Facebook Allegedly Provided High-Profile Companies Special Access To User Information

A disturbing report published by the New York Times recently indicates that Facebook has been distributing special access to over 150 different high-profile companies, such as Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft.

The New York Times has claimed that it managed to get hold of several pages of valuable documents tracking the data-sharing practices and the social network’s partnerships, corroborated by numerous interviews with approximately 50 employees that previously worked at Facebook.

This obviously doesn’t paint an encouraging picture for anyone who is hovering over the ‘delete my Facebook account’ button. On the site, especially since the deals with Apple and Amazon are still live to this very day according to reports.

The Shocking Access Companies Currently Have

The access that Amazon allegedly has allows the company to see contact information and usernames through friends on Facebook. The multinational technology company, Microsoft, had the same deal with Bing, allowing the company to see the names of all Facebook users’ friends even without any consent.

However, it’s Spotify and Netflix’s arrangements that are undoubtedly the most shocking of them all. Several reports claim that the two companies had the capability to read private messages between Facebook users. Obviously, Netflix denied it immediately but managed to launch a feature during 2014 that allowed members to receive recommended television shows to Facebook friends through the messenger service. However, the company stated that it never grew in popularity and therefore decided to shut it down in 2015.

Other companies quickly denied that they were aware of the special access or that they utilized it. Amazon reported that the partnership with Facebook was purely meant to ensure a smooth experience on all its products, including their Fire tablet, using information which is in accordance with its own unique privacy policy. The multinational technology company, Microsoft, stated the exact same thing where they ended the partnership with Bing in 2017 and that they respected all preferences from users during their engagement with Bing. Spotify and Apple also claimed that they were unaware of the special access.

Facebook’s Involvement

Facebook obviously denies these allegations. Steve Satterfield, the director of the public and privacy policy at the company, responded to the report and argued that the agreement didn’t require Facebook to secure users’ consent prior to sharing data because the social network considered the partners as extensions of the company itself. He also added that the partners at Facebook are not allowed to ignore the privacy settings of people, but concluded that Facebook has loads of work to do in order to regain the trust of people, which is putting it quite mildly to be honest.

Another response from Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of Programs and Developer Platforms, explicitly stated that none of the features or partnerships provided companies access to user’s information without permission from people, nor did it manage to violate the settlement in 2012 with the FTC. However, even if it’s not true, loads of people are struggle to trust Facebook again going forward.