Quiz Apps Harvesting Data from Facebook Users

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Date Posted:
12 March 2019

In an interesting turn of events, Facebook is now suing two developers for data breaches

Malicious Quiz Apps
Facebook is suing Andrey Gorbachov and Gleb Sluchevsky over allegations that quiz apps produced by a company called ‘Web Sun Group’ have been illegally obtaining data from Facebook users. The data has been used to target Facebook users with ‘unauthorised’ advertisements.

The quizzes, with titles such as ‘what kind of person do people think you are?’ or ‘what animal are you?’ gained access to information ranging from names and profile pictures to private lists of friends, via the Facebook login system.

Facebook’s login is a fast and convenient way for users to log into apps across multiple platforms. In doing this, it enables connections between third-party apps and Facebook profiles. The hackers abused this Facebook feature in order to take control of the user’s internet browsers and gain access to private information stored on Facebook profiles.

Facebook Files a Complaint
Although the Facebook login should ensure that connections that are formed are secure, in this case, Facebook argues that users were falsely informed that the app would only obtain access to a very limited amount of information.

Facebook has revealed that approximately 63,000 browsers were compromised between 2016 and October 2018 because of these apps. According to court documents published online, this cost Facebook over £58,000 in damages.

Facebook filed a complaint last week against these developers, who are based in Ukraine. Facebook argues that they have violated Facebook policies as well as other US laws by operating malicious browser extensions intended to scrape Facebook and other social networking sites.

A spokesperson for Facebook has issued a statement saying that by filing this complaint, Facebook hopes to reinforce its commitment to protecting the integrity of the platform and to reiterate that this kind of behaviour is not tolerated.

The Outcome
The lawsuit filed by Facebook seeks monetary damages and a restraining order against the alleged hackers. The hackers were also suspended from Facebook in October 2018 when the scandal was revealed.

Have you ever filled out one of these Facebook quizzes? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at @Hyve!

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