Facebook accused of sharing your personal data with OEMs

Facebook accused of sharing your personal data with OEMs

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A report from The New York Times has accused Facebook of sharing your personal data with OEMs such as Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung. The data has allegedly been shared over the past decade.

When Facebook first started out, the company made at least 60 deals with device OEMs to preload the application on their devices. While that may not be a problem, they also provided private APIs which allowed OEMs to incorporate the site’s functionality into the operating system itself. This includes address book integration, photo sharing, and more. The problem lies in the level of access granted to these private APIs, which raises concerns over the amount of data shared with these third-parties. The company claims that these private APIs were “tightly controlled” in a statement posted on the Facebook newsroom.

“Given that these APIs enabled other companies to recreate the Facebook experience, we controlled them tightly from the get-go. These partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences. Partners could not integrate the user’s Facebook features with their devices without the user’s permission. And our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built.”

The New York Times reports that when using a Blackberry Z10 and logging into the Facebook Hub app, they were able to retrieve detailed data on 556 friends of the owner of the device. This included their relationship status, religious and political opinions, and upcoming events they had marked themselves as attending. Furthermore, the app was able to uniquely identify another 294,258 people. This level of access was apparently pulled back from third-parties in 2015, though the company apparently does not consider Blackberry a third-party in this case. They continued to share data with device OEMs even when third-party data sharing was disabled, though still has noted that users could consent (or not) to share their data.

Sandy Parakilas, who worked at the company in 2012 and led third-party advertising and privacy compliance for the platform, also spoke to The New York Times. “This was flagged internally as a privacy issue,” Parakilas said, “It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook’s testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled.”

The social media giant says that they have ended 22 of these deals and are working to wind down more of them due to a decreased reliance on these private APIs.

Source: The New York Times