Facebook Again Botches a Data Crisis

Jun 05, 2018, 00:03

It said information such as photos was only accessible on devices if users had chosen to share the data with those friends.

The New York Times found that the social networking service concluded data-sharing partnerships with device making companies to expand its reach and let them offer their clients popular Facebook features such as messaging and address books.

The report raises questions over whether or not Facebook violated a 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that it would not override users privacy settings without first getting their expressed consent.

The agreements also gave device makers access to Facebook users' friends' data, without their approval, despite the company's insistence that it would not share the information, the report said. This was to the extent that some companies could retrieve data on a Facebook user's friends even when such sharing was thought to have been barred.

The agreements required the third-party companies to use the information only for the intended objective of integrating features into users' devices, Facebook says.

The post goes on to say that the partners signed agreements that prevented people's information from being used for any other goal than to recreated Facebook-like experiences, which had to be approved by Facebook's engineering teams.

If you're using both Facebook and, say, an Apple product, you probably have some inherent trust in both companies - moreso than I daresay most had in the developer of a Facebook quiz.

Amazon and Samsung declined to comment on whether they had access to Facebook user data through the APIs.

In a Sunday blog post, Facebook defended the practice.

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 US presidential election. "And our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built", Archibong said. Over the last decade, around 60 companies have used them - including many household names such as Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Microsoft and Samsung.

Apple said it has stopped using the APIs and that it used them to allow users to post pictures and other information without having to open the Facebook app.

Facebook, which came under attack early this year over British political consultant Cambridge Analytica's harvesting of personal data on 87 million Facebook users and their friends, did not deny the Times story but said it "disagreed" with the issues raised. "What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent", Winkelmeier-Becker told The New York Times. The company claimed that once it discovered Cambridge Analytica's transgression, it immediately took swift action to rectify the situation. "It's why we announced in April that we're winding down access to them", the company wrote.

According to Archibong, 22 of the partnerships have already ended. He was able to obtain information about 556 of his friends. A BlackBerry (bb) spokesperson told the paper that the Canadian firm "did not collect or mine the Facebook data of [its] customers".

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