Update: This story has been updated to reflect CubeYou's statement that it was not involved with the Apply Magic Sauce quiz, which was labeled for academic use only. CubeYou disputes Facebook's statements to CNBC that the You Are What You Like quiz was approved only for academic research purposes. CubeYou also says that it has not shared individualized information about Facebook users with marketers.
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.
Facebook told CNBC that one earlier CubeYou app was approved for academic research only, and is investigating whether the company improperly misused information from this app for marketing purposes. 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. CubeYou has denied the apps were mislabeled or misused, and is seeking to be reinstated.
CubeYou, whose CEO denies any deception, sold data that had been collected by researchers working with the Psychometrics Lab at Cambridge University, similar to how Cambridge Analytica used information it obtained from other professors at the school for 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 Facebook had not discovered the apparent mislabeling of its quiz for academic use until CNBC pointed out the problem suggests the platform has little insight into or 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, Zuckerberg has claimed personal responsibility for the data privacy leaks, and the company has launched several initiatives to increase user control over their data.