After facing flak for its involvement in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook took certain steps to safeguard its users. One of the things that the company did was barring third-party apps from accessing sensitive data of the users of a group. Now, after three months, Facebook has re-allowed these apps into Groups, but now they need to go through a stricter human-reviewed approval process and will not have the access to the list of members and other sensitive data.
These third-party apps are accessible by admins through a new in-Facebook Groups apps browser that gives the platform control over discoverability. Apps can help admins better manage the group and offer members a more personalised experience. Previously, admins had to find Group management tools outside of the platform, use their Facebook accounts to give the app a nod to to access their Group’s data.
Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch about the development saying, “What you’re seeing today is related to changes we announced in April that require developers to go through an updated app review process in order to use the Groups API. As part of this, some developers who have gone through the review process are now able to access the Groups API.”
Till April, apps needed the permission of a group admin or member to access group content for closed groups, and the permission of an admin for secret groups. These apps helped admins post and respond to content in their groups. Facebook later changed these settings to make sure the users are better protected. Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Facebook posted in a blog that from April “all third-party apps using the Groups API will need approval from Facebook and an admin to ensure they benefit the group. Apps will no longer be able to access the member list of a group.”
The company also removed personal information, such as names and profile photos, attached to posts or comments that approved apps could access. Last month Facebook announced that it is testing paid subscription option with limited groups for supporting group admins in which users can pay for subscribing to some groups to support the admin.