Tags: Cybersecurity | facebook | big tech | privacy | data | sharing

NY Times: Facebook Quietly Shared User Data, Messages

facebook application icon logo on a cell phone
(Matt Rourke/AP)

By    |   Tuesday, 18 December 2018 10:50 PM

Multiple tech companies had access to Facebook users' data in recent years, a revelation uncovered by The New York Times.

The Times published a detailed report about the practice Tuesday night, which gave companies like Netflix, Microsoft, Spotify, Pandora, Amazon, and others access to users' data, friend lists, and in some cases even private messages.

Facebook's effort to share its data with partners in the tech industry was designed to help everyone involved: Facebook picked up more users by tools such as its "People You May Know" feature, while other companies benefitted by rolling out products based on the data it was able to access.

The Bing search engine owned by Microsoft was able to see most Facebook users' friends without any consent. Netflix, Spotify, and the Royal Bank of Canada could read, write, and even delete private messages to help them tailor their product offerings and target customers.

"Over the years we have tried various ways to make Netflix more social. One example of this was a feature we launched in 2014 that enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix," a Netflix spokesperson told Newsmax. "It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015. At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so."​

According to the Times, more than 150 companies benefitted from various levels of access given to them by Facebook.

A Facebook spokesperson told the Times it had not found any evidence the companies who had access to user data abused it in any way. The social media giant never sold the data and instead shared it with companies with which it entered into partnership agreements. Many details about the agreements remained secret.

The oldest deal listed in the documents reviewed by the Times was signed in 2010. All of them were active in 2017 and some carried into 2018.

Facebook has been burdened with several scandals in recent years pertaining to data sharing, election interference carried out by Russia, silencing conservatives, and general concerns about the privacy of its users.

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In a revelation uncovered by The New York Times, multiple tech companies had access to Facebook users' data in recent years.
facebook, big tech, privacy, data, sharing
Tuesday, 18 December 2018 10:50 PM
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