Facebook Let Netflix and Spotify Read Users' Private Messages

Facebook Let Netflix and Spotify Read Users' Private Messages

Facebook Let Netflix and Spotify Read Users' Private Messages

Facebook gave tech companies like Amazon, Spotify, and Microsoft more access to user data than the company had previously disclosed.

Large firms, including Netflix and Spotify, were given free rein to suck up data of millions of users a month, according to the NYT which reviewed over 270 pages of internal Facebook documents.

According to Facebook director of privacy and public policy Steve Satterfield, none of the partnerships violated users' privacy or FTC regulations, and the companies were required to abide by Facebook policies. The New York Times said Amazon could find users' names and contact information via their friends; that Bing could "see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent"; that Netflix and Spotify could read users' private messages; and that Yahoo could "view streams of friends' posts" even though Facebook publicly said it had ended that practice. Spotify, Netflix and the Royal Bank of Canada, for instance, were granted access to read, write and delete private messages on the Facebook platform.

While Microsoft and Yahoo got to see friends lists, others like Spotify and Netflix actually got to see inside users' messages.

The Times said the documents and interviews "raise questions about whether Facebook ran afoul of a 2011 consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that barred the social network from sharing user data without explicit permission".

Facebook is involved in yet another scandal, after revelations that its data-sharing partnerships with numerous companies gave it access to private messages. Since the Cambridge Analytica affair, we've seen nearly daily damaging revelations about Facebook's practices (here's a handy time line). The most notable was the Cambridge Analytica scandal that inspired lawmakers around the world to finally scrutinize Facebook's handling of approximately 2.2 billion people's personal information.

Every corporate partner that integrated Facebook data into its online products helped drive the platform's expansion, bringing in new users, spurring them to spend more time on Facebook and driving up advertising revenue.

NYT digs deeper into Facebook's creepy data sharing excesses

It seems that time and time again this year, Facebook has taken a battering when it comes to user trust and its reputation as a social media platform.

Facebook has published a blog post, in which it responds to the allegations and defends its practices.

However, the report said it was unclear how closely the partners were monitored or what audits they were subjected to, with BlackBerry and Yandex officials quoted as saying they had never been audited for deals struck in 2010.

A Facebook spokesperson told the New York Times it found no evidence of data abuse by its partners.

Facebook's partners don't get to ignore people's privacy settings, and it's wrong to suggest that they do. They'll ask for forgiveness and explain that user trust and privacy is the very foundation of the company.

Royal Bank of Canada is pushing back on a report that alleges the lender had access to private messages sent through Facebook, forcefully arguing that it never had such rights.

Papamiltiadis said, however, that "we recognize that we've needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information".


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