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Facebook granted Spotify, Netflix, and RBC access to users’ Facebook messages

Facebook granted Spotify, Netflix, and RBC access to users’ Facebook messages
  • Facebook gave Spotify, Netflix, and Royal Bank of Canada read and write access to users’ private messages.
  • Facebook granted Bing access to users’ public data such as names, profile information, friends’ names, hometowns etc.

The most popular social networking site Facebook is in data-sharing partnership with Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, Netflix, Royal Bank of Canada, Yahoo, and more. Interviews with 50 former Facebook employees and corporate partners reveal that the Social-networking giant has granted certain companies with access to user data despite restrictions and protections.

Facebook has conflicted with the 2011 consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that has barred the social networking firm from sharing user data without explicit permission.

Data-sharing Partnership

The data-sharing partnership with companies has benefited more than 150 companies with almost hundreds of millions of user data per month. The data-sharing partnership deal with companies started since 2010 and most of the deals were all active till 2017. Some are still active this year.

The data-sharing partnerships include-

  • Facebook granted Apple access to Facebook users’ contacts and calendar entries. A part of partnership still exists despite disabling the data sharing partnership. “We were unaware that we had special access, and of the data described would never leave the user’s device,” Apple told the Times.
  • Facebook granted Microsoft’s search engine, Bing access to users’ public data such as names, profile information, friends’ names, hometowns, and all other user data that was set to ‘public’.
  • Microsoft told that it has since deleted the data, but according to the Times, Bing continued to have access through 2017, and two other companies still had access this summer.
  • Amazon was granted access to users’ names and contact information. Amazon told that it had used the information appropriately. It is to be noted that the partnership has been called off.
  • Yahoo and Yandex also gained access to Facebook users’ data. Both seemed to have retained the access years after it was supposed to have been disabled.
  • Facebook gave Spotify, Netflix, and Royal Bank of Canada read and write access to users’ private messages. In Spotify’s case, the company plugged into Facebook users’ chat window to send songs to users’ friends.

This was the result of a broadly written API, launched in 2010 as part of an early (pre-Messenger) effort to build a messaging platform.

Facebook highlights the benefits of data sharing in its blog post on 18, December 2018. “First, people could access their Facebook accounts or specific Facebook features on devices and platforms built by other companies like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry, and Yahoo. These are known as integration partners. Second, people could have more social experiences – like seeing recommendations from their Facebook friends – on other popular apps and websites, like Netflix, The New York Times, Pandora and Spotify,” Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Director of Developer Platforms and Programs at Facebook, wrote in the blog.

“Facebook’s partners don’t get to ignore people’s privacy settings, and it’s wrong to suggest that they do,” said Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook, in an email.

“Over the years, we’ve partnered with other companies so people can use Facebook on devices and platforms that we don’t support ourselves,” he added.



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