Published: Wed, June 06, 2018
Tech | By Amelia Peters

Your smartphone was probably sharing your friends’ Facebook data behind your back

Your smartphone was probably sharing your friends’ Facebook data behind your back

They continued to share data with device OEMs even when third-party data sharing was disabled, though still has noted that users could consent (or not) to share their data. A prominent American daily says the company has given phone makers vast access to personal information of its subscribers. According to The New York Times report, Facebook entered into a partnership with dozens of device makers to make its social experience available on those phones. "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". A week earlier it emerged that the data firm Cambridge Analytica may have gotten access to the data of up to 87 million users and that most of Facebook's 2 billion users may have had their personal data skimmed by "malicious actors".

Developers who signed up for access to the Facebook Graph API used to be able to get data on the friends of people using apps that integrated the API, provided those users had authenticated themselves via login. Apple tells the Times its access to the data ended in September; Amazon and Samsung declined to comment.

The company has since terminated 22 partnerships with device makers, he added.Shares of Facebook were down 1.8% pre-market at 6:34 am in NY on Monday, following a similar trend in Europe where it was down 2.2% at the same time in Frankfurt.Facebook is retooling its approach amid a global consumer and regulatory backlash.

Facebook still has not answered hundreds of written questions submitted from members of Congress after Zuckerberg's testimony in April, according to congressional staff.

In response, Facebook said, "Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends' information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends".

Here's a short list of all the companies that might have gotten their hands on your very intimate Facebook data without your knowledge: Global Science Research, S.C.L. Group (Cambridge Analytica's parent company), AggregateIQ. The problem lies in the level of access granted to these private APIs, which raises concerns over the amount of data shared with these third-parties.

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But the Times said that the user permissions were not always explicit as required by the 2011 consent decree with the FTC. They said the new reports only heightened the need for additional scrutiny - in Congress and at the FTC - focused on Facebook's business practices.

To test how much access was granted to a device, the Times says that when it recently had a reporter log into his Facebook account on a Blackberry from 2013 (when the company still used its proprietary operating system), the device retrieved personal information about the reporter's 500 friends.

The Times said the Facebook messages and data were routed to a BlackBerry app called the Hub, which was created to aggregate and centralize instant messages, emails, text messages and notifications from many sources, including social-networking services. The Times reports that most of the partnerships are still in effect, though Facebook started shutting them down in April, during its soul searching on privacy and data practices in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

Facebook said in a statement the company looks "forward to addressing any questions the Commerce Committee may have".

"This company from what I've seen has disregarded a consent decree and behaved in a way that is inimical to consumers' interest", Vladeck said.

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