Facebook defends sharing user data with phone makers

Facebook is on the defensive again over how it handles people's personal data.Under scrutiny this time is the ...

Posted: Jun 4, 2018 4:43 PM
Updated: Jun 4, 2018 4:43 PM

Facebook is on the defensive again over how it handles people's personal data.

Under scrutiny this time is the company's practice of sharing information about its users with dozens of smartphone and tablet makers.

A New York Times investigation published late Sunday revealed the scope of data-sharing deals Facebook struck over the years with companies like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft. The partnerships give some device makers access to Facebook users' education history, relationship status, work, religion, political leaning and upcoming events, the Times reported.

In a blog post, Facebook confirmed some parts of the Times' report but disputed others.

It said it forged partnerships with around 60 companies back when mobile phones were less powerful and app stores did not yet exist. The social media company said it gave device makers access to software only so they could build versions of Facebook that worked on different phones or operating systems.

Related: Facebook execs grilled by investors after data scandal

"These partners signed agreements that prevented people's Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences," Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, wrote in the blog post.

"We are not aware of any abuse by these companies," he added, noting that Facebook has been "winding down access" to the software.

The New York Times reported that Facebook also gave device makers "access to the data of users' friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders."

Facebook disputed that finding, saying that "friends' information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends."

But the revelations quickly drew criticism and concern.

"It's worrying that so many companies had access to this data, particularly in light of security and privacy concerns," said Michael Veale, a technology policy expert at University College London. He suggested it's "hugely possible that other apps on some devices could have been mining this data if the privacy and security controls were lax."

US Congressman David Cicilline, who has introduced a bill intended to curb Facebook and Google's influence in the news industry, said the Times report raises questions about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg's testimony before Congress earlier this year.

"Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have 'complete control' over who sees our data on Facebook," Cicilline wrote on Twitter. "This needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable."

Facebook replied to Cicilline, saying the New York Times was "wrong about user controls."

"These companies could not integrate people's Facebook information with their devices without that person's permission," Facebook tweeted.

Apple, Samsung and Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.

Related: Mark Zuckerberg ripped by European Parliament for dodging questions

Facebook is under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers, regulators and users around the world over its handling of users' data and the steps it takes to protect their privacy.

The firestorm erupted in March when it emerged that Cambridge Analytica, a consulting firm with ties to President Donald Trump's campaign, gained improper access to tens of millions of Facebook users' data.

The scandal pummeled Facebook's stock and prompted calls for greater regulation of big social media companies.

But Zuckerberg survived a series of grillings from lawmakers in the United States and Europe. And Facebook's stock has since recovered to trade close to its all-time high.

-- Michael Kaplan and Samuel Burke contributed to this report.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 93087

Reported Deaths: 2809
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds6956155
DeSoto539355
Harrison372772
Jackson337867
Madison320086
Rankin318875
Lee258567
Jones239978
Forrest238270
Washington217471
Lafayette207239
Lauderdale1994124
Bolivar179065
Oktibbeha174750
Lamar162134
Neshoba1534103
Panola144027
Sunflower141144
Lowndes139857
Warren138050
Leflore136280
Pontotoc122516
Pike120948
Monroe118365
Scott116125
Copiah115933
Coahoma112327
Holmes109158
Marshall107515
Lincoln106253
Grenada105335
Yazoo103629
Simpson101243
Union97824
Tate95137
Leake93937
Adams91736
Wayne87421
Pearl River86250
Marion84133
Prentiss80817
Covington80622
Alcorn76811
Newton75623
Itawamba75221
Tallahatchie74918
George74413
Winston72319
Tishomingo65737
Chickasaw65224
Tippah64216
Attala64125
Walthall59325
Clay57117
Hancock56121
Jasper54915
Noxubee54315
Clarke53539
Smith52114
Calhoun50612
Tunica47913
Montgomery45420
Claiborne45116
Lawrence42512
Yalobusha41614
Perry40617
Humphreys37315
Quitman3735
Stone35011
Greene34317
Webster33113
Jefferson Davis32511
Amite31210
Carroll31212
Wilkinson30217
Kemper28615
Sharkey26312
Jefferson2399
Benton2181
Franklin1893
Choctaw1785
Issaquena1033
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 128818

Reported Deaths: 2284
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson18911337
Mobile13039289
Montgomery8628173
Madison750775
Tuscaloosa7180114
Lee570559
Shelby564550
Baldwin504749
Marshall382143
Etowah333447
Calhoun332039
Morgan318126
Houston269922
Elmore251947
DeKalb234619
St. Clair221335
Walker220780
Talladega205026
Limestone197319
Cullman183017
Franklin174128
Dallas173626
Russell17112
Autauga167324
Lauderdale164133
Colbert159326
Escambia155725
Blount154214
Jackson149411
Chilton147127
Dale132743
Covington130227
Coffee12708
Pike11519
Tallapoosa113183
Chambers112342
Clarke104917
Marion93728
Butler90838
Barbour8307
Marengo69919
Winston69912
Lowndes64527
Pickens63114
Bibb62810
Hale61228
Randolph60712
Bullock58514
Lawrence58220
Monroe5758
Geneva5634
Cherokee55516
Washington54413
Perry5376
Clay5367
Wilcox53011
Conecuh52311
Crenshaw52231
Macon47620
Henry4674
Fayette4189
Sumter41819
Lamar3452
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3206
Greene30015
Coosa1613
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Few Clouds
78° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 79°
Columbus
Clear
80° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 81°
Oxford
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 75°
Starkville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 78°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather