Published: Wed, December 05, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Facebook gave preferential access to data to certain companies, documents show

Facebook gave preferential access to data to certain companies, documents show

UK Parliament published excerpts from sensitive internal Facebook documents on Wednesday as part of its investigation into fake news and the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica data-sharing scandal.

They include emails sent to and from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other senior Facebook executives.

Damian Collins MP, the chair of the parliamentary committee involved, highlighted several "key issues" in an introductory note.

The emails feature in a case being heard in a California court filed against the giant by the now-defunct USA app developer Six4Three.

Damian Collins, head of the committee, added that Facebook shut off access to data required by competing apps, conducted global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers possibly without their knowledge, and that a change to Facebook's Android app policy that resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made hard for users to know about.

Facebook touted itself as championing privacy four years ago when it made a decision to restrict outsider developers' access to data about its users' friends.

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Facebook, which has described the Six4Three case as baseless, said the released communications are misleading without additional context, but did not elaborate.

But the emails suggest that Facebook followed a set policy of selling the information to a select group of major app developers even after the platform changes were fully deployed in 2015.

"Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform". "We've never sold people's data". Data breaches, allegations of political bias by Facebook in content recommendations and lobbying tactics have also drawn questions from lawmakers.

Facebook has been keen to keep the documents out of the public realm - they are also now held under seal by a court in California - but last week Collins said Parliament would publish them if it felt it was in the public interest to do so.

"Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends Data", Collins wrote in the report. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it".

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