Facebook Allowed Spotify to Read Your Private Messages

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Internal Facebook records describe data-sharing deals that benefited more than 150 companies a report has found
Facebook reportedly gave tech giants access to users' private messages

20 December, 2018

According to a scorching report in the New York Times, the social network gave business partners plenty of access to the data of its billions of users.

Facebook has already been called before lawmakers in the USA and elsewhere to defend its data policies since news broke this year on the misuse of personal data in 2016 by Cambridge Analytica, a British consultancy working on Donald Trump's campaign. A spokeswoman for Yandex, which was accused previous year by Ukraine's security service of funneling its user data to the Kremlin, said the company was unaware of the access and did not know why Facebook had allowed it to continue.

Some of the reported loopholes were more or less transparent to the end user, and may even have enabled fairer competition.

Apple had special access to users' phone numbers and calendar entries. From Russian company Yandex to Chinese firm Huawei and the equally-irresponsible Yahoo, Facebook continued to offer these companies access to user data years after the company stopped sharing this data with other applications.

In a statement published on its website on Wednesday, Facebook said its partnerships or features did not give companies access to information without people's permission.

Earlier this month, Facebook revealed the existence of a bug which may have permitted unauthorized access to the private photos 6.8 million users. Spotify, too, said it was not aware of the broad powers Facebook had handed over. The scale of the business these companies do with Facebook underpins the value of their relationship.

It's another damning insight into the data-sharing practices of the world's biggest social network in the latest in a stream of privacy scandals that rocked the company this year.

The New York Times report comes after Facebook has been reeling from a series of privacy scandals
STUFFThe New York Times report comes after Facebook has been reeling from a series of privacy scandals

Facebook is a garbage company run by a group of folks who clearly don't care about their stated mission to connect people.

In other words, if you want to be a part of any social life or local political conversations or want to promote your work, that simply means being on Facebook. The NYT notes that unlike Europe, where tech firms have to abide by strict privacy regulations, United States law leaves them free to monetize personal data as long as they don't deceive users. "This is just another form of selling".

Last night, we got word of yet another Facebook privacy scandal.

But it noted that to do this, its members had to have signed into their Facebook accounts to give permission.

"We shouldn't have left the [application program interfaces] in place after we shut down instant personalization", wrote Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, the company's director of developer platforms and programs. They declined to provide details, other than to say the information was used in "feature development" and not for advertising.

It claims that some businesses, including giants like Amazon and Netflix, were given preferential - and what the paper describes as "intrusive" - access to user data, and allowed to circumvent usual privacy rules.

Facebook's response has drawn criticism, even from its former chief security bod, Alex Stamos. Some apps running on older versions of Android require the ability to read text messages in order to automatically fill one-time PINs. For the NY Times to try to scandalize this kind of integration is wrong.

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