We initially identified apps for investigation based on how many users they had and how much data they could access. Now, we also identify apps based on signals associated with an app’s potential to abuse our policies. Where we have concerns, we conduct a more intensive examination. This includes a background investigation of the developer and a technical analysis of the app’s activity on the platform. Depending on the results, a range of actions could be taken from requiring developers to submit to in-depth questioning, to conducting inspections or banning an app from the platform.
Our App Developer Investigation is by no means finished. But there is meaningful progress to report so far. To date, this investigation has addressed millions of apps. Of those, tens of thousands have been suspended for a variety of reasons while we continue to investigate.
It is important to understand that the apps that have been suspended are associated with about 400 developers. This is not necessarily an indication that these apps were posing a threat to people. Many were not live but were still in their testing phase when we suspended them. It is not unusual for developers to have multiple test apps that never get rolled out. And in many cases, the developers did not respond to our request for information so we suspended them, honoring our commitment to take action.
In a few cases, we have banned apps completely. That can happen for any number of reasons including inappropriately sharing data obtained from us, making data publicly available without protecting people’s identity or something else that was in clear violation of our policies. We have not confirmed other instances of misuse to date other than those we have already notified the public about, but our investigation is not yet complete. We have been in touch with regulators and policymakers on these issues. We’ll continue working with them as our investigation continues.
Which basically means there were loads of and loads more apps harvesting data they shouldn’t have had access to.