Facebook Allowed Netflix & Spotify to Read Users’ Private Messages

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees joint hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S

Facebook also permitted Amazon to obtain the social media network users' names and contact information through their friends and allowed Yahoo to view streams of users' friends' posts as recently as this summer, according to The New York Times. First, people could access their Facebook accounts or specific Facebook features on devices and platforms built by other companies like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo.

The whole debacle is comparable to the technical confusion that enabled Cambridge Analytica to collect data about Facebook user's friends without consent. For instance, an integration with Apple allowed iPhone users to link their Facebook calendars with their phone calendars, even if they had changed settings to disable all sharing.

According to the NYT report, Facebook offered these companies access to everything from friends lists to private messages, even after it claimed it no longer offered such access to anyone.

Speaking of money, unfortunately for Facebook's investors, this PR nightmare is having a very real (negative) impact on the company's bottom line.

Using loopholes within privacy agreements, Facebook has extended their own privacy rules to these tech companies, classifying them as partners of Facebook and granting them access to the data.

The investigation found that Facebook made deals with over 150 companies including online retailers, media organizations, automakers, and entertainment sites. RBC says they used Facebook's messenger platform data to develop a tool to make e-transfers on Messenger.

Facebook has acknowledged allowing Netflix and Spotify to access people's private messages.

"The deals, the oldest of which date to 2010, were all active in 2017", The Times reported. The partners were prohibited from using the personal information for other purposes, he said.

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The news came in response to a bombshell New York Times report that detailed how numerous companies had undisclosed access to user data. Lawmakers have been threatening for some time to impose new regulations to rein in Facebook, and the news report only seemed to further the case.

Netflix never asked for, or accessed, anyone's private messages.

Steve Satterfield, who is Facebook director of privacy and public policy, claims users' consent wasn't needed for the partnerships because Facebook considered the partners extensions of itself.

Rising pressure: Another day, another Facebook scandal.

Freedom From Facebook, a group which has previously called for the tech giant to be broken up, said the newest revelations should pressure the FTC to act, Fox News reports.

Former Federal Trade Commission officials told The Times that Facebook's newly revealed data-sharing agreements probably violated regulatory requirements. Users would have done this by using their Facebook account to log in to the other services, which, technically, counted as giving permission.

"The flagrancy with which Facebook has flouted its consent decree shows it doesn't take the agency seriously", the group said in a statement.

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