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Facebook Restricts APIs, Admits Two Billion User Profiles Scraped

Will Facebook be able to regain the trust of users?

By April Slattery

Facebook has revised its security measures, deleting the ability to search for users by phone or email, after admitting on a conference call Wednesday that up to two billion users may have had their public profiles scraped.

It has also sharply reduced access by apps to its pages, groups and events APIs.

““Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped,” the company said in the call. “So we have now disabled this feature.”

The decision came as new figures from the company’s CTO Mike Schroepfer revealed in a blog post that the number impacted by “improper” sharing of their data with Cambridge Analytica has risen to 87 million users.

The company has made an attempt to regain the trust of users, incorporating new safety measures into the social media site. But is it enough?

“Facebook and other fast-growing technology companies are admitting that they have no idea if third party organisations are handling data as they should be,” Vincent Desmond, CEO of the Chartered Quality Institute said, in an emailed comment.

“There is a clear failure on behalf of data controllers, such as Facebook, to audit the way in which information is being used by third-party data processors. There is also a failure to put in place the quality assurance measures that would prevent these issues from occurring in the first place.”

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Research from Barracuda has revealed that 29% of users have amended their privacy settings following the scandal.

“ Unfortunately, data privacy is a lot like oral hygiene, everyone knows they should pay attention to it but in practice people tend to neglect it,” Craig Young from Tripwire told Computer Business Review by email. “Many Facebook users are naturally upset about this situation, but in the end the moral of the story here is that people need to be more considerate about what data they are sharing and with whom.”

From Monday 9th April, all Facebook users who retained their accounts will be provided with a link at the top of their news feed allowing them to see the applications in use and the information that has been shared.

The news of more users being affected furthers concerns regarding the future of Facebook, but what rings true throughout the scandal is cyber security and data privacy needs to be taken more seriously.

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