STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

NYT: Facebook offered big tech firms more user data than previously revealed

Facebook offered more of its users' data to companies including Microsoft and Amazon than it has admitted, a...

Posted: Dec 20, 2018 4:33 AM
Updated: Dec 20, 2018 4:33 AM

Facebook offered more of its users' data to companies including Microsoft and Amazon than it has admitted, according to a new report by The New York Times.

The Times reported late Tuesday that it obtained internal Facebook (FB) documents that show how the social media giant arranged to share data with more than 150 companies. The deals helped Facebook gain more users, according to the report, and its partners were able to add new features to their products while effectively avoiding Facebook's usual privacy rules.

Amazon.com Inc

Broadcasting industry

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Companies

Digital and streaming music

Digital privacy

Facebook

Internet and WWW

Internet broadcasting

Media industry

Microsoft

Music industry

New York Times Co

Social media

Streaming media

Technology

Newspapers

Publishing industry

Law and legal system

Privacy rights

Digital and streaming video

Movie and video industry

Netflix Incorporated

Digital security

Spotify

Many of the partnerships ended years ago, but the details reported by the Times are striking.

Amazon (AMZN) got access to Facebook users' names and contact information through their friends on the social network, according to the report, while Microsoft's (MSFT) search engine Bing was allowed to "see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent." Streaming services Netflix (NFLX) and Spotify (SPOT) had the "ability to read Facebook users' private messages," it said.

CNN has not independently viewed the internal documents obtained by the Times.

Despite assurances from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that people "have complete control" over who sees their content, The Times said the internal documents and interviews with 50 former Facebook employees indicated that the company still gave other firms access to user data.

The company's partnerships with Amazon and Apple (AAPL) are still continuing today.

The revelations come at a trying time for Facebook, which has faced a litany of criticism over how it handles user data. The social network said in April that data firm Cambridge Analytica may have harvested information on as many as 87 million users without their knowledge. In October, Facebook revealed that hackers gained access to the phone numbers and email addresses of almost 30 million of its users.

In response to the Times report, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, Steve Satterfield, said in a statement that its partners "don't get to ignore people's privacy settings."

Facebook has 'work to do' to regain trust

"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 said. "Unlike a game, streaming music service, or other third-party app, which offer experiences that are independent of Facebook, these partners can only offer specific Facebook features and are unable to use information for independent purposes."

Facebook knows it's "got work to do to regain people's trust," Satterfield added. "Partnerships are one area of focus and, as we've said, we're winding down the integration partnerships that were built to help people access Facebook."

The Times said the documents and interviews "raise questions about whether Facebook ran afoul of a 2011 consent agreement with the Federal Trade Commission that barred the social network from sharing user data without explicit permission."

Satterfield said, the Times reported, that the 2011 FTC agreement "did not require the social network to secure users' consent before sharing data because Facebook considered the partners extensions of itself — service providers that allowed users to interact with their Facebook friends."

In a separate statement posted on Facebook's website, the company said it had not violated the FTC agreement.

"To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC," wrote Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs.

Papamiltiadis said, however, that "we recognize that we've needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information."

Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, Apple and Spotify respond

An Amazon spokesman said in a statement to CNN that it uses the software interfaces "provided by Facebook in order to enable Facebook experiences for our products," such as giving "customers the option to sync Facebook contacts on an Amazon Tablet."

Amazon uses the information in accordance with its own privacy policy, he said.

Microsoft said that data supplied by Facebook stopped appearing in Bing search results after the contract between the two companies ended in February 2016.

"Throughout our engagement with Facebook, we respected all user preferences," Microsoft said in a statement.

Netflix said that it launched a feature in 2014 that "enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix," but that "at no time did we access people's private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so."

The feature "was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015," Netflix said in a statement.

An Apple spokesman referred CNN to a paragraph in the Times article citing Apple officials as saying they were unaware that Facebook had granted the company's devices any special access. Any shared data would remain on the devices and be available to anyone other than the users, according to Apple.

Spotify said in a statement that its integration with Facebook was designed to help users share and discover music.

"Previously, when users shared music from Spotify, they could add on text that was visible to Spotify," the statement said. "This has since been discontinued. We have no evidence that Spotify ever accessed users' private Facebook messages."

Most of the companies with which Facebook shared data under the arrangements were tech firms such as "online retailers and entertainment sites," according to the report, but they also included automakers and media organizations. The Times reported that it was one of those media groups.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 307519

Reported Deaths: 7096
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto20772248
Hinds19888408
Harrison17489302
Rankin13311275
Jackson13097243
Madison9895210
Lee9856169
Jones8290160
Forrest7523146
Lauderdale7187237
Lowndes6262144
Lamar610584
Lafayette6027117
Washington5280132
Bolivar4769129
Oktibbeha455297
Panola4442103
Pearl River4419139
Warren4280118
Marshall4273100
Pontotoc416472
Monroe4057132
Union403675
Neshoba3987176
Lincoln3869108
Hancock372085
Leflore3468124
Sunflower329389
Tate322681
Pike3180104
Scott310572
Yazoo304368
Alcorn297764
Itawamba296776
Copiah292965
Coahoma289677
Simpson287484
Tippah284668
Prentiss275659
Marion265779
Wayne261341
Leake261073
Grenada254982
Covington254580
Adams245882
Newton244859
George237847
Winston225981
Tishomingo222067
Jasper219748
Attala213273
Chickasaw204857
Holmes186471
Clay182454
Stone179131
Clarke176876
Tallahatchie175240
Calhoun163230
Yalobusha158836
Smith158534
Walthall130543
Greene129433
Lawrence126223
Noxubee125933
Montgomery125542
Perry125138
Carroll120826
Amite120041
Webster113432
Jefferson Davis105432
Tunica102525
Claiborne101330
Benton97225
Kemper95226
Humphreys94332
Franklin81823
Quitman78916
Choctaw72817
Jefferson64828
Wilkinson64727
Sharkey49617
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 518899

Reported Deaths: 10712
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson753641487
Mobile37763798
Madison33859494
Tuscaloosa25266443
Montgomery23962565
Shelby23106238
Baldwin20631300
Lee15524165
Calhoun14284311
Morgan14139268
Etowah13662345
Marshall11957219
Houston10380278
Elmore9993200
Limestone9811147
Cullman9470188
St. Clair9426234
Lauderdale9215227
DeKalb8746181
Talladega8058171
Walker7087275
Jackson6754110
Autauga6723103
Blount6483135
Colbert6203130
Coffee5399112
Dale4767110
Russell428838
Franklin419982
Chilton4083109
Covington4053114
Tallapoosa3893146
Escambia387674
Dallas3527149
Chambers3499122
Clarke346360
Marion3065100
Pike305875
Lawrence295395
Winston272372
Bibb256258
Marengo248661
Geneva245875
Pickens232959
Barbour224755
Hale218775
Butler212266
Fayette208960
Henry187844
Cherokee182044
Randolph176941
Monroe171440
Washington164038
Macon154548
Clay149354
Crenshaw149257
Cleburne146041
Lamar139234
Lowndes136453
Wilcox124327
Bullock121340
Conecuh109028
Perry107926
Sumter102932
Coosa99228
Greene90734
Choctaw58724
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 81°
Oxford
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 79°
Starkville
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 84° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 81°
Sunshine continues into the work week with temperatures climbing well above average on Monday. But as clouds increase with slight rain chances into mid-week, we may see temperatures a bit cooler than average toward the end of the week.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather