Facebook let Spotify and Netflix snoop on your private messages

Ann Santiago
December 20, 2018

Netflix, Spotify, and the Royal Bank of Canada could read, write, and even delete private messages to help them tailor their product offerings and target customers.

The deals were all active in 2017, and some were still in effect this year, the Times reported.

Facebook has found itself the subject of yet more shouty headlines as details of deals that gave more than 150 companies special access to user data were spilled.

Facebook gave tech companies such as Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify, access to user data - including private messages - in ways that were not previously disclosed by the social media giant, the New York Times reported.

In response to this information, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy stated that none of these partnerships had violated the privacy of its users, and required its partners to abide by the website's policies.

Revelations of Facebook's partnerships with Netflix, Spotify, Yahoo, Microsoft and Amazon were detailed in hundreds of internal Facebook documents obtained by The Times.

Facebook said it shut down almost all of these partnerships over the past several months, except Apple and Amazon.

In addition, the company confirmed specific features that enabled the user access but said users had issued consent. "Over the years, we've partnered with other companies so people can use Facebook on devices and platforms that we don't support ourselves".

We'll likely hear more statements like this from top brass, insisting that, yes, they can do better, but that the partnerships they forged were nonetheless kosher. "You would have had to sign in with your Facebook account to use the integration offered by Apple, Amazon or another integration partner". "At no time did we access people's private messages on Facebook or ask for the ability to do so", Netflix said in an emailed statement.

Acknowledging that it had breached users' trust, Facebook insisted that it implemented stricter privacy protections and Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive, assured lawmakers in April that people "have complete control" over everything they share on Facebook.

"Facebook empowered Apple to hide from Facebook users all indicators that its devices were asking for data". In return, Facebook got to spread its net wider, bring in new users and exploit this to boost ad revenues. The social network said in April that data firm Cambridge Analytica may have harvested information on as many as 87 million users without their knowledge.

"There has been an endless barrage of how Facebook has ignored users' privacy settings, and we truly believed that in 2011 we had solved this problem", said Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, an online privacy group that filed one of the first complaints about Facebook with federal regulators. The spokesperson said Netflix shut the feature in 2015 as it was not popular.

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