Facebook accused of giving access to users’ data

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"Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends Data", Collins wrote in the report.

-Friends' data has been a big source of revenue for Facebook, thanks to growing revenues from app developers.

Facebook responded quickly, saying the release was misleading without context and that the documents "are only part of the story". With regards to Onavo, Facebook argues "we've always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used, including by Facebook".

Included in the confidential emails released by the Parliament's media committee was information showing that Facebook used an Israeli app it had acquired to monitor users' iPhone usage, using that information to identify competitors.

While they mostly cover the period between 2012 and 2015 -the first three years after Facebook went public - they offer a rare glimpse into the company's inner workings and the extent to which it used people's data to make money while publicly vowing to protect their privacy.


Facebook's statement goes into specifics, detailing each of the concerns raised thus far by the exposed communications, although arguably, numerous provided answers do not completely address the issues raised - in some cases going off on tangents and pointing towards other mechanisms involved.

Google has also fallen afoul of antitrust laws in 2018, with the European Commission fining the tech giant US$5 billion for anti-competitive behavior in regards to its Android mobile operating system and the apps it uses by default.

The documents also demonstrate the web of companies and services that plugged into Facebook's platform to receive information on users.

Six4Three's founder, Ted Kramer, had obtained them as part of a legal discovery process in a USA lawsuit against Facebook that his company has brought against the social network in California.

In other cases Zuckerberg eloquently espoused the value of giving software developers more access to user data in hopes that it would result in applications that, in turn, would encourage people to do more on Facebook.


"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents", said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails. One e-mail from 2013, from a Facebook employee, reads: "Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today".

Facebook did give preferred access to certain companies like Netflix, which was "whitelisted" to use data not available to everyone. The app also sent valuable data on what types of apps people were downloading back to Facebook. Furthermore, the Facebook app itself would prompt users to opt in to the feature, through a notification referred to by LeBeau as "an in-app opt-in NUX", or new user experience.

Mr. Collins also said the material showed that Facebook began continuously uploading calls and texts from Android phone users in 2015 and that the company "planned to make it as hard of possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app".

For instance, in 2013, the Royal Bank of Canada wanted to launch a new payments app, which would get more people signed up if the bank could tap into friends' lists on Facebook.


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