Facebook Suspends Apps, Removes its Own From Apple Store

Facebook has suspended 400 apps, about double the number it previously said it removed due to “concerns around the developers who built them or how the information people chose to share with the app may have been used.” The company is now investigating these apps and developers. Elsewhere, after Apple ruled that Facebook’s data-security app violated its data collection policies, Facebook pulled the app from the store. Facebook used the app to track the competition and learn more about new product categories.

Bloomberg reports that Facebook issued a “full ban” on one app, myPersonality, “because the app didn’t cooperate with an audit and … it’s clear that they shared information with researchers as well as companies with only limited protections in place.” Four million people took the app’s personality quiz, and “will be notified via their Facebook profiles.” The app was mainly active before 2012, the company added.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which compromised as many as 85 million Facebook users’ data, “Facebook is ramping up privacy standards, especially with regard to developer relationships.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that, with regard to Facebook pulling its app called Onavo Protect from Apple’s app store, “Apple’s decision widens the schism between the two tech giants over privacy and is a blow to Facebook.” The app, a free download in the Apple store for years, allows users “to create a virtual private network that redirects Internet traffic to a private server managed by Facebook” and “alerts users when they visit potentially malicious sites.” But the app also lets Facebook collect and analyze user activity, which Apple now says violates its new privacy rules announced in June to “limit data collection by app developers.”

Sources say that, in a cordial meeting, Apple suggested Facebook take down the app voluntarily, and Facebook agreed.

Those who have the app will still be able to use it, but Facebook won’t be able to update it. The app will continue to be available on Android devices.

Apple has spent the summer “removing apps that aren’t in compliance with its new rules,” which make it clear that “apps shouldn’t collect information about other apps installed on a user’s device for analysis or marketing.” Several months ago, Apple chief executive Tim Cook compared his company’s privacy practices with Facebook’s, saying his was “more respectful of users’ privacy,” a remark that Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg called “extremely glib.”

Since Facebook bought Israeli mobile analytics firm Onavo in 2013, it has “used the company’s app to build an internal database to track rivals, including young startups that performed unusually well,” and “helped shape Facebook’s product and acquisition strategy, paving the way for its 2014 purchase of WhatsApp and push into live video in 2016, among other efforts.”