Facebook: Umm, We May Have Shared Even More Data Than We Previously Disclosed


In an unsurprising news of the day, Facebook has admitted sharing data with dozens of tech companies and app developers even after it announced restricting this access in 2015. In a 747-page long document released to Congress, the company has confirmed what many had warned about already.

Despite the social networking giant's assurances that app developers and companies no longer had access to personal user information after it changed policies in 2015 and that the incidents like Cambridge Analytica data misuse happened before 2015 and not afterwards, it now appears that all of this wasn't actually true.

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61 app developers continued to have access to users' friends data for an additional six months after this access was supposedly stopped in 2015

Facebook has now disclosed that at least 61 app developers continued to have access to user information and their users' friends data, including their friends' names, gender, birth date, current city or hometown, photos and page likes. The list of these companies includes shipping firm UPS, the dating app Hinge, ABC Television Network, Japanese auto-firm Nissan, and Russian webmail portal Mail.ru.

The company says these 61 app developers were given a six-month extension "to migrate to the more restricted API and be subject to Facebook's new review and approval protocols."

As reported last month, Facebook was also discovered sharing user data with phone manufacturers. Over a month ago, reports revealed that Facebook gave phone manufacturers special access to user data, including some partners from China. The company tried to downplay the issue by suggesting that this was necessary during the early days of mobile, however, couldn't explain why such partnerships were still live in 2018.

Facebook has now revealed that it has these special agreements with 52 technology firms that were authorized to build versions of Facebook or Facebook features for their devices and products. Out of these, 38 have been discontinued while an additional seven partnerships will be ended by the end of July 2018.

The company revealed that special access partnerships with Apple, Amazon and Tobii are continuing, while arrangements with Alibaba and Opera Software don't include 'access to friends' data'."

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"Three partnerships will continue: (1) Tobii, an accessibility app that enables people with ALS to access Facebook; (2) Amazon; and (3) Apple, with whom we have agreements that extend beyond October 2018. We also will continue partnerships with Mozilla, Alibaba and Opera - which enable people to receive notifications about Facebook in their web browsers - but their integrations will not have access to friends’ data."

The social networking company said that these partnerships "do not involve data sharing with partners for their independent purposes."

After this latest admission, Facebook is likely to face penalties for enabling app developers to have access to users' friends' data who never gave consent to their data being shared with third party companies, violating its consent decree deal with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

- More details in this document released to Congress