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Facebook Let Netflix and Spotify Read Users' Private Messages

20 December, 2018, 09:24 | Author: Kristi Dunn
  • A woman looks at the Facebook logo on an iPad in this

The deals between the companies were created to benefit both parties: Facebook would gain more users and become more embedded across websites while the outside companies would be able to tailor their products more effectively.

Facebook gave companies such as Apple, Amazon and Yahoo extensive access to users' personal data, effectively exempting them from the company's usual privacy rules, according to a New York Times report. The downward trend for Facebook's stock price is not new, in the last six months the company's shares have fallen almost 5 percent. They also, however, said that there were deals that gave companies access but they have all since ended.

The internal documents obtained by the Times have not been made public. Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo representatives told the Times that they used the data appropriately, without further elaboration.

Facebook released a statement today saying that all of the access these companies were granted was done with user permission, including the ability to write and delete messages.

Spotify, which could view messages of more than 70 million users a month, still offers the option to share music through Facebook Messenger. For example, Spotify was given access to the messaging app so they could integrate a feature where users can send spotify songs and playlists via messager. This has since been discontinued.

"Still, we recognize that we've needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information", he added.

In response to The Time's report; Netflix and Spotify claimed that they were unaware of broad accesses granted by Facebook. "It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015".

Moreover, if media companies like The Times are potentially being granted special access to things like private Facebook messages, are reporters privy to this kind of information?

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Amazon's access allegedly lets the company access user's names and contact information via their friends on Facebook.

Facebook even recategorized one company, the Russian search giant Yandex, as an integration partner.

"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. Amazon, for example, could see users' names and contact information through their friends.

Amazon uses the information in accordance with its own privacy policy, he said.

The spokesperson declined to answer additional questions.

Facebook enabled partners to offer services that tap into Facebook accounts and features. In other words, if you'd signed into Spotify via your Facebook account - as Spotify required when it first was launched in the United States - Facebook believed you had implicitly consented to Spotify's reading your messages.

The fact is, the details of each integration deal remain hazy; while overall, the privacy-violating horror show has brought to light the price of personalization online, and the haphazardness of tech companies when it comes to handling consumer data. Facebook also allowed Apple to hide all indications that its devices were retrieving data from users.

Another problem is the timeline - numerous deals referred to were still active in 2017, and some continued into this year. "Some were still in effect this year".

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