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

Lindsey Duncan
June 4, 2018

"It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook's testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled", he said.

"We are not aware of any abuse by these companies", he added, noting that Facebook has been "winding down access" to the software.

"These partners signed agreements that prevented people's Facebook information from being used for any other objective than to recreate Facebook-like experiences", said Archibong. This could constitute a violation of Facebook's Federal Trade Commission (FTC) 2011 privacy decree since Facebook was granting device makers access to a user's relationship status, political views, education history, religion, and much more without receiving explicit consent.

"This is yet another concerning example of companies collecting, sharing, and exploiting users' data in completely unexpected ways", commented Privacy International's legal officer Ailidh Callander.

Facebook prohibited tech developers from accessing the data of users' friends after discovering the Cambridge Analytica breach in 2015, but the makers of cell phones and other devices were not subject to the restriction. It also gathered "identifying information for almost 295,000 Facebook users" by retrieving data on second-degree contacts, the newspaper said. This took a lot of time - and Facebook was not able to get to everyone.

Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing, the New York Times found.

Many online companies use APIs - including NPR, which relies on them to distribute online stories to member stations.

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The worst thing about the latest revelation involving Facebook Inc. and its questionable stewardship of people's personal information is that the company has again shown that it never learns from its own mistakes. "You have complete control over who sees it and how you share it". Usually collected when users log into their accounts through the Facebook app.

But the report raised concerns that massive databases on users and their friends - including personal data and photographs - could be in the hands of device makers as it did with Cambridge Analytica.

But Facebook said that this was only done to help offer a mobile service.

The partnerships themselves are no big secret - Facebook has been cultivating them for years, and they're often announced publicly, as Facebook confirmed in a blog post.

Archibong said that these device interfaces are "very different" from the type of public interfaces that allowed Cambridge Analytica to harvest data on millions of users. Facebook released the documents last month, but provided the lawmakers with the name of only one partner - BlackBerry - and little information about how its agreement with the device maker worked.

They said its partnerships were governed by contracts that strictly limited use of the data, including any stored on partners' servers, adding that they knew of no cases where the information had been misused.

Brace yourselves, Facebook users: another privacy scandal may be afoot.