Social media giant Facebook has denied a media report that claimed that it gave some companies access to users’ personal data. The social network said it did not give its partners access to such information without the permission of the users.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported, citing internal Facebook documents it had obtained, that the social network had shared data with more than 150 companies. Facebook gained more users, while its partners were able to add new features to their products through the deals, the report said.
Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the American newspaper reported. It also allowed Netflix and Spotify to read Facebook users’ private messages, it added. While Amazon was given access to users’ names and their contact information through their friends, it let Yahoo view friends’ posts, the report added.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Facebook admitted that companies had access to people’s information, but denied it was done so without the users’ permission. The company said it had helped users access their Facebook accounts or specific features on devices and platforms built by other companies like Apple, Yahoo, Blackberry and Amazon, known as integration partners. Facebook said users had to “explicitly sign in to Facebook first” before using a partner’s messaging feature.
The company said it had shut down its “instant personalisation” process in 2014, which allowed users to link their Facebook accounts with other services to see public information their friends had shared. “We’ve shut down nearly all of these partnerships over the past several months, except with Amazon and Apple, which people continue to find useful and which are covered by active contracts,” Facebook said.
The company further said: “We have no evidence that data was used or misused after the program was shut down.”
Facebook has been embroiled in several public scandals over the past few years, including for its conduct in the run-up to the 2016 United States presidential election. The political consultancy Cambridge Analytica had accessed the private information of 87 million Facebook users worldwide for targeted political advertising, including the 2016 election.
Earlier this month, a British lawmaker released internal emails and other documents of Facebook that showed that the social media network had given companies access to users’ data despite cutting off such access to developers in 2014 and 2015.