the Cambridge Analytica debacle, in which CA had used personal data insights gleaned from Facebook’s APIs in order to formulate psychographic profiles of various populations. Cambridge Analytica then reportedly pitched these audience profiles to various governments as a means of manipulating voter messaging, and subsequently influencing behavior. How effective that approach actually is, or was, is unclear, but some reports suggest that CA’s methods did indeed sway the vote in several elections.
The case highlighted a significant flaw in Facebook’s API access process, and again, while Facebook can’t stop businesses extracting a level of information from Facebook permissions, it has put in stricter controls on such, with this Check Up tool providing another step to catch potential misuse.
Developers who manage many apps will be able to complete the Data Use Checkup for multiple apps at once.
“You can access this flow by going to your “My Apps” page in the App Dashboard. From there, you will see all apps for which you are an admin, be able to filter down to a subset, and complete Data Use Checkup in bulk.”
The application is obviously not related to regular Facebook users and businesses, but it’s worth noting the extra steps that Facebook is putting in place to protect user data, and how developers will need to reiterate their commitments over time.
You can read more about Facebook’s Data Usage Check Up tool here.