Facebook Denies Allegations that They Shared Personal Data to Tech Giants

Facebook made counter arguments against NYT report that claimed them to make deals with big companies that allowed them to access personal data without the users' explicit permission.
Jessica Miley

Facebook responded to the claims about sharing personal data with large tech companies with a statement on its website, denying accusations.

Facebook has denied any wrongdoing saying that users’ consent wasn’t needed for the partnerships because Facebook considered the partner's extensions of itself. 

In an emailed statement of Business Insider, Facebook director of privacy and public policy Steve Satterfield said: “Facebook's partners don't get to ignore people's privacy settings, and it's wrong to suggest that they do. Over the years, we've partnered with other companies so people can use Facebook on devices and platforms that we don't support ourselves. Unlike a game, streaming music service, or other third-party apps, which offer experiences that are independent of Facebook, these partners can only offer specific Facebook features and are unable to use information for independent purposes.

New York Times reported that Facebook shared personal data without users' consent

According to the NYT report, big-name firms like Netflix and Spotify were given permission to access the data of millions of users a month. 

Reporters from the NYT interviewed former employees from Facebook and its partners and discovered that users were never informed of the access to their data nor given the option to opt out.

According to internal Facebook documents, the company had developed a tool that enabled turning access to private data on and off. 

This could happen even if the user was disabled data sharing. Facebook gave this premium access to data to over 150 companies as part of bilateral deals that allows the firms to go around the social media’s updated privacy rules.

The amount of access the companies had is staggering. Sony, Microsoft, and Amazon were reportedly allowed to view a users contacts while other major brands like Spotify, Netflix and the Royal Bank of Canada, were able to read, write and delete users’ private messages. 

Facebook made a deal with Russian search giant Yandex. "The deals, the oldest of which dates to 2010, were all active in 2017," The Times reported. "Some were still in effect this year." 

It has been a horrendous year for Facebook, kicking off with the revelations that 87 million users' data was accessed by the UK data firm Cambridge Analytica, without proper user consent.

It has also been subject to allegations of perpetuating violence in Myanmar and accused of supporting child bride auctioneering.

This story will be followed by Interesting Engineering.

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