Facebook admits it gave tech companies access to users' personal messages

20 December, 2018, 09:25 | Author: Sally Reid
  • Damian Collins chair of the Digital Culture Media and Sport committee

For Amazon, Facebook allowed the company to extract names and their contact information through their friends while Yahoo was allowed to view streams of friends' posts.

The company said these partners got access to messages but users "had to explicitly sign in to Facebook first" before using a partner's messaging feature.

Facebook has been under scrutiny since the revelation in March that consultancy Cambridge Analytica had misused Facebook user data in the run-up to the 2016 USA presidential election. It is noteworthy that Facebook users are allowed to hide their Friends' list from not only outsiders but also from those on their list.

The company's records describe data-sharing deals that benefited dozens of other companies by utilising personal data from Facebook users.

The report specifically alleges that multiple businesses were allowed to access the private Facebook messages of Canadian users.

Another spokeswoman told the Times that Facebook did not find evidence of abuse by the companies.

On the other hand, Facebook allowed Microsoft's search engine, Bing, to collect the names of "virtually all Facebook users' friends" without their consent.

Overall, there were some 150 third party companies that reached deals with Facebook, including automakers, entertainment sites and media organizations.

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The study says that there were 187 million engagements with users on Instagram , while there were 77 million on Facebook . The effort was urge them - African Americans and supporters of Bernie Sanders - to shun Hillary Clinton .

Amazon said its partnership with Facebook didn't violate its own privacy policy. With the privilege, Spotify and Netflix could read, write and delete users' private messages, and see all participants on a thread.

While some of the deals date back as far as 2010, the Times said they remained active as late as 2017 and some were still in effect this year. Second, people could have more social experiences - like seeing recommendations from their Facebook friends - on other popular apps and websites, like Netflix, The New York Times, Pandora and Spotify.

In particular, Facebook has been keen to emphasise that none of the agreements actually break a 2011 consent decree handed to it by the Federal Trade Commission, on the grounds that the partners were "service providers".

Netflix responded to the allegations in a tweet, saying, "Netflix never asked for, or accessed, anyone's private messages".

Facebook confirmed in a blog post that such data sharing occurred only after users logged in through a partner's platform.

Freedom From Facebook, a group which has previously called for the tech giant to be broken up, said the newest revelations should pressure the FTC to act, Fox News reports. We shut down instant personalisation, which powered Bing's features, in 2014 and we wound down our partnerships with device and platform companies months ago, following an announcement in April.

THE FACTS: As part of the settlement, Facebook is required to obtain people's "affirmative express consent" before making changes that override their privacy preferences. A Yahoo spokesman declined to discuss the partnership in detail but said the company did not use the information for advertising.


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