SEVERE WX : Wind Advisory View Alerts

NYT: Facebook gave big tech access to user data

A New York Times report says Facebook shared users' personal data with other tech giants. CNN's Poppy Harlow and Jim Sciutto discuss Facebook's response.

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 10:04 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2018 10:07 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.

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
Overcast
57° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 57°
Florence
Clear
60° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 60°
Fayetteville
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 55°
Decatur
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 64° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 54°
Scottsboro
Scattered Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
WAAY Radar
WAAY WAAY-TV Cam
WAAY Temperatures

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 234080

Reported Deaths: 3459
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson30620491
Mobile19306358
Tuscaloosa12501148
Madison12410146
Montgomery12040232
Shelby980576
Baldwin826984
Lee753964
Morgan618247
Calhoun5997113
Etowah590564
Marshall581953
Houston507038
DeKalb463535
Cullman412636
Limestone404544
St. Clair398455
Elmore393961
Lauderdale382953
Walker349096
Talladega335942
Colbert296341
Jackson291924
Blount276336
Autauga263439
Franklin244833
Coffee233415
Dale226654
Dallas220231
Russell21803
Chilton216937
Covington212533
Escambia194431
Tallapoosa169290
Chambers168048
Pike155514
Clarke155419
Marion134535
Winston123723
Lawrence122436
Geneva11748
Marengo116924
Barbour116110
Pickens115318
Bibb114217
Butler113741
Randolph99821
Cherokee98924
Hale91631
Washington90018
Clay89423
Fayette84416
Henry8426
Lowndes78729
Monroe76811
Cleburne74414
Crenshaw70330
Macon70020
Bullock69019
Conecuh66814
Perry6686
Lamar6267
Wilcox62418
Sumter55322
Choctaw41713
Greene40217
Coosa3074
Out of AL00
Unassigned00

Tennessee Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 344550

Reported Deaths: 4301
CountyCasesDeaths
Shelby45771637
Davidson40820407
Knox17590140
Rutherford16907150
Hamilton15861136
Williamson1066473
Sumner9141134
Wilson705574
Out of TN692847
Montgomery622381
Sullivan609389
Putnam574379
Washington5596100
Maury554958
Blount512356
Madison5108105
Bradley483233
Sevier468131
Unassigned437714
Robertson357351
Tipton348736
Hamblen331557
Dyer308649
Gibson301161
Greene285971
Anderson273725
Dickson272827
Coffee263041
Bedford254428
Carter253453
Obion252247
Lawrence250732
Cumberland242335
McMinn234355
Warren227018
Hardeman221037
Roane220424
Loudon218418
Jefferson215331
Fayette214437
Weakley207734
Lauderdale200321
Monroe199042
Franklin193632
Trousdale189412
Hawkins181434
Wayne180810
Henderson178730
Macon176427
Hardin171825
White167517
Marshall165317
Carroll164732
Haywood159629
Rhea157130
Cocke154928
Overton150534
Cheatham149416
Campbell147621
Lincoln146313
Henry144617
Smith138319
Johnson137621
McNairy137632
Giles135643
Fentress117119
Lake11515
Bledsoe11425
Hickman111517
Crockett111025
DeKalb108920
Marion103917
Chester98819
Scott9587
Grainger92315
Decatur91512
Unicoi78525
Benton76114
Claiborne7559
Grundy74214
Lewis71514
Cannon7072
Union6915
Morgan6726
Jackson66010
Humphreys6537
Polk63214
Houston57319
Stewart55414
Clay52518
Sequatchie4965
Meigs46112
Perry46020
Moore3692
Pickett36612
Van Buren3422
Hancock1473

Community Events