Facebook gave unrestricted access to users’ personal data to more than 150 companies including big names like Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and Yahoo, according to a New York Times report.
Citing Facebook’s internal documents from 2017, the publication revealed how the social media giant considered these companies business partners and exempted them from its privacy rules.
The report, which is also based on interviews from facebook employees, explains how Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read users’ private messages and let Amazon access usernames as well as contact information through friends.
Netflix and Spotify have claimed that they were unaware of the special access.
On the other hand, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, to collect the names of “virtually all Facebook users’ friends” without their consent. It also allowed Yahoo to access “streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer.”
The investigation found that Facebook made deals with over 150 companies including online retailers, media organizations, automakers, and entertainment sites. While Facebook has denied sharing data anymore, NYT found that some of these deals were still active.
Responding to the report, Facebook said it did not give some companies access to people’s data without their permission.
"None of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC," Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs, said in a blog post.
Facebook said what it did was to help users access their Facebook accounts or specific features on devices and platforms built by other companies like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo, known as integration partners.
The company said these partners got access to messages but users “had to explicitly sign in to Facebook first” before using a partner’s messaging feature.
Facebook said it shut down nearly all of these partnerships over the past several months, except Apple and Amazon.