Facebook is suspending a data analytics firm called CubeYou from the platform after CNBC notified the company that CubeYou was collecting information about users through quizzes.
CubeYou misleadingly labeled its quizzes “for non-profit academic research,” then shared user information with marketers. The scenario is eerily similar to how Cambridge Analytica received unauthorized access to data from as many as 87 million Facebook user accounts to target political marketing.
The CubeYou discovery suggests that collecting data from quizzes and using it for marketing purposes was far from an isolated incident. Moreover, the fact that CubeYou was able to mislabel the purpose of the quizzes — and that Facebook did nothing to stop it until CNBC pointed out the problem — suggests the platform has little control over this activity.
Facebook, however, disputed the implication that it can’t exercise proper oversight over these types of apps, telling CNBC that it can’t control information that companies mislabel. Upon being notified of CubeYou’s alleged violations, Facebook said it would suspend all CubeYou’s apps until a further audit could be completed.
“These are serious claims and we have suspended CubeYou from Facebook while we investigate them,” Ime Archibong, Facebook vice president of product partnerships, said in a statement.
“If they refuse or fail our audit, their apps will be banned from Facebook. In addition, we will work with the UK ICO [Information Commissioner’s Office] to ask the University of Cambridge about the development of apps in general by its Psychometrics Centre given this case and the misuse by Kogan,” he said. Aleksander Kogan was the researcher who built the quiz used by Cambridge Analytica.
“We want to thank CNBC for bringing this case to our attention,” Archibong added.
The revelation comes as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg prepares to answer questions before Congress this week stemming from the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The Senate Commerce and Judiciary committees and the House Energy and Commerce Committee are expected to quiz him on what the site is doing to enhance user privacy, and prevent foreign actors from using Facebook to meddle in future elections.
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal erupted, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has claimed personal responsibility for the data privacy leaks, and the company has launched several initiatives to increase user control over their data.