Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Facebook Shared User Data With Select Companies

Facebook Shared User Data With Select Companies

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that the social network cut deals with a number of companies to provide access to user records and friend data even after its policy change that prevented apps from scraping that very information. This includes data such as phone numbers and "friend links", which measure the degree of closeness between users and their friends.

Facebook has admitted the WSJ largely got its facts right, but insists that these extensions - given to the likes of Nissan and the Royal Bank of Canada - were meant to help companies adapt to the new privacy regulations.

The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that Facebook reached deals with Royal Bank of Canada, Nissan Motor Company and other organizations that advertised on Facebook. They also raise further questions about who has access to the data of billions of Facebook users and why they had access, at a time when Congress is demanding the company be held accountable for the flow of that data. "But other than that, things were shut down".

Those extensions expired before the end of 2015, Facebook said.

The new report emerges as FB seeks to recover from the data scandal that rocked the company in March.

Disclosure of the deals punctures a hole in the picture Facebook has tried to paint as a suddenly user-friendly, privacy-minded company after 2014-not that anyone was buying that image anyway.

Facebook reportedly gave certain companies preferential treatment as well, setting up "internal teams dedicated to brokering and developing customized data deals". Particularly concerning is the claim that Facebook's deals included, in some cases, more extensive access to data about users' friends.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating whether the Cambridge Analytica breach violated a 2011 consent decree barred it from making misrepresentations about the privacy or security of consumers' personal information.

The scrutiny dates back to a time when Facebook, in a bid to get many more people to join the service, gave third parties who created an app on the Facebook platform access to the personal information of Facebook users including friend lists, interests and "likes". It was not yet known users in which country were affected the most.

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