Facebook announces plans to restrict access to users' data

After it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica had shared the Facebook information of up to 87 million users, the social networking giant is working in overtime to rebuild trust with its users and has revealed new restrictions to improve the protection of users’ data.

In a statement released on their website yesterday Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Facebook said: “Two weeks ago we promised to take a hard look at the information apps can use when you connect them to Facebook as well as other data practices.

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“Today, we want to update you on the changes we’re making to better protect your Facebook information. We expect to make more changes over the coming months — and will keep you updated on our progress.”

The new data protection changes are now in operation and largely affect apps which run alongside the Facebook system.

Here is an overview of what Facebook has claimed it will do to better protect users’ privacy and data:

Call and Text History

Facebook has said it will delete all logs older than one year.

Data Providers and Partner Categories

Partner Categories, which lets third-party data providers offer their targeting directly on Facebook, has now been shut down.

App Controls

From 9 April Facebook will show a list of apps at the top of the newsfeed so users can see what apps they use and the information they are sharing with them. Facebook has also announced as part of the new app control process they will inform each person who has had their data shared with Cambridge Analytica.

Search and Account Recovery

People will no longer be able to enter another person’s phone number or email address into Facebook search to help find them.

Instagram Platform API

Changes to the way Instagram (owned by Facebook) interacts with third parties.

Events API

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Apps will no longer may be able to access the guest list or posts on an event wall.

Groups API

Third parties using the Groups API will need Facebook and admin approval before accessing a group. They will also have restricted access to the groups and have no access to members’ personal information within the group. The apps will also no longer be able to access the members list of a group.

Pages API

Any app could use the Pages API application to access unnecessary data on Facebook pages. The new restrictions will mean apps have to be approved by Facebook first and prove they are providing “useful services to our community”.

Tighter review process

Facebook is now tightening its review process and will now need to approve all apps that request access to information such as check-ins, likes, photos, posts, videos, events and groups. Apps will now need to meet “strict requirements” before they can access data. Facebook has also said it will no longer allow apps to ask for access to personal details like religious or political views, relationship status and details, custom friends lists, education and work history, fitness activity, book reading activity, music listening activity, news reading, video watch activity, and games activity.

Developer’s will also lose the ability to request data that has been shared with them if it appears the user has not used the app in the last three months.