Data sharing deals plague Facebook

THE SOCIAL NETWORK Facebook shared users' data with third-party firms making such as Apple, BlackBerry (???), Microsoft and Samsung, according to The New York Times. And friends' information was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends, he said. As such, it offered APIs to allow device-makers to "recreate Facebook-like experiences of their individual devices or operating systems".

"Partners could not integrate the user's Facebook features with their devices without the user's permission", Ime Archibong, Facebook's VP of product partnerships, wrote in a blog post.

The agency is already investigating if Facebook ran afoul of that accord in another matter: allowing a political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica, to access 87 million users' personal data, including the pages they had "liked" on the site.

Senior Facebook officials, however, defended the data-sharing agreements and claimed that they do no violate the US Federal Trade Commission's 2011 consent decree and are consistent with the company's privacy policies.

"This is yet another concerning example of companies collecting, sharing, and exploiting users' data in completely unexpected ways", commented Privacy International's legal officer Ailidh Callander.

The Times' investigation reportedly found that since around 2007, dozens of tech and device-maker companies were granted broad access to collect data on Facebook users and their online "friends", including friends who had denied Facebook permission to share information with third parties.

The handset ran an app called Hub, which was created to collate information from a variety of social media platforms into one place.

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That happened, the Times Michael LaForgia said via Twitter, despite having deleted the Facebook app from the phone.

What does that software do with the data?

Many online companies use APIs - including NPR, which relies on them to distribute online stories to member stations.

The scandal pummeled Facebook's stock and prompted calls for greater regulation of big social media companies. He stated that if a user does not want their data shared with a third-party company, all they have to do is opt-out. Richard Blumenthal (Conn.) said the new reports showed that Facebook "has failed to come clean with the American people about the extent, the scope and the scale, of data sharing". The deals were struck around the same time the first iPhone was introduced, and when Facebook launched its first mobile website.

And it has said the circumstances were "very different" from those involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which user data was used for different purposes.

Manufacturers of smartphones and tablets are allowed to save and store Facebook user information on their own servers; without any extra oversight or safety precautions to prevent misuse. "We shouldn't have taken their word for it".

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.

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