Facebook Gave Netflix, Spotify & More Access To Users' Private Messages

GettyFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg left and Netflix CEO Reed Hastings right

The publication reported and Facebook later admitted in a blog post that it allowed Spotify, Netflix and the Royal Bank of Canada to read, write and delete users' private messages. Microsoft's Bing could also view almost all users' friends, Amazon could glean contact information from them, and Yahoo had access to their posting streams. The report says that Spotify could view messages of more than 70 million users a month, although it did not state whether the company had full access to that entire number of users.

With most of the partnerships, Satterfield said, the 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.

The deals were all active in 2017, and some were still in effect this year, the Times reported. Facebook is still denying any wrongdoing, telling The Hollywood Reporter that "at no time did we access people's private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so".

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Microsoft said it took steps to ensure that Facebook data wasn't used to create profiles for advertising or personalization purposes.

We'll likely hear more statements like this from top brass, insisting that, yes, they can do better, but that the partnerships they forged were nonetheless kosher.

Facebook is now in the middle of yet another privacy related controversy following an investigation conducted by the New York Times. The company has spent the year trying to update its security and answer questions about the scandal from USA lawmakers and overseas policy makers. Not only will the latest controversy affect user trust, which has already been going down rapidly, but it will also affect the company's relationship with companies like Microsoft, Apple, and Amazon. The FTC this spring opened a new inquiry into Facebook's compliance with the consent order, while the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are also investigating the company. At the same time, Facebook got critical data back from its partners.

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Citing numerous interviews and hundreds of pages of internal reports, the newspaper said there were more than 150 companies with souped-up access, including tech firms, retailers and media groups. The spokesperson said Netflix shut the feature in 2015 as it was not popular.

"Still, we recognise that we've needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information", he added.

"Throughout our engagement with Facebook, we respected all user preferences", a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement. While the company has employed a "sorry, won't happen again" cookie cutter response, more and more reports keep coming, revealing that Facebook isn't afraid to break the laws and exploit its users' data.

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