Economy

Facebook Shared User Data With Companies, Despite Prior Claims

Facebook Shared User Data With Companies, Despite Prior Claims”

The secret access Facebook granted to this limited group of companies came after the tech giant claimed in 2015 that it had stopped granting access to such a broad range of user data.

Facebook engaged in special deals with specific companies to allow them access to user's friends data, a new report has revealed. The agreements gave those companies access to users' phone numbers and information on their friends on the social network.

In its confirmation of the story, Facebook acknowledged the information was given to a "small number" of companies including RBC Capital Markets and Nissan Motor Co., advertisers and other business partners.

Internally called "whitelists", these secretive deals "allowed certain companies to access additional information about a user's Facebook friends", the Journal reported, citing court documents and anonymous Facebook officials.

In a tweet responding to the allegations, the company suggested the report had "confused" the timeline of these extensions, after partners were informed in 2014 of a one-year period before access would be cut-off in 2015. "But other than that, things were shut down". The company also says it is phasing out the data-sharing deals that it has struck with device makers dating back to 2007. In April, Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress after Facebook disclosed, following news reports, that as many as 87 million users' data was sold to a political ad targeting firm during the 2016 US presidential election without the users' consent.

However, it is unclear how many companies agreed to the whitelists and for exactly how long.

Facebook's deals with Huawei drew special scrutiny, as heads of CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of USA national intelligence in February warned Americans from using Huawei devices because they were concerned the company shared data with the Chinese government.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the Cambridge Analytica breach violated a 2011 consent decree barred it from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers' personal information.

That didn't stop Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan from stealing data from 87 million users through a personality quiz app and sharing it with Cambridge Analytica.



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