Facebook Accused of Giving Users' Personal Data To Every Major Device Maker

Facebook Accused of Giving Users' Personal Data To Every Major Device Maker

The agreements allowed the social media company expand its reach and let the phone makers offer customers popular Facebook features. It's laughable for Facebook to now say it has nodded its head in agreement when the newspaper questioned the company's control over user data.

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.

In addition, it said, its research showed that some device makers "could retrieve personal information even from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing". That settlement followed complaints from users that Facebook wasn't allowing them to keep their information on the social network private-Facebook promised to get consent from users before sharing their data with third parties, and to avoid making deceptive claims about its privacy practices.

Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, responded to The Times' article with a blog post titled, "Why We Disagree with The New York Times".

But - if that's true - why did it not also terminate these contracts with device manufacturers that gave companies the ability to do the exact same thing as what Cambridge Analytica was doing?

"It's worrying that so many companies had access to this data, particularly in light of security and privacy concerns", said Michael Veale, a technology policy expert at University College London.

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It defended its use of software tools called application programming interfaces (APIs), which it said had been developed to create "Facebook-like experiences" on smartphones at a time before use of its own mobile apps became commonplace.

In March, Facebook came under heavy fire in the wake of news that Cambridge Analytica had misused user data in the lead-up to the USA presidential election. And our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built. The publication says Facebook has been sharing information about users with major phone makers-including Apple, Microsoft, and Samsung-for over a decade. "We are not aware of any abuse by these companies".

Facebook began shutting down use of the APIs in April as part of its response to the Cambridge Analytica row.

But Facebook rejected claims that friends' data was available to device makers without a users' consent. "It's why we announced in April that we're winding down access to them", the company wrote. Twenty-two of the partnerships have since ended, it said.

"This was flagged internally as a privacy issue", Sandy Parakilas, who then led Facebook's privacy compliance, told The Times. Private APIs allowed companies like Amazon, Apple, and Blackberry to access user data, including "relationship status, political leanings, and events they planned to attend". "It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook's testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled". Usually collected when users log into their accounts through the Facebook app.

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