Data sharing deals plague Facebook


"We are not aware of any abuse by these companies", added Archibong. Before app stores became common, the APIs enabled Facebook to strike data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers, including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, that allowed them to offer Facebook features, such as messaging, address books and the like button, to their users.

The revelation of such contracts calls into question whether the company adhered to the 2011 settlement it reached with the Federal Trade Commission, forcing the company to enact a number of measures to ensure users' information isn't shared without their consent.

Former Facebook privacy compliance official Sandy Parakilas, now a bigtime Facebook critic, told the paper that the device partnerships had been "flagged internally as a privacy issue", and it was "shocking" that the data-sharing is still going on.

Facebook has responded with a blog headlined "Why we disagree with the New York Times". "What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent", Winkelmeier-Becker told The New York Times.

Facebook admitted that some of these "service provider" partners did store the data of users and their friends on their own servers.

Apple has confirmed it is among those to have stopped using the APIs, and said that it had mainly employed them to let users post pictures and other information without first having to open the Facebook app.

Facebook might have thought that it could ease up now that the Cambridge Analytica privacy scandal was dying down slightly, but a New York Times report has again put the company's policies under a spotlight.

Ime Archibong, a Facebook vice president, says that the partnerships with device makers are there just to help them provide users of their products with "versions of the Facebook experience".

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In interviews to NYT, Facebook defended its data-sharing agreement and asserted that these are consistent with its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

A Blackberry spokesman said the company "did not collect or mine" the data given by Facebook.

Many makers of phones and tablets allow people to use Facebook without actually opening the Facebook app, by integrating some of its functionality into their own software. He was able to obtain information about 556 of his friends.

The Times reported some device makers had access to user data such as relationship status, religion, political leaning and events.

Was your Facebook data shared with Cambridge Analytica?

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.

Meanwhile, Facebook said it started winding down the partnerships in April, as they were no longer needed to serve users.