Check out which companies benefited from Facebook’s data extension
When Facebook clamped down on access to users’ data, some companies were let off a little lighter than others, a newly published report has revealed. The company revealed – in response to US government questioning – that 61 companies had been granted a “temporary exemption” to a block on apps which accessed details about users’ friends.
What’s more, no less than 52 companies were authorised to tap Facebook’s data to “recreate Facebook-like experiences”, which, if recent news is anything to go by, doesn’t exactly sound like an asset.
The roster of companies awarded the special privileges by Zuckerberg’s ever-powerful firm was first apprehended by The Wall Street Journal, which published the list on 1 July. And what a list it is, including household names such as Nike and Spotify.
The scandal initially broke when it was revealed that Facebook was allowing third-party apps access to data about the friends of users who had signed up for apps. Pervasive to say the least. However, in early 2015, the Irish data commissioner waded in, securing a block to said access from 30 April that year.
It seems though, that for those with friends in high places, the rules do not apply; Serotek, a San Francisco-based company for visually impaired users, managed to procure an extra eight months access from Facebook. And it’s not alone: 60 other companies received shorter extensions, and many of them not half as noble as Serotek’s. As mentioned, Nike and Spotify feature prominently on the list, along with courier service UPS, car manufacturer Nissan and dating service Hinge. Nor is the list solely Western; Russian internet giant Mail.ru was awarded “extra time”, along with Israel-born and Chinese-owned casino-type game developer Playtika.
Another endeavour launched by the company was the scheme of sharing users’ personal data in order to foster “version of Facebook or Facebook features” in other companies’ hardware and software. This ostensibly symbiotic relationship, however, proved far from a victimless crime, with claims abounding that they may well breach privacy commitments made by Zuckerberg’s company to the public and to US watchdogs.
Among the above offenders are several telecommunications companies, including Orange, O2 and Virgin Mobile. Other firms granted extra time include:
- Warner Bros
And while the above no longer have quite so much access, the following are still provided with data from Facebook:
- Zing Mobile
Data-sharing has become the exploitative corporate scheme du jour, and with the kind of fluidity between boundaries, relationships and assets seen above, it’s not hard to see why. It’s like privacy whack-a-mole, each time Facebook apologises for morally dubious endeavour, another loophole or deal crops up in its place, with lawmakers scurrying to quash it before more damage is done. Although vigilantes and watchdogs alike are carefully watching Zuckerberg now, one has to wonder how much more of a bruising our online privacy can take before logging off becomes a one-way (read: permanent) route to freedom.