Facebook Gave Microsoft, Amazon, Netflix Unrestricted Access To User Data

20 December, 2018, 09:28 | Author: Corey Lynch
  • Damian Collins chair of the Digital Culture Media and Sport committee

It also let Microsoft's Bing search engine see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent, according to the Times, which cited hundreds of internal documents.

In a statement published on its website on Wednesday, Facebook said its partnerships or features did not give companies access to information without people's permission.

These companies are not the only ones with broad access to user data.

The whole debacle is comparable to the technical confusion that enabled Cambridge Analytica to collect data about Facebook user's friends without consent.

The Times late Tuesday reported that some 150 companies - including powerful partners like Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, and Spotify - could access detailed information about Facebook users, including messages and data about their friends.

It said this was so people could log in to services such as Spotify with their Facebook account and then send messages through the Spotify app.

Speaking of money, unfortunately for Facebook's investors, this PR nightmare is having a very real (negative) impact on the company's bottom line. Specifically, Facebook could acquire more users from its partners through third-party integrations adding new features to its product, and in return partners could access private Facebook data, eschewing Facebook's privacy rules and what it had promised users.

The personal information of Facebook's 2.2 billion users was unknowingly put to work for Microsoft's Bing search engine, for example, which could see the names of almost all Facebook user's friends without consent.




The partnerships allowed Facebook to grow, and other companies - from tech, to retail, to entertainment - could access certain data.

The social network said it shut down almost all of these partnerships over the past several months, except those with Apple and Amazon, which people continue to find useful and which are covered by active contracts.

Microsoft said it took steps to ensure that Facebook data wasn't used to create profiles for advertising or personalization purposes.

However, a Royal Bank of Canada spokesman denied having any such access which allowed it to read or delete users' private messages. Some, the Times notes, were still in effect this year.

Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook, said in a statement to The Post that the partnerships do not violate their users' privacy.

"At no time did we access people's private messages on Facebook or ask for the ability to do so", Netflix said in an emailed statement.

More troubling to observers, however, was any sense that Facebook gave third parties deep access to user data without properly informing users and gaining permission.

The NYT report also sheds light on how Facebook shared data with over 60 manufacturers of mobile devices, with Apple being one of the most notable examples. Facebook has been battered in the markets this year as the data privacy scandal unfolded. Facebook has said there is no evidence that data was used or misused, but such assurances aren't worth much in the current climate.

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