During the last decade, as Facebook was expanding it entered into data-sharing agreements with more than 60 leading phone manufacturers such as Apple, Samsung, and Microsoft. The full scope of these partnerships is only emerging now and it seems that Facebook allowed companies deep access to users’ private data and even the data of user’s friends.
On June 6, Facebook confirmed that it has a data-sharing agreement with Chinese companies, including Huawei which was previously flagged as a security threat by the US intelligence, as reported by BBC.
In fact, most of the deals made in the last decade remain in effect even now. Although, Facebook is reportedly winding them down.
These deals helped Facebook to reach an enormous number of users, while the device makers offered popular features of the social network to the users.
There are reports that Facebook did not abide by their declaration that they would no longer share private information without the consent of the users.
There are cases where the device makers retrieved the information even after the users denied to give the consent for the same, as reported by New York Times.
— Freedom of the Press (@FreedomofPress) June 4, 2018
In March 2018, a political firm named Cambridge Analytica misused the information and brought Facebook under scrutiny by regulators and lawmakers.
In explanation, Facebook said that the kind of access that was given to Cambridge Analytica in 2014 was cut off the next year. However, Facebook did not disclose then that the phone and other hardware manufacturers are still outside the restrictions.
“It’s like having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission,” said Ashkan Soltani, a research, and privacy consultant told the New York Times.
In an appearance before the Congress in March this year, Mark Zuckerburg claimed, “Every piece of content that you share on Facebook you own. You have complete control over who sees it and how you share it.”
“This was flagged internally as a privacy issue,” stated Sandy Parakilas, who left Facebook in 2012 and has emerged as a harsh critic of the company.
“It is shocking that this practice may continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook’s testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled,” he added.
However, according to Washington Post, Archibong, an official at Facebook said, “These contracts and partnerships are entirely consistent with Facebook’s FTC consent decree.”
Disagreeing to which Jessica Rich, a former FTC official who helped lead the commission’s earlier Facebook investigation said, “Under Facebook’s interpretation, the exception swallows the rule. They could argue that any sharing of data with third parties is part of the Facebook experience. Moreover, this is not at all how the public interpreted their 2014 announcement that they would limit third-party app access to friend data.”