Published: Thu, December 20, 2018
Money | By Ethel Goodwin

Facebook Reportedly Gave Tech Companies Access to User Data Beyond Disclosures

Facebook Reportedly Gave Tech Companies Access to User Data Beyond Disclosures

"None of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC", Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs, said in a blog post.

Facebook shares fell less than 2 percent in NY 11:32 a.m. Wednesday to $140.68 even as other major tech stocks generally traded higher.

Rising pressure: Another day, another Facebook scandal.

We're pretty sure readers will be aware that the Zuckerborg snaffled data from partners like Yahoo! to feed its often creepy friend-recommendation tool.

How lawmakers and users will respond to the latest revelation is yet to be seen.

For a start, it looks bad. Facebook did admit it had not been vigilant about managing the partnerships, and that some companies were able to continue accessing data despite the features that required it falling out of use.

In all, the report says, more than 150 companies benefited from Facebook's data-sharing practices. "They may not be letting people take it away by the bucket-load, but they do reward companies with access to data that others are denied, if they place a high value on the business they do together".

"The deals, the oldest of which date to 2010, were all active in 2017", The Times reported.

Although Zuck's biz has countered that all of the deals were above board, its "nothing to see here" tone fails to distinguish between different partnerships.

Still, Facebook executives have acknowledged missteps during the past year.

According to the NYT report, Facebook offered these companies access to everything from friends lists to private messages, even after it claimed it no longer offered such access to anyone. Satterfield also insisted that the agreements don't violate a consent agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission forbade Facebook from sharing user data without permission. According to the Times, Facebook also utilized personal data shared by third party companies to fuel its controversial "people you may know" feature. Former FTC staffers quoted in the New York Times were certainly sceptical. I've written before that the open data sharing that made the internet useful - for example, by knitting together your Gmail account with an online file storage service so you can email a document to a colleague - helped make our lives easier but also let our digital information loose in a way that most people didn't understand, let alone agree to with eyes wide open. That's good, but it doesn't absolve Facebook of blame here.

Representatives for Spotify and Netflix told the Times that they were "unaware of the broad powers Facebook had granted them", while a Royal Bank of Canada spokesperson disputed that the bank had such access.

Facepalm: It seems the Cambridge Analytica incident isn't the only scandal Facebook will have to contend with. But assuming there's even a grain of truth to them, it implies Facebook preemptively handed a metaphorical keyring to large partner companies without even being asked to do so, in the interests of expanding its own network of information.

Facebook has already been called before lawmakers in the USA and elsewhere to defend its data policies since news broke this year on the misuse of personal data in 2016 by Cambridge Analytica, a British consultancy working on Donald Trump's campaign.

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