Facebook Documents That Show How it Used Customer Data for Leverage Released

Reams of Facebook documents that show the company used customer data to favor some partners over others was just released.

Facebook is under fire again after NBC News released a trove of documents that depicts a CEO and an executive team determined to control the market using customers' data to gain leverage. 

NBC News obtained about 7,000 documents including 4,000 internal Facebook emails, webchats, notes, presentations and spreadsheets, and 1,200 pages that it said were marked "highly confidential," back in April and is now releasing them for the public to scour over.

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Documents paint Facebook CEO in a questionable light 

Much of the documents were from 2011 through 2015 and show how Zuckerberg, the board and management team came up with ways to use the data of Facebook user's as leverage with partners.

For example, NBC News said the documents show Facebook would give partners special access to data and deny rivals the same access. Amazon got access to special data because it ran ads on FaceBook. MessageMe, a messaging app that was gaining on Facebook's What's App lost access to data because it became a competitive threat, noted the report. 

The documents also reveal Facebook plotted to say publicly the moves were designed to protect users' data not bury competitors. 

Documents stem from old lawsuit 

The documents stem from  Six4Three v. Facebook, an old lawsuit against Facebook running its course in state court in San Mateo County, California as well as internal communications related to the lawsuit. They include things like dispositions from Facebook employees and witnesses.

The authenticity of the documents have not been questioned although Facebook has contended Six4Three, which makes the Pikinis app that led to the suit, "cherry-picked" the documents and that it doesn't present all the facts. 

"The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context. We still stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015 to prevent people from sharing their friends' information with developers like the creators of Pikinis," Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook told NBC News back in April.  It did not comment on the new report. 

Facebook facing scrutiny 

Six4Three sued Facebook in 2015 after Facebook said it would shut off access to some of its user data. Pikinis, needed the data to let users find Facebook photos of friends in bathing suits. In the lawsuit Six4Three said that caused it to go under. 

The latest report from NBC News comes amid a probe of Facebook's practices by 47 attorney generals, led by New York AG Letitia James. Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission, which recently fined Facebook a record $5 billion, is continuing to scrutinize the social media giant. 

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