According to a report by The New York Times on Tuesday, social media giant Facebook gave “intrusive access” to big tech companies by sharing the data of its 2.2 billion users, reneging on rules agreed upon with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
The Times interviewed more than 60 people including former employees of Facebook and its partners, former government officials and privacy advocates. The publication also reviewed more than 270 pages of internal documents which revealed the extent of Facebook’s deals with partners and how they would distribute data to various channels.
As of 2017, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Amazon, Yahoo, Chinese company Huawei, Spotify, Netflix and the Royal Bank of Canada are among the 150 companies that made deals with Facebook for user data without permission of individuals. Spokespersons for these companies deny the charge, saying they used the data appropriately but declined to share exactly how the data was used. Some deals are still in effect.
Microsoft’s Bing search engine was able to see almost all Facebook users’ friends without their permission, according to the documents.
Facebook allowed Netflix and Spotify to read users’ private messages, without consent.
Amazon was permitted to obtain Facebook users’ names and contact information through their friends. The social network allowed Yahoo to view friends’ posts as recently as the summer of 2018 despite Facebook vowing to implement stricter privacy controls during congressional hearings in September.
Facebook acknowledged it had allowed certain companies more access to user data than previously disclosed. The documents show Facebook circumvented privacy rules to further its own interests.
Besieged with scandals, in March it was revealed that a political consulting firm, Cambridge Analytica, “improperly used Facebook data” to help Donald Trump get elected during the 2016 presidential campaign.
In response, CEO Mark Zuckerberg assured the public Facebook users “have complete control” over their data and how it is used.
“This is just giving third parties permission to harvest data without you being informed of it or giving consent to it,” said David Vladeck, former head of the FTC’s Consumer Protection Bureau.
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