Facebook Disables Apps, to Beef Up Security

Facebook Disables Apps, to Beef Up Security

Facebook shut down a large number of third-party applications, as the company looks to solidify its platform and increase its security measures following a plague of cyber-attacks worldwide.

The Palo Alto, Calif.-based company’s law enforcement system responded to an influx of spam complaints, and disabled several applications. The apps ranged from lower-level applications with small number of daily users to several larger apps like Goodreads, Photo Effect and Social Interview.

Facebook engineers said its new security system is designed to give spam reports more weight.

“We turned on a new enforcement system yesterday that took user feedback much more heavily into account,” the company said in a blog post. “This resulted in a number of applications with high negative user feedback being disabled or having certain features disabled.”

People complained the apps excessively posted on users’ walls and news feeds, prompting Facebook to disable them.

“The numbers were high enough to cause a real loss of trust in applications, which can impact the entire platform,” the company said. “Where we have failed is not providing enough feedback about negative engagement metrics to developers before needing to take this action.”

These new security measures may be linked to Facebook’s “Project Spartan” mobile venture. Project Spartan, an optimized website for Apple’s Safari browsers, allows Facebook to create an app that runs through the Internet, rather than through the App Store.

By taking this route, Facebook bypasses Apple’s strict control of its platform. The company, which hopes to attract customers to use the iOS-optimized website, is reportedly solidify its platform before it releases its own applications that run exclusively through Project Spartan, rather than Apple’s App Store.

Facebook’s increase in security measures may also be a response to the global hacking epidemic of the past two months. Hacker groups LulzSec and Anonymous have breached companies like Sony, Nintendo, Sega and Fox News, while also gaining access to government agencies like the Senate, NATO and the CIA.

Facebook, with over 750 million users, may be a prime target for these malicious groups.

The social networking giant has taken steps to beef up its security. In April, Facebook unveiled new tools designed to counter security issues and misbehavior like online bullying. It also instituted “social reporting,” which allows users to notify the site of offensive photos and wall posts, including profiles, pages and groups.

The following month, the website signed a deal with “Web of Trust,” a Finnish startup company that scores website safety. The service, which rates websites based on user reviews, calculates a link’s score, advising users whether or not it is safe continue to the website.

Disabling apps may help Facebook pursue Project Spartan, or help prevent it from being the next target of a major cyber-attack.

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