Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others given ‘deep access’ to Facebook user data

Posted June 05, 2018

Microsoft (msft) said any data its software got from Facebook stayed on users' devices and was not uploaded to its own servers.

According to an extensive report by the New York Times, Facebook reached agreements with at least 60 different device makers - including companies like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Blackberry - providing access to large amounts of user data.

The NYT questions whether these agreements conflict with a 2011 Federal Trade Commission decree that required, among other things, Facebook to, "obtain consumers' affirmative express consent before enacting changes that override their privacy preferences".

What's harder to understand is other aspects of the Times reporting, which found that those hardware companies also had in prior years - and in some cases, continued to have years after those first Facebook data-sharing arrangements were made - the ability to collect much more information from Facebook user accounts including religious affiliation, event attendance and data from the social media accounts of Facebook users' friends.

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Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing, the newspaper said.

In interviews to NYT, Facebook defended its data-sharing agreement and asserted that these are consistent with its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, responded to The Times' article with a blog post titled, "Why We Disagree with The New York Times". Partners could not integrate the user's Facebook features with their devices without the user's permission. Facebook refutes that the APIs shared users' friends' data.

Under scrutiny this time is the company's practice of sharing information about its users with dozens of smartphone and tablet makers.

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In March, Facebook was forced on the defensive after it was revealed that a company that used its platform, Cambridge Analytica, had harvested data in unethical ways for political purposes. To date, Facebook has ended 22 such partnerships with technology companies.

To bridge this gap, we built a set of device-integrated APIs that allowed companies to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their individual devices or operating systems. Facebook released the documents last month, but provided the lawmakers with the name of only one partner - BlackBerry - and little information about how its agreement with the device maker worked.

On April 10, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a rare US Senate joint committee in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

It said it forged partnerships with around 60 companies back when mobile phones were less powerful and app stores did not yet exist. "This was flagged internally as a privacy issue", Parakilas said, "It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook's testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled".

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