Facebook has been accused of disclosing users’ private information to large tech companies, including Amazon, Netflix, Yahoo, and Spotify, according to a new report by The New York Times.
The report says that the company secretly allowed tech companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify to read, edit, and remove user’s private messages without their knowledge. It also allowed Microsoft to view all Facebook users’ friends without their consent.
The report also revealed that Facebook gave Amazon and Yahoo permission to access users’ names and contact information through their friend list.
As of last year, Sony, Microsoft, Amazon could also obtain users’ email addresses through their friends.
In exchange for sharing users’ private information, Facebook gained more users and, as a result, increased its advertising revenue. Partner companies obtained “features to make their products more attractive”.
In April, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologised to lawmakers in Capitol Hill for Facebook’s role in the Cambridge Data Analytica Scandal.
Facebook responds to allegations
In response to the Times article, Steve Satterfield, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy released a statement, which read: “Facebook’s partners don’t get to ignore people’s privacy settings, and it’s wrong to suggest that they do.
“Over the years, we’ve partnered with other companies so people can use Facebook on devices and platforms that we don’t support ourselves…these partners can only offer specific Facebook features and are unable to use information for independent purposes.”
“We know we’ve got work to do to regain people’s trust,” he added.
Facebook may face expensive data lawsuits
Responding to these accusations, Ilia Kolochenko, CEO and founder of Web security company High-Tech Bridge, said: “If the allegations are true, Facebook may face a colossal volume of individual and collective lawsuits demanding billions in damages, let alone sanctions imposed by regulators from all over the world.
“Many European countries have a persistent budget deficiency and will be happy to jump on this windfall. However, many very complicated issues of law, discovery, the burden of proof and calculation of damages will appear, and the outcomes are far from being certain. Facebook will likely find a way to settle, but the amount may border with the most expensive lawsuits in the history.
“Otherwise, it was pretty clear since the very beginning that nothing is “free” on the Internet. The price Facebook users paid to stay connected and socialised – is their privacy. Our society will either have to accept this or pay for using social networks – nobody will host gigabytes of your data and offer you a 24/7 platform free of charge.”