‘Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress’: Democrat on Facebook report

Facebook says it “disagrees” with the New York Times’ criticisms of its device-integrated APIs		
		
	Catherine Shu

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   	8 hours

The report reveals that Facebook has been sharing the data of users, their friends, and the friends of their friends, with at least 60 device makers.

The issue here is not that a Facebook user can access data about friends and friends-of-friends-it's that they're giving a non-Facebook company's software access to that information.

While the device partnerships allowed Facebook to expand its reach, it let the phone makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, "like" buttons and address books.

The Times report says Facebook allowed the companies access to the data of friends of the user without their explicit consent, a practice that landed the company in the crosshairs of Congress during the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook is under heightened scrutiny after an acknowledgement earlier this year that since 2015 a third-party application had handed over the data of up to 50 million platform users through developer Aleksandr Kogan to Cambridge Analytica - a consulting group that has worked on several high-profile political campaigns, including that of President Donald Trump's.

Microsoft said its API access ended in 2008, adding that the bridge was used to do things like add contacts and receive notifications, and that all data was stored locally on the user's device.

"I think there is a lack of transparency for users across many platforms" not just Facebook, the U.K.'s Information Commissioner, told the civil liberties committee of the European Union institution in Brussels on Monday evening. So far there's no evidence that phone and tablet makers used Facebook data improperly, in sharp contrast to Cambridge Analytica consultants.

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At the centre of that consent decree is a requirement that Facebook be more transparent about the data it collects about its users.

"This is yet another concerning example of companies collecting, sharing, and exploiting users' data in completely unexpected ways", said the group's legal officer, Ailidh Callander. As a result, the social network allowed companies access to the data of user's friends without their explicit consent, raising concerns about whether the social network breached a consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission from 2011.

Kogan developed an app that required people to sign in using their Facebook accounts - and that then harvested data about those users and their friends, that was then used by Cambridge Analytica to develop psychological profiles of US voters ahead of the 2016 presidential election. "We tightly controlled these APIs from the get-go", Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, said in an interview.

On the Hill, Senator Richard Blumenthal said the new reports showed that Facebook "has failed to come clean with the American people about the extent, the scope and the scale, of data sharing".

That data from NPR is meant to be public - unlike the majority of Facebook users, who don't want their information broadly disseminated.

Just when the world seemed to be forgetting Cambridge Analytica, Facebook might have another major privacy scandal on its hands.

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.

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