Investigation reveals Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify access to user's private messages

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Internal Facebook records describe data-sharing deals that benefited more than 150 companies a report has found

According to the New York Times, citing internal documents and interviews with former employees, the social network gave tech companies deep access to user data. BlackBerry, Yahoo, and Russian internet company Yandex all were reportedly given some access as part of these partnerships; they certainly would not all be acting in the same interests as Facebook when given user data.

Facebook also allowed Microsoft's Bing search engine, to collect the names of "virtually all Facebook users' friends" without their consent. The deals were made over the years, dating back to as early as 2010. Apple told the New York Times it was unaware that it had special access, and of the data described would never leave the user's device.

Although many companies are listed in the piece, it's Netflix and Spotify that have been highlighted as being able to access, and even delete, private messages. "But Netflix and the Canadian bank no longer needed access to messages because they had deactivated features that incorporated it".

"Over the years, we've partnered with other companies so people can use Facebook on devices and platforms that we don't support ourselves", he said.

It said this was so people could log in to services such as Spotify with their Facebook account and then send messages through the Spotify app. In return, Facebook got to spread its net wider, bring in new users and exploit this to boost ad revenues.

Last week, it was reported that a bug may have exposed millions of Facebook users' private photos to third party apps. The company has spent the year trying to update its security and answer questions about the scandal from US lawmakers and overseas policy makers.

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

The report marked yet another potential embarrassment for Facebook, which has been roiled by a series of scandals on data protection and privacy and has been scrutinised over the hijacking of user data in the 2016 USA election campaign. The companies include Microsoft, Amazon and Yahoo.

The documents reviewed by the Times raise questions of whether Facebook's data-sharing agreements ran afoul of a consent decree issued by the Federal Trade Commission meant to monitor how Facebook tracks and shares data about its users.

"We know we've got work to do to regain people's trust". "However, we shouldn't have left the APIs in place after we shut down instant personalization".

Netflix issued a statement through a spokesperson, saying, "Over the years we have tried various ways to make Netflix more social".

Most of the companies with which Facebook shared data under the arrangements were tech firms such as "online retailers and entertainment sites", according to the report, but they also included automakers and media organizations.

"Throughout our engagement with Facebook, we respected all user preferences", a Microsoft spokesman said in a statement.

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