Facebook let corporate partners have intimate access to users’ data for years: Report

December 19, 2018

Facebook gave its corporate partners access to users’ personal data for years as special arrangements, The New York Times reported late Tuesday night.

The newspaper obtained hundreds of documents from Facebook that detailed the “data partnerships” it built over the years and the intimate level of access to users’ information without their consent that was granted by the social media company.

Major companies such as Microsoft’s Bing search engine, Amazon and Yahoo were among those with access with the sensitive information, which included allowing Amazon to get contact information through friends’ connections. Netflix and Spotify even had access to users’ private messages.

In some cases, such as allowing outside companies to see contact information through friend connections, Facebook previously claimed to be stopping.

In all, The Times found that more than 150 companies, mostly in the tech industry but including retailers and media, had access and applied for information on hundreds of millions of users each month.

Some deals reach back to 2010, The Times noted, and all were active in 2017.

Steve Satterfield, the company’s director of privacy and public policy, said Facebook, which came under investigation from the Federal Trade Commission in March, did not violate the FTC agreement.

He argued the company considered the data partnerships as part of its own operation, providers that allowed for more engagements on the platform.

All companies with access to data had to comply with Facebook policies, and the company has seen no evidence of partners violating that agreement, Mr. Satterfield said.

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