Facebook Halts New Chatbots Amid Data Concerns

Many Facebook users have been blissfully unaware of just how much of their data was being mined in order to facilitate their favorites app--and apps they barely knew existed. That all came to a crashing end when news broke that Cambridge Analytica had used data from over 50 million Facebook users to target voters for the Trump campaign for President. Facebook has been reeling since the news broke, scrambling to regain user trust. Now, the social media giant is announcing changes aimed at taking back control of user data--and one of those changes impacts the popular chatbot functions many brands have been putting to use.

In a blog post, Facebook’s vice president of partnerships, Ime Archibong, wrote, "We paused app review last week while we implement new changes to our platform." It seems like a fairly innocuous announcement--an obvious step, even--but imagine what that really means for brands that have built their audience on Facebook's rented land (or, worse yet, for brands who were getting ready to launch their chatbots and other apps). The post goes on to detail exactly what changes the platform will be implemented before allowing the app review process to proceed

Facebook will "investigate all apps that had access to large amounts of information before we changed our platform in 2014 to reduce data access, and we are conducting a full audit of any app with suspicious activity." It will inform users if an app is removed for data misuse, and encourage them to actively manage the apps they use. Additionally, Facebook says it will:

  • Require heightened terms for business-to-business applications: All developers that build applications for other businesses will need to comply with rigorous policies and terms, which we will share in the coming weeks.
  • Reward people who find vulnerabilities: Facebook’s bug bounty program will expand so that people can also report to us if they find misuses of data by app developers. We are beginning work on this and will have more details as we finalize the program updates in the coming weeks.

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