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Facebook Denies Tech Firm Data Sharing Without Consent

05 June, 2018, 01:28 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Apple was among the companies that used device-integrated APIs to serve up a version of Facebook on its hardware but the deals are now under scrutiny

The Times' investigation reportedly found that since around 2007, dozens of tech and device-maker companies were granted broad access to collect data on Facebook users and their online "friends", including friends who had denied Facebook permission to share information with third parties.

Before now-ubiquitous apps standardised the social media experience on smartphones, some 60 device makers like Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Microsoft and Samsung worked with Facebook to adapt interfaces for the Facebook website to their own phones, the company said.

Archibong also said the data agreements allowed phone makers to offer Facebook features on their phones before app stores were popular.

The issue here is not that a Facebook user can access data about friends and friends-of-friends-it's that they're giving a non-Facebook company's software access to that information.

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal exposed how Facebook was selling access to your and your friends' data for the purposes of political engineering, the company promised that third-parties no longer had that capability. Facebook's rebuttal begins by saying it has mostly agreed with prior concerns the Times has raised "about the controls over Facebook information shared with" outside companies such as Cambridge Analytica.

'This was flagged internally as a privacy issue, ' in 2012 said Parakilas, who left Facebook that year and is now a harsh critic of the company.

In interviews to NYT, Facebook defended its data-sharing agreement and asserted that these are consistent with its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users. They report that some devices could get information such as religion, political preferences, or relationship status. Facebook views these partnerships as "extensions of Facebook" and says "they knew of no cases where the information had been misused".

Facebook says it also shared the data so that users of Apple, Samsung and other devices could get notifications, add friends and have the ability to like things online.


The Federal Trade Commission in March confirmed it was investigating Facebook privacy practices.

To test what data device-makers were able to see, a Times reporter signed into his Facebook account on a 2013 BlackBerry smartphone (it was important to use a device that wasn't subject to Facebook's 2014 privacy overhaul).

"We are not aware of any abuse by these companies", Facebook adds.

"What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent", Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the German lawmakers who questioned Facebook in April, told the paper. "These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform", Facebook vice president Ime Archibong told NYT.

Archibong said that the companies it partnered with had signed agreements that prevented people's Facebook information from being used for any objective other than to recreate Facebook-like experiences. During that testimony, Zuckerberg said that Facebook users could completely control their own data. So far, it's ended just 22.

The FTC declined an email request to comment for this story.

In its response to the Times article, Facebook says that with the current dominance of iOS and Android operating systems, it's been "winding down" access of APIs.

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