The New York Times found that Facebook has handed users’ private data to 60 device makers over the last decade, including Samsung, Microsoft, and Apple. The data was given under agreements to exchange friend’s data, a practice that infringes the Federal Trade Commission’s 2011 rules.
The Times found that Facebook gave user data to its “friends” without any explicit consent. The social media giant is currently under fire for sharing users’ personal data with a Russia-linked analytics firm called Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook’s CEO testified before a Senate committee about how his company is handling user data and met European lawmakers to address their concerns.
NYT journalist found that Facebook was sharing user data with device makers when he logged in to an old Blackberry device. On that handset, which he bought in 2013, he had 550 Facebook friends. An app dubbed “The Hub” told the reporter that it was able to retrieve ‘identifying info’ on 295,000 more users.
Blackberry told the Times that newer phones, powered by Android, can no longer access private channels like older handsets could.
Facebook’s response to the report was penned by its VP of Product Partnerships Ime Archibong.
Archibong explained that, in 2013, Facebook was still working with operating system makers and device makers to make the Facebook website compatible with their systems. The demand for the social media service was so high back then that Facebook was unable to offer a compatible version of the website for every OS and phone.
As a result, Facebook designed its own APIs that enabled device makers to create “Facebook-like experiences.” Facebook claims that 60 companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, HTC, and Samsung have used the APIs over the last decade.
Meanwhile, those companies signed agreements with Facebook that barred them from using users’ data for anything other than making the Facebook service available to their users. Facebook is unaware of any mishandling of the data.
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