Facebook on Tuesday said that it has data-sharing partnerships with at least four Chinese electronics companies, including a manufacturing company that has close ties with China’s government, reported The New York Times.
The social media company said computer maker Lenovo Group, and smartphone makers Huawei, OPPO and TCL Corp were among about 60 companies that received access to some user data after they signed contracts to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their users, reported Reuters. Huawei has come under the scrutiny of intelligence officials in the United States over security concerns.
Members of the US Congress had raised concerns after The New York Times on Sunday reported that Facebook allowed nearly 60 companies, including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry and Microsoft, to access data of users’ friends without their explicit consent. Facebook denied the claims and said the data access was meant to allow its users to access account features on mobile devices.
The deals were part of an effort by the social media company to push mobile users onto the social network starting in 2007. This was before stand-alone Facebook apps worked well on phones, reported The New York Times. The agreements allowed device makers to offer some Facebook features, such as address books, ‘like’ buttons and status updates.
US Senator Mark Warner, who is the vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said reports that Huawei was among the companies getting access to Facebook data raised “legitimate concerns”, reported BBC.
A report by the committee asked whether the firms were close to China’s Communist Party and its military. It also suggested that their products and services could pose a long-term security threat to the US.
Francisco Varela, vice president of mobile partnerships for Facebook, said that Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, OPPO and TCL “were controlled from the get-go”, reported Reuters.