Facebook Gave User Data To 60 Companies

The paper said these data-sharing agreements, which involved the use of application programming interfaces (APIs), may have breached a 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in which Facebook agreed to obtain users' "express consent" before sharing their data with third parties in new ways. The problem lies in the level of access granted to these private APIs, which raises concerns over the amount of data shared with these third-parties.

US Congressman David Cicilline, who has introduced a bill meant to curb Facebook and Google's influence in the news industry, said the Times report raises questions about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg's testimony before Congress earlier this year.

Perhaps the most concerning claim from the report is that Facebook gave some device makers "access to the data of users' friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders".

In certain instances, manufacturers could retrieve personal information from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing.

Written by Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships, the post says that these data agreements were a matter of necessity. This agreement with the FTC came following an investigation that discovered the social networking platform had allowed app developers to collect personal data of users' friends overriding their privacy settings. A Microsoft representative said the company started working with Facebook in 2008 but said no data was synced with Microsoft servers as it was stored locally on the phones powered by Microsoft.

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Facebook began shutting down the use of the APIs in April as part of its response to the Cambridge Analytica incident. It also said that the features couldn't be used with permission and that its engineering teams approved all of them. While this sounds relatively harmless, Facebook has now been caught giving Apple, Microsoft, Samsung, Blackberry and at least 56 other manufacturers "deep access" to each user and their friends without consent. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it seems that the social networking giant has been involved in several similar data sharing scandals. As such, it offered APIs to allow device-makers to "recreate Facebook-like experiences of their individual devices or operating systems". A Times reporter logged into his Facebook account on that app, gaining access not only to detailed information about 556 friends, including sensitive stuff about religious and political leanings, but also to identifying information on 294,258 friends-of-friends.

However, Facebook blasted back at the Times report, saying the newspaper has misinterpreted the objective and function of its so-called "device-integrated APIs" - the software that allows hardware companies to bridge into Facebook's database to offer versions of the app on their operating systems. "We are not aware of any abuse by these companies".

According to Archibong, 22 of the partnerships have already ended.

"Over and over Facebook has proven itself unworthy of user's trust".

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