Facebook gave tech companies such as Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify, access to user data — including private messages — in ways that were not previously disclosed by the social media giant, the New York Times reported.
Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read users’ private messages. They allowed Microsoft’s search engine Bing to see the names of Facebook users’ friends without permission, and they let Amazon find users’ names and contact information through their friends on the platform, according to the report.
Facebook gave access to user data to about 150 companies in all, including banks, tech companies, retailers and media organization, the Times reported.
The Times report raises concern about Facebook’s 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, which states the company cannot share user data “without explicit permission.”
“This is just giving third parties permission to harvest data without you being informed of it or giving consent to it,” David Vladeck, who ran the FTC’s consumer protection bureau, told The Times. “I don’t understand how this unconsented-to data harvesting can at all be justified under the consent decree.”
Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy at Facebook, said in a statement to The Post that the partnerships do not violate their users’ privacy.
“Facebook’s partners don’t get to ignore people’s privacy settings, and it’s wrong to suggest that they do,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve partnered with other companies so people can use Facebook on devices and platforms that we don’t support ourselves. Unlike a game, streaming music service, or other third-party app, which offer experiences that are independent of Facebook, these partners can only offer specific Facebook features and are unable to use information for independent purposes.”