Looks like Facebook is in yet another deluge of controversies, as the world’s largest social media network is said to have shared user details with a number of companies. According to The Wall Street Journal, it all happened just after the day when executives announced that Facebook prevented third-party developers from acquiring access to the said data. Obviously, the news contradicts this.
The records shared by the social media site reportedly included details about the friends of users. It includes phone numbers and even breakdowns that somehow analyze the degree of separation between people on Facebook. Interestingly, the company admitted that this type of information was indeed shared to a “small number” of business entities, which included the likes of RBC Capital Markets and Nissan Motor Co. just to name a few. There were also advertisers and business partners as stated in the official report.
The aforementioned companies acquired access to the data sometime in 2015. This was when Facebook had decided to lock almost all of the third-party developers or basically those who develop apps that can be used on the social network. The company also whitelisted companies extension just before they were blocked from getting personal information of their users.
The extensions, however, expired before 2015 ended. Facebook believes that the previously unreported extensions, all with a select group of companies, are in one way or another consistent with previous statements released by the CEO Mark Zuckerberg. These were the same statements he cited during his testimony to the Congress. There, Zuckerberg talked about shielding 2.2 billion users’ personal data from third-party developers.
Any of the new deals involve users’ ability to share their broader friends’ list, but not exactly their friends’ private information (e.g. interests, photos, etc.). This was also confirmed by Facebook’s very own vice president of product partnerships Ime Archibong.
This new report is definitely putting Facebook on the spot, albeit continuing to wrestle with the fallout caused by the privacy scandal. The latter, on the other hand, rose nearly three months ago, which saw a data mining company tied to the 2016 campaign that gave President Donald Trump his presidential win. According to reports, the accumulated information affected at least 87 million users.
Nonetheless, Facebook admitted publicly that it has since been sharing its users’ information with about 60 smartphone makers, one of which is the tech giant Samsung. Shortly after that, the company revealed that the posts of around 14 million users were shared publicly even without their intention to do so. It was said to be due to a software bug, something that a majority of individuals – especially the company’s long-time criticizers – did not believe.
The bug that affected the said posts was already fixed as Facebook revealed. The company also decided to remove all of the data-sharing deals that it has given to smartphone makers, a deal that it made since the start of 2007.
Facebook’s arrangement with these device developers, as well as the software bug phenomenon, is expected to be examined by the Federal Trade Commission. Regulators have already started investigating the company to determine whether or not it violated a 2011 agreement, which disallowed Facebook from sharing all of its users’ personal information. The agreement also covered the prevention of changing privacy controls without the consent of the company’s users. If proven guilty, these violations could result in a massive array of fines.
Despite all the backlash, Facebook has received these past few months, its advertising-driven business has not shown any signs of damage. It continues to grow. In fact, the social media network continues to acquire more and more users even after the infamous Cambridge Analytica scandal.