Facebook has been giving major companies access to users' private information, according to new reports by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Both reports provide detailed accounts of how far Facebook has gone to collect user information, and also how willing it's been to provide that same data to major companies including Apple, Spotify, Netflix, and a plethora of others.
Facebook sharing information wasn't done out of the goodness of its heart, either. Rather, the social media company apparently fostered special partnerships with these companies to let them access certain data.
Facebook Partners With Major Companies For Access To User Data
For example, Facebook allowed Microsoft's search engine, Bing, to see the names of virtually all users' friends without their consent. Not only that, but Facebook also allowed both Netflix and Spotify to access users' private messages, according to the reports.
Worse yet, Facebook allowed Amazon to obtain users' names and contact information through their friends. The company also allowed Yahoo to view streams of friends' posts as recently as this summer despite stating it had stopped doing so years earlier. Apple also received access to users' contacts and calendar entries, even if data sharing was disabled on the user's end.
Facebook Data Partnerships
The New York Times' report states that there are three kinds of Facebook partnerships. The first is what Facebook calls "integrations," which refer to custom-built apps that the company created itself for OEMs. Because these apps were specifically made for a particular manufacturer, they require a broad exchange of data between the parties.
The second kind of partnership involves a now-defunct "instant personalization" program, which opted each Facebook user in by default. Through this, all partners were allowed to personalize their own services using whatever data Facebook had on its users and what it was willing to share.
The third kind of partnership is one-off deals that the company entered into over the years. These include ones made with Spotify, Netflix, and the Royal Bank of Canada, wherein they were all granted full access to users' private messages, including reading and writing them.
"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," Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook, said in an e-mail.
The story is likely still developing, so make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more.