Facebook granted Amazon, Netflix and Microsoft access to users’ personal data
Facebook has been dishing out access to its users’ personal data to tech companies like Amazon, Netflix, Microsoft and Spotify, a new report has revealed.
The firms with access were reportedly able to read, write and delete users’ private messages. Microsoft’s Bing search engine was also able to, at the behest of Facebook, view the names of almost all a given Facebook user’s friends without consent.
The report in question cites hundreds of internal documents, in addition to interviews with over 50 employees. It contends that Amazon was permitted by Facebook to obtain users’ personal information (names, contact details) through their friends.
Practices like these were ongoing until this year, with reports that Yahoo was able to view streams of friends posts up until the summer of 2018.
Facebook, for its part, denies wrongdoing. It concedes giving partner companies access to users’ private messages after users signed into Facebook through the partner company’s app. In other words, if you’ve signed into Facebook via Spotify’s app, then Spotify would have access to your private messages.
The company addressed the report in a blog post entitled “Let’s Clear Up a Few Things About Facebook’s Partners”, in which it established the parameters of its data sharing.
“To be clear: 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 (Federal Trade Commission)” Facebook clarified.
Partner companies maintain innocence, with spokespeople for Spotify and Netflix telling the New York Times that they were unaware of the scope of the powers Facebook had given them. Netflix maintained that it had only used said access to allow customers to spread the word about TV shows and movies to their friends.
The report is just the latest in a succession of PR disasters for the firm, whose entanglements with Cambridge Analytica landed Mark Zuckerberg in front of Congress this year. Not that it spawned anything productive, other than a smattering of cruel memes.