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Facebook Broke Own Rules To Give Some Companies Special Access

Facebook issued a 747-page response to the additional questions that Congress had after this spring’s hearings on social media privacy. The company revealed that it had shared information about users' friends with dozens of companies even though it had promised to end the practice in 2015.

Facebook’s Flexible “Data Restriction”

Back in 2015, after Facebook discovered the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company took steps to restrict third-party developers’ access to its users' friends data. However, these new rules didn’t apply to everyone.

Facebook continued to allow 61 software developers to access friends data after announcing that it had blocked everyone else from accessing the same data. These partnerships continued for at least six more months. Facebook said it simply wanted to give these developers time to embrace the new changes and minimize the disruption to their businesses.

Among those that received the extensions:

  • the dating service Hinge
  • Russian internet giant Mail.ru
  • sportswear firm Nike
  • car manufacturer Nissan
  • casino-type game developer Playtika
  • music streaming service Spotify
  • courier company UPS

Facebook also allowed 52 other partners to “recreate Facebook-like experiences.” These companies had full access to the Facebook user data, including data on the users’ friends. Facebook said that it had ended the partnership with these companies, which included:

  • Dell
  • Huawei
  • Kodak
  • LG
  • O2
  • Orange
  • Virgin Mobile
  • Warner Bros

Another 14 companies still benefit from extensive user data access. Some of these include:

  • Nokia
  • Vodafone
  • Yahoo
  • Zing Mobile

Another Cambridge Analytica In The Making?

Critics have pointed out that these deals could have allowed companies such as Huawei, which is now among the Chinese companies that are no longer trusted by the U.S. federal government, to abuse data in the same way Cambridge Analytica did. Facebook has rejected this argument, stating that the situation was different then because these companies were its close partners and not random marketing firms.

The civil rights group EPIC also issued a statement saying that, in these responses to Congress, Facebook has essentially admitted to violating the 2011 settlement agreement with the FTC. In 2011, the FTC said Facebook “deceived consumers by failing to keep privacy promises.”

In March, the Acting Director of the FTC stated:

"Companies who have settled previous FTC actions must also comply with FTC order provisions imposing privacy and data security requirements. Accordingly, the FTC takes very seriously recent press reports raising substantial concerns about the privacy practices of Facebook."

In the years since the settlement, the FTC has also allowed Facebook to be “audited” by third-party companies, instead of conducting the audit itself. This failure to properly enforce its agreement with Facebook is part of the reason why companies such as Cambridge Analytica were later able to abuse Facebook’s lax data access rules.

Facebook said that it has already suspended 200 applications, although all of those seem to come only from five developers and many of them were only “tests.” Facebook also temporarily suspended 14 apps linked to the Canadian data analytics company AggregateIQ (AIQ).

Facebook doesn’t seem to have any issues yet with how Palantir, a military-focused data-mining company owned by Facebook board member Peter Thiel, uses Facebook data.

  • hotaru251
    im sorry...but why the h__l is FB not closed?

    They constantly break rules involving peoples info and yet they get a slap on wrist and just do it over yet again....
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    21107851 said:
    im sorry...but why the h__l is FB not closed?

    They constantly break rules involving peoples info and yet they get a slap on wrist and just do it over yet again....

    If you think it's just FB, you're sadly mistaken.
    Any online entity that knows anything about you does the same thing.

    Amazon, Twitter, Uber, the DMV, etc, etc, etc, etc.
    When they get 'caught', they pay a 'fine' and proceed on.
    Reply
  • nitrium
    Consumers should appreciate that these "free" social media companies are anything but. YOU, the user, are the product they sell. "I have nothing to hide" is the usual response, but that is patently untrue. Insurance companies, for example, would be very interested in to know what you eat, what you drink, how often you're sick etc when you're negotiating a policy - data that companies like Facebook can sell to them. Does anyone really want to live in a glass house?
    Reply
  • kenjitamura
    21108001 said:
    Consumers should appreciate that these "free" social media companies are anything but. YOU, the user, are the product they sell. "I have nothing to hide" is the usual response, but that is patently untrue. Insurance companies, for example, would be very interested in to know what you eat, what you drink, how often you're sick etc when you're negotiating a policy - data that companies like Facebook can sell to them. Does anyone really want to live in a glass house?

    People could be smarter and use open source social networking alternatives like minds or diaspora. They are still free but use decentralized networks, protect privacy, and even allow for complete anonymity. But unfortunately as Facebook has become so ubiquitous with the largest base that will never happen.

    The few times that open source initiatives set trends rather than follow them things end up so much better for everyone. That hardly ever happens though and when they're so late to the game it's already too late.

    Reply
  • rantoc
    What a shocker - Facebook lied for the 1zillionth time. At this rate only a moron would allow them to retain their data
    Reply
  • therealduckofdeath
    21107851 said:
    im sorry...but why the h__l is FB not closed?

    They constantly break rules involving peoples info and yet they get a slap on wrist and just do it over yet again....

    If you saw the "hearing" the US legislators had with Zuckerberg you'd know the answer. Near 90 year old computer agnostics asking stereotype questions about the internet when they're supposed to investigate how Facebook undermines the freedom of speech with the freedom of shouting, pay to get the opinion you want.
    Reply
  • hellwig
    "Facebook has rejected this argument, stating that the situation was different then because these companies were its close partners and not random marketing firms."

    "Nuh uh!" says, facebook, "Huawei would never steal your information, they said we were BFFs and would never betray us!".
    Reply
  • pensive69
    '...Facebook doesn’t seem to have any issues yet with how Palantir, a military-focused data-mining company owned by Facebook board member Peter Thiel, uses Facebook data....'

    a souless dishonest Facebook doesn't surprise me.
    Reply
  • Co BIY
    Same with the old Yellow Pages. You actually had to pay to not be listed.

    Very little new under the sun.
    Reply
  • pensive69
    21111833 said:
    Same with the old Yellow Pages. You actually had to pay to not be listed.
    Very little new under the sun.

    well our listing in the "old Yellers" was a one liner.
    and that was it. if we wanted an ad or to put something out there
    we could tell them what it was and how much to show or tell.
    i think it's just the Emperor losing his clothing in public.
    in that sense it's not new and it is laughable.
    Reply