Published: Tue, June 05, 2018
Industry | By Faith Ward

Facebook shared user data with Apple and Samsung

Compliance with a 2011 FTC consent decree is also in question.

On the Hill, Sen. The data was reportedly shared with device makers via the company's device-integrated APIs. "The secret agreements raise serious credibility issues about recent testimony".

Facebook says it made deals with around 60 companies, from Apple, Amazon and Blackberry to HTC, Microsoft and Samsung, to "recreate Facebook-like experiences" on their devices. According to a story in the New York Times on Sunday, this has been going on for over ten years. "Over and over Facebook has proven itself unworthy of user's trust".

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. He suggested it's "hugely possible that other apps on some devices could have been mining this data if the privacy and security controls were lax".

This report comes just weeks after Facebook announced it would shut down older APIs no longer in use. But the company said it phased out its system in April. "We are not aware of any abuse by these companies". "BlackBerry users seem to have been turned into data dealers, unknowingly and unwillingly".

Beginning in 2014, Facebook began ending the access app developers had to users' friends data, which included names, birthdays, and even political or religious leanings.

It's potentially a very big problem for Facebook. "You shouldn't be able to lie to people". A Microsoft representative said the company started working with Facebook in 2008 but said no data was synced with Microsoft servers as it was stored locally on the phones powered by Microsoft.

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On April 10, CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before a rare US Senate joint committee in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

The scandal pummeled Facebook's stock and prompted calls for greater regulation of big social media companies.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar later stressed in a statement that the incident demonstrated the need to pass comprehensive online privacy reform legislation, which she offered earlier this year.

"This limitless data sharing of users has to stop", Verhofstadt said.

Legally, Facebook's fate may rest on a few key phrases. The agreement defines "third party" to include a whole host of other individual entities, potentially like advertisers or app-makers. The deals were struck around the same time the first iPhone was introduced, and when Facebook launched its first mobile website. This level of access was apparently pulled back from third-parties in 2015, though the company apparently does not consider Blackberry a third-party in this case. These partnerships were put in place starting in 2007, with the objective of giving device manufacturers access to Facebook features, while simultaneously spreading the use of Facebook into the mobile sphere.

However, the FTC's former chief technologist said that the decision to override sharing restrictions was concerning.

Amazon and Samsung haven't yet provided comment. One of the commission's Democratic members, Commissioner Rohit Chopra, declined to discuss Facebook.

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