Economy

Facebook has reportedly been sharing user data with phone makers for ages

Facebook has reportedly been sharing user data with phone makers for ages

Facebook has formed data-sharing partnerships with 60 device makers, including Apple and Microsoft, giving them access to information of users and even their friends, a media report has claimed, weeks after the social media faced massive backlash for improperly sharing personal data of up to 87 million people.

Facebook has shared data with such companies for years, letting device makers use features such as "like" buttons and address books in their gadget's software.

The Times reported some device makers had access to user data such as relationship status, religion, political leaning and events.

This deal supposedly continued even after Facebook made it known it would comply with the Federal Trade Commission's consent decree, which was meant to put a stop to the gathering of data without a direct agreement between the party and the firm.

Facebook and other internet companies are grappling with a global backlash over the extent to which they hoover up and handle user data.

Bottom line: It's more bad news for Facebook as the social network is again accused of privacy violations.

Apple, Samsung and Microsoft did not immediately respond to requests for comment. "Facebook's view that the device makers are not outsiders lets the partners go even further, The Times found: They can obtain data about a user's Facebook friends, even those who have denied Facebook permission to share information with any third parties".

This was tightly regulated with "signed agreements that prevented people's Facebook information from being used for any other goal than to recreate Facebook-like experiences", according to Archibong, and had to be approved by Facebook to prevent any misuse.

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Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the legislators who questioned Facebook Vice President for Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan in April, said the data partnership violated the privacy of users.

According to Facebook Vice President Ime Archibong, "these partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform" and aren't similar to the way certain apps/games can gain access to your account information. Facebook said that in the device partnerships described by the New York Times, personal data was mostly processed on users' phones.

Unlike developers that provide games and services to Facebook users, the device partners can use Facebook data only to provide versions of "the Facebook experience", the officials were quoted as saying.

Archibong assures that this practice is now winding down due to the popularity of the Android and iOS apps, with Facebook ending 22 of the 60 partnerships already.

In a blog post, Facebook confirmed some parts of the Times' report but disputed others.

Facebook posted a response to the New York Times article.

The social network has been under growing pressure over its handling of user data.