Sci-tech

Facebook 'not aware of any abuse' of data by phone makers

Facebook 'not aware of any abuse' of data by phone makers

Parakilas told the Financial Times that while Facebook said it had blocked apps from acquiring the data held by app users' friends, "in the case of hardware manufacturers they didn't do that".

The social media giant launched software 10 years ago that allowed the companies to access the data of users' friends without their explicit consent - even after it declared it would no longer share such material with outsiders, the New York Times reported.

But privacy advocates have fretted that users may not have been aware of the extent that data about them, or their friends, had been transferred in the process.

It also claims that the firms could access the data of users' friends.

"Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have "complete control" over who sees our data on Facebook", Cicilline wrote on Twitter. The reporters found that the app not only accessed extensive information about the reporter's profile, it got ahold of similar data from his friends, and from friends of friends, too. A further 294,258 users had their unique identifier revealed through their connections with the original account.

Apple acknowledged having private access to Facebook data, but said that stopped last September.

Facebook argues that it hasn't broken any rules.

Facebook admitted that some of these "service provider" partners did store the data of users and their friends on their own servers.

Facebook had responded to the Cambridge Analytica scandal by stating that it ceased allowing such third-party access in 2015, but the NYT reports that this doesn't appear to include device makers.

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"These contracts and partnerships are entirely consistent with Facebook's FTC consent decree", Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of Product Partnerships, in a statement. 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.

"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", Archibong added.

Archibong said Facebook approved each of the experiences that were built, and that they worked differently to its public, platform APIs.

But the USA company contends those pacts were meant to help device makers create their own versions of Facebook apps, and the data mostly remained on phones that accessed it.

Such integrations were perhaps necessary at a time when smartphones didn't have adequate specifications to run Facebook apps.

But - if that's true - why did it not also terminate these contracts with device manufacturers that gave companies the ability to do the exact same thing as what Cambridge Analytica was doing?

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

"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 revelation of such contracts calls into question whether the company adhered to the 2011 settlement it reached with the Federal Trade Commission, forcing the company to enact a number of measures to ensure users' information isn't shared without their consent. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from NY to Texas.