Facebook shares dropped significantly when the New York Times reported that the social media company allowed more than 150 companies (including Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify) to access more users’ personal data than it had previously disclosed.
According to the report, the social network had allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, and allowed other companies to read Facebook users’ private messages.
Steve Satterfield, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy, claimed that none of the partnerships violated users’ privacy, or a 2011 agreement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to require explicit permission from members before sharing their data.
Facebook has admitted it allowed other big tech companies to read users’ private messages, but denies it did so without consent.
Facebook said it 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 shared. But it admitted the software components for the service were left in place after it shut down, potentially allowing developers to continue accessing users’ personal information. Facebook said it has “no evidence data was used or misused after the program was shut down.”
This is pretty bad for Facebook as it’s yet another case where the company has shown little regard for its users and prioritised money above privacy.
But, it’s not as bad as it may seem as the other companies involved appear to have had APPS and services that used specific data from Facebook and users had given permission although they may not have known exactly what they were giving permission for.
One day, Facebook may start treating its users properly – we can only hope for that miracle.
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