STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

NYT: Facebook offered big tech firms more user data than previously revealed

Facebook offered more of its users' data to companies including Microsoft and Amazon than it has admitted, a...

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 4:33 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2018 4:33 AM

Facebook offered more of its users' data to companies including Microsoft and Amazon than it has admitted, according to a new report by The New York Times.

The Times reported late Tuesday that it obtained internal Facebook (FB) documents that show how the social media giant arranged to share data with more than 150 companies. The deals helped Facebook gain more users, according to the report, and its partners were able to add new features to their products while effectively avoiding Facebook's usual privacy rules.

Amazon.com Inc

Broadcasting industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Companies

Digital and streaming music

Digital privacy

Facebook

Internet and WWW

Internet broadcasting

Media industry

Microsoft

Music industry

New York Times Co

Social media

Streaming media

Technology

Newspapers

Publishing industry

Law and legal system

Privacy rights

Digital and streaming video

Movie and video industry

Netflix Incorporated

Digital security

Spotify

Many of the partnerships ended years ago, but the details reported by the Times are striking.

Amazon (AMZN) got access to Facebook users' names and contact information through their friends on the social network, according to the report, while Microsoft's (MSFT) search engine Bing was allowed to "see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent." Streaming services Netflix (NFLX) and Spotify (SPOT) had the "ability to read Facebook users' private messages," it said.

CNN has not independently viewed the internal documents obtained by the Times.

Despite assurances from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that people "have complete control" over who sees their content, The Times said the internal documents and interviews with 50 former Facebook employees indicated that the company still gave other firms access to user data.

The company's partnerships with Amazon and Apple (AAPL) are still continuing today.

The revelations come at a trying time for Facebook, which has faced a litany of criticism over how it handles user data. The social network said in April that data firm Cambridge Analytica may have harvested information on as many as 87 million users without their knowledge. In October, Facebook revealed that hackers gained access to the phone numbers and email addresses of almost 30 million of its users.

In response to the Times report, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, Steve Satterfield, said in a statement that its partners "don't get to ignore people's privacy settings."

Facebook has 'work to do' to regain trust

"Over the years, we've partnered with other companies so people can use Facebook on devices and platforms that we don't support ourselves," he said. "Unlike a game, streaming music service, or other third-party app, which offer experiences that are independent of Facebook, these partners can only offer specific Facebook features and are unable to use information for independent purposes."

Facebook knows it's "got work to do to regain people's trust," Satterfield added. "Partnerships are one area of focus and, as we've said, we're winding down the integration partnerships that were built to help people access Facebook."

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."

Satterfield said, the Times reported, that the 2011 FTC agreement "did not require the social network to secure users' consent before sharing data because Facebook considered the partners extensions of itself — service providers that allowed users to interact with their Facebook friends."

In a separate statement posted on Facebook's website, the company said it had not violated the FTC agreement.

"To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC," wrote Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs.

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

Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Apple and Spotify respond

An Amazon spokesman said in a statement to CNN that it uses the software interfaces "provided by Facebook in order to enable Facebook experiences for our products," such as giving "customers the option to sync Facebook contacts on an Amazon Tablet."

Amazon uses the information in accordance with its own privacy policy, he said.

Microsoft said that data supplied by Facebook stopped appearing in Bing search results after the contract between the two companies ended in February 2016.

"Throughout our engagement with Facebook, we respected all user preferences," Microsoft said in a statement.

Netflix said that it launched a feature in 2014 that "enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix," but that "at no time did we access people's private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so."

The feature "was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015," Netflix said in a statement.

An Apple spokesman referred CNN to a paragraph in the Times article citing Apple officials as saying they were unaware that Facebook had granted the company's devices any special access. Any shared data would remain on the devices and be available to anyone other than the users, according to Apple.

Spotify said in a statement that its integration with Facebook was designed to help users share and discover music.

"Previously, when users shared music from Spotify, they could add on text that was visible to Spotify," the statement said. "This has since been discontinued. We have no evidence that Spotify ever accessed users' private Facebook messages."

Most of the companies with which Facebook shared data under the arrangements were tech firms such as "online retailers and entertainment sites," according to the report, but they also included automakers and media organizations. The Times reported that it was one of those media groups.

Huntsville
Broken Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 84°
Florence
Broken Clouds
85° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 91°
Fayetteville
Scattered Clouds
84° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 90°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
80° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 84°
Scottsboro
Overcast
82° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 89°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 45263

Reported Deaths: 1007
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson5410152
Montgomery4158103
Mobile4129134
Tuscaloosa232142
Marshall172410
Madison14917
Lee141137
Shelby133423
Morgan11215
Walker97824
Elmore94314
Franklin89814
Baldwin8949
Dallas8919
Etowah75013
DeKalb7375
Chambers64227
Butler63428
Autauga61012
Tallapoosa60569
Russell5650
Houston5074
Unassigned50323
Limestone5010
Lauderdale4966
Lowndes47221
Cullman4594
Pike4375
Colbert4086
St. Clair4022
Escambia3966
Coffee3812
Calhoun3765
Covington3707
Bullock36910
Barbour3532
Talladega3177
Hale31421
Marengo31211
Dale2990
Wilcox2948
Sumter28512
Jackson2842
Clarke2776
Winston2633
Chilton2522
Blount2431
Monroe2392
Pickens2366
Marion23313
Conecuh2107
Randolph2099
Macon1999
Choctaw19512
Bibb1941
Greene1868
Perry1791
Henry1363
Crenshaw1253
Washington1117
Lawrence1100
Cherokee1027
Geneva830
Lamar781
Fayette711
Clay692
Coosa591
Cleburne381
Out of AL00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 52039

Reported Deaths: 652
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Shelby11936201
Davidson11205121
Rutherford304035
Hamilton280435
Sumner163652
Trousdale14985
Williamson134015
Knox12098
Out of TN11987
Wilson96317
Putnam9067
Robertson83911
Sevier8303
Bradley7454
Lake6940
Tipton6495
Unassigned6351
Bledsoe6211
Bedford5705
Montgomery5677
Macon4874
Maury3573
Hardeman3524
Hamblen3434
Fayette3232
Madison3052
Loudon2881
Rhea2850
Dyer2543
McMinn23918
Cheatham2321
Blount2293
Dickson2120
Cumberland1834
Washington1740
Lawrence1646
Lauderdale1513
Anderson1442
Monroe1416
Jefferson1372
Gibson1291
Smith1221
Sullivan1212
Coffee1200
Greene1142
Obion1132
Hardin1097
Cocke940
Haywood932
Marshall921
Franklin883
Wayne880
Hickman800
Warren780
McNairy760
Marion744
White733
DeKalb680
Carter651
Lincoln650
Weakley641
Overton631
Giles621
Hawkins622
Roane620
Grundy611
Unicoi550
Campbell511
Carroll481
Claiborne480
Henderson480
Polk460
Henry450
Johnson440
Grainger410
Sequatchie410
Crockett403
Cannon370
Chester350
Perry340
Meigs320
Humphreys292
Jackson290
Morgan271
Fentress230
Stewart230
Decatur220
Union190
Clay180
Scott170
Houston150
Benton131
Moore130
Van Buren70
Hancock60
Lewis60
Pickett60

 

 

Community Events