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.

Cases: 333180

Reported Deaths: 7502
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto22901279
Hinds22780438
Harrison19569326
Rankin14851287
Jackson14342251
Madison10692227
Lee10437179
Jones8746169
Forrest8210157
Lauderdale7561243
Lowndes6790150
Lamar669688
Lafayette6459124
Washington5516139
Pearl River4915149
Bolivar4909134
Oktibbeha478498
Panola4723112
Marshall4654106
Warren4640127
Pontotoc440473
Monroe4255137
Union425379
Neshoba4182180
Lincoln4098115
Hancock405088
Leflore3565125
Pike3530112
Tate349588
Alcorn343974
Sunflower343093
Adams333387
Scott331775
Yazoo331173
Simpson314890
Copiah313867
Itawamba310180
Coahoma308785
Tippah298868
Prentiss292963
Covington282483
Marion279580
Leake278475
Wayne270743
Grenada266388
George261651
Newton256664
Tishomingo236869
Winston235584
Jasper226148
Attala220873
Chickasaw216360
Stone210237
Holmes195674
Clay192254
Clarke182080
Tallahatchie181742
Calhoun177532
Smith175935
Yalobusha169440
Walthall141548
Lawrence137726
Greene135734
Amite132843
Noxubee131635
Perry131038
Montgomery130944
Carroll124531
Webster117532
Jefferson Davis113334
Tunica111127
Benton104625
Claiborne104331
Kemper100729
Humphreys99133
Franklin85923
Quitman83519
Choctaw81319
Wilkinson74632
Jefferson69728
Sharkey51518
Issaquena1696
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 569131

Reported Deaths: 11483
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson831881584
Mobile45534855
Madison36714532
Tuscaloosa26717465
Shelby26527255
Montgomery25707624
Baldwin23668325
Lee16753181
Calhoun15107332
Morgan14916289
Etowah14637368
Marshall12786235
Houston11462292
Elmore10636217
St. Clair10500251
Limestone10468158
Cullman10236204
Lauderdale9968253
DeKalb9278191
Talladega8721187
Walker7581286
Autauga7402113
Jackson7263117
Blount7182139
Colbert6577142
Coffee6024131
Dale5307117
Russell465542
Chilton4630117
Covington4555125
Franklin442081
Tallapoosa4372157
Escambia419182
Chambers3842125
Dallas3687163
Clarke364262
Marion3378106
Pike324279
Lawrence3188101
Winston290772
Bibb279565
Geneva270983
Marengo258367
Barbour243161
Pickens239162
Butler235672
Hale231678
Fayette224364
Henry204845
Randolph194244
Cherokee193848
Monroe191841
Washington176239
Macon167252
Crenshaw163958
Clay162159
Cleburne159045
Lamar149438
Lowndes144254
Wilcox129131
Bullock125642
Conecuh118030
Coosa115829
Perry109728
Sumter108032
Greene97336
Choctaw63825
Out of AL00
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Hi: 93° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 101°
Columbus
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Feels Like: 97°
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Feels Like: 100°
Isolated to scattered showers and thunderstorms will continue to be the rule for our Sunday and beginning of our work week. Otherwise, we will see high temperatures reaching well into the 90s for highs and heat index values between 100 to 115 during the afternoon hours.
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