Facebook has landed itself into another controversy after its internal documents, obtained by The New York Times, show that the social network gave some of the world’s largest technology companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it disclosed.
According to the report, the records—generated in 2017—show that Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of all Facebook users’ friends without consent.
Another revelation, in The New York Times report, is that the social network enabled Apple to hide from Facebook users all indicators that its devices were asking for data. Records show that Apple also had access to the contact numbers and calendar data of people who had changed their account settings to disable sharing. This is particularly concerning considering that Apple has made privacy one of its big selling points in recent years.
Apple officials, however, said that they were not aware of Facebook granting its devices any special access.
Earlier this month, a UK parliamentary committee released internal Facebook documents showing that the social network has used user data as a competitive weapon.
Parliament’s media committee accused Facebook of cutting special deals with some app developers to give them more access to data, while icing out others.
The documents released by the committee cover the period from 2012 to 2015.
In a summary of key issues pertaining to the documents, the committee said Facebook “whitelisted,” or made exceptions for companies such as Airbnb and Netflix, that gave them continued access to users’ “friends” even after the tech giant announced changes in 2015 to end the practice.
Walt Mossberg quits Facebook
Tech journalist Walt Mossberg announced that he is quitting Facebook and Messenger. In a Twitter thread, he explained that he is doing this — after being on Facebook for nearly 12 years — because his values and the policies and actions of Facebook have diverged to the point where he is no longer comfortable on the platform.
Calling it a “personal decision”, he said that he is not trying to spark some “dump-Facebook movement”.
He also said, according to The Indian Express, that he may resume regular use if the company or the service changes significantly for the better.
Update: After this story was published, Netflix contacted HuffPost India with a statement on the data access from Facebook. The statement is reproduced below in full:
“Over the years we have tried various ways to make Netflix more social. One example of this was a feature we launched in 2014 that enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix. It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015. At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so.”
(With Associated Press inputs)