The New York Times has once again called out Facebook Inc. regarding their breach of user data access. This has been an ongoining situation for over a couple of months now. On Tuesday, NYT reported that Facebook authorized other tech giants such as Netflix, Spotify and Amazon a far greater access to user data than they led us to believe.
Citing internal records, NYT claim Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of basically all Facebook users’ friends without their consent. They also allowed Netflix and Spotify to view user’s private messages. Amazon got usernames and contact information. And according to the paper, Facebook in return got data from other companies which it used in its “People you may know” feature.
Obviously, Facebook wouldn’t just take the heat. They responded to all these allegations in a blogpost explaining themselves in which they maintained that third party services got access to user data only after user permission. And that the access to these companies, known as integration partners, was aimed at helping users access their Facebook accounts or specific features on devices running different platforms such as Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo. This features also enabled users to see recommendations from Facebook friends on apps such as Neflix and Spotify.
“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,”
Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Director of Developer Platforms and Programs
Facebook offered Instant Personalization from 2010 to 2014, under which
people could link their Facebook account with other services like Rotten Tomatoes or Yelp to see public information their friends shared and get travel suggestions on Bing based on what your friends shared publicly. However, this was a feature that could be turned off any time.
Instant personalization only involved public information, and we have no evidence that data was used or misused after the program was shut down. However, we shouldn’t have left the APIs in place after we shut down instant personalization. We’ve taken a number of steps this year to limit developers’ access to people’s Facebook information,
The social media giant claims to have shut down all these operations several months ago, except the ones with Apple and Amazon as a large population still find it useful.