Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others given ‘deep access’ to Facebook user data

Apple was among the companies that used device-integrated APIs to serve up a version of Facebook on its hardware but the deals are now under scrutiny

Apple was among the companies that used device-integrated APIs to serve up a version of Facebook on its hardware but the deals are now under scrutiny

"And our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built", he continued. The New York Times says that it discovered that the manufacturers were able to access data from members' friends even if they had specifically banned Facebook from using their data. But the US company contends those pacts were meant to help device makers create their own versions of Facebook apps, and the data mostly remained on phones that accessed it.

According to the Times, however, an exemption was given to the device makers and they reportedly kept the access to the data.

The FTC is now investigating Facebook's privacy practices in light of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal.

Under some of the agreements, device makers could access the data of users' friends, even if they believed that they had barred sharing, the Times reported citing company officials. That settlement followed complaints from users that Facebook wasn't allowing them to keep their information on the social network private-Facebook promised to get consent from users before sharing their data with third parties, and to avoid making deceptive claims about its privacy practices.

"This was flagged internally as a privacy issue", Sandy Parakilas, a former leader of the platform's privacy compliance unit, told The Times.

The company has been under intense scrutiny in the past few months after it became public that British political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had accessed private information of 87 million Facebook users.

Then there's the fact that CEO Mark Zuckerberg told Congress in March that Facebook's users have "complete control over who sees [their data] and how [they] share it".

A Facebook statement in response to the report denies that information belonging to friends of users was shared without permission. The manufacturers who partnered with Facebook have access to members' "relationship status, religion, political leaning, upcoming events and other data". Most notably, this was done after the Cambridge Analytica scandal that now has governments across the world demanding more protection for consumers. But The Times report suggests major device makers were not restricted by the same policy. He confirmed the use of the data sharing agreements with around 60 companies - including Amazon, Apple, Blackberry, HTC, Microsoft, and Samsung - which were used to allow users to access Facebook back before there were app stores and standard operating systems.

Facebook controlled the APIs tightly, and said the partners signed agreements that prevented information from being used for anything other than to "recreate Facebook-like experience".

Facebook didn't immediately respond to a CNET request for comment, but told the New York Times that the agreement didn't violate the 2011 consent decree because companies like Apple, Blackberry or Samsung were more like "service providers", similar to cloud services paid to store data.

"We're not aware of any people's information being misused by these companies", Archibong said.

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