Emails show Facebook used Israeli app to monitor phones, mulled selling data

Posted December 06, 2018

"(The documents) raise important questions about how Facebook treats users' data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market", he said.

Facebook Inc let some companies, including Netflix and Airbnb, access users' lists of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015, according to documents released on Wednesday by a British lawmaker investigating fake news and social media. "I understand there is a lot of scrutiny on how we run our systems", Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a supporting post.

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The documents show an exchange between Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, in which they made a decision to stop giving friends' data access to Vine on the day that social media rival Twitter launched the video-sharing service. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it".

"Sometimes the best way to enable people to share something is to have a developer build a special goal app or network for that type of content and to make that app social by having Facebook plug into it", Zuckerberg wrote in 2012. "Based on their initial testing, it seems that this would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialogue at all", Yul Kwon, a Facebook developer, wrote. "It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not".

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"As we've said many times, Six4Three - creators of the Pikinis app - cherrypicked these documents from years ago as part of a lawsuit to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app's users". The files were seized by United Kingdom authorities just over a week ago when Ted Kramer, founder of U.S. software firm Six4Three, was in London.

"Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform", Facebook said. The idea of tying access to this data to the developer's relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature throughout the documents. The statement adds, "The facts are clear: we've never sold people's data".

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"We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers", the company said in a statement.

In one email, dated February 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would "continually upload" a user's call and SMS history would be a "high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective".

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"What has happened here is unconscionable", California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope said to Kramer and his attorneys during the hearing.