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Sunday, July 01, 2018
Facebook Handed User Data to Apps, Others


Facebook gave to hardware companies and app developers special access to user data despite a 2015 promise that it restricted personal information to outsiders, according to a 747-page document to sent by the social network to the U.S. Congress.

Facebook described the actions in a document submitted to the House Energy and Commerce Committee late Friday evening in response to hundreds of questions lawmakers had asked company executives.

The disclosures come amid widening scrutiny of how well Facebook protects the personal information of the network's users and their friends.

Facebook said it made the special arrangements so hardware and software makers could ensure Facebook worked on their devices and operating systems, and application developers had time to comply with the company's stricter access policies.

Fifty-two hardware and software makers -- including Apple, Blackberry, Amazon and Microsoft - had access to the data. The list also includes Chinese firms such as Huawei and Alibaba, some of which gave generated national security concerns.

Facebook said it has ended 38 of the 52 partnerships. It said it will shut down an additional seven by the end of July and another one by the end of October. Among the handful that will continue beyond that are those with Amazon, Apple and Alibaba.

"We engaged companies to build integrations for a variety of devices, operating systems and other products where we and our partners wanted to offer people a way to receive Facebook or Facebook experiences," the company said in the documents. "These integrations were built by our partners, for our users, but approved by Facebook."

The company said it forged the relationships before the spread of iPhone and Android operating systems that have allowed consumers to easily access the Web. Back then, people "went online using a wide variety of text-only phones, feature phones and early smartphones with varying capabilities," Facebook said.

Facebook also gave 61 app developers about six months beyond a May 2015 deadline to comply with more restrictive access to Facebook's computer programming code. Those developers included companies such as AOL, Audi, Panasonic and Hinge, a dating app, which also had information on users' friends, such as phone numbers.

The deals with developers and hardware and software makers were reported by the Wall Street Journal and New York Times early last month.



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