Published: Tue, June 05, 2018
IT | By Jonathon Greene

Facebook gave user data to 60 companies including Apple, Amazon, and Samsung

Instead saying that they are more like service providers; with the service being that user data is being stored on their servers. The deals were struck around the same time the first iPhone was introduced, and when Facebook launched its first mobile website.

Facebook began shutting down the use of the APIs in April as part of its response to the Cambridge Analytica incident.

The agreements that Facebook entered raise "concerns about the company's privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree" with the Federal Trade Commission, the NYT report said. It also gathered "identifying information for almost 295,000 Facebook users" by retrieving data on second-degree contacts, the newspaper said.

The newspaper said the information collected by the software included the IDs, birthday dates, work details and educational histories of numerous journalists' friends, as well as identifying information about many more friends-of-friends. This means that the software of companies including Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft and BlackBerry gets to plug into Facebook's systems and access data that does not belong to the specific person who's using that software.

Under scrutiny this time is the company's practice of sharing information about its users with dozens of smartphone and tablet makers. As such, it offered APIs to allow device-makers to "recreate Facebook-like experiences of their individual devices or operating systems".

This was tightly regulated with "signed agreements that prevented people's Facebook information from being used for any other objective than to recreate Facebook-like experiences", according to Archibong, and had to be approved by Facebook to prevent any misuse. Partners could not integrate the user's Facebook features with their devices without the user's permission. "It's why we announced in April that we're winding down access to them", the company wrote. Cambridge Analytica has since been dissolved. We've already ended 22 of these partnerships.

Remember, the company has been in damage-control mode since March, when the Times was among the news organizations that disclosed details about how the mysterious political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was able to obtain information on tens of millions of Facebook users largely without their knowledge or permission, thanks to an endless series of data barn doors that Facebook had left open.

Microsoft said the data involved was held locally on users' phones. Newer Blackberry-branded Android devices don't use the APIs, it said. Samsung declined to comment.

It is not yet clear what legal ramifications this NYT article will have on Facebook, as this could be construed as proof that Facebook directly lied to regulators.

Guy Verhofstadt, chair of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, tweeted that Zuckerberg "was not totally honest" in claiming users control how their data is shared and who sees it. A BlackBerry (bb) spokesperson told the paper that the Canadian firm "did not collect or mine the Facebook data of [its] customers".

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