Documents show Facebook gave preferential access to data to certain companies

Posted December 06, 2018

Facebook wielded user data like a bargaining chip, providing access when that sharing might encourage people to spend more time on the social network - and imposing strict limits on partners in cases where it saw a potential competitive threat, emails show.

The defunct app developer obtained them as part of its ongoing lawsuit in California state court alleging that Facebook violated promises to app developers when it ended their access to likes, photos and other data of users' friends in 2015.

-Mark Zuckerberg wanted "full reciprocity" between Facebook and app developers i.e. you share all your data on users with us, and we'll share all of ours with you. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it".

In the summary of findings, Damian Collins, chairman of the British Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that investigated Facebook over the Cambridge Analytica data scandal earlier this year, promptly calls out the social network's data privacy practices. "Sometimes the best way to enable people to share something is to have a developer build a special objective app or network for that type of content and to make that app social by having Facebook plug into it". The files were seized by United Kingdom authorities just over a week ago when Ted Kramer, founder of USA software firm Six4Three, was in London.

Though filed under seal and redacted in the lawsuit, Collins said the material needed to be made public because "they raise important questions about how Facebook treats users' data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market". The idea of tying access to this data to the developer's relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature throughout the documents.

Westminster has published secret documents which indicate Facebook collected records of its users' phone calls and text messages. "Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform", Facebook said in an emailed statement.

Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs Konstantinos Papamiltiadis told AFP last week that the company "has never sold anyone's data".

Included in the confidential emails released by the Parliament's media committee was information showing that Facebook used an Israeli app it had acquired to monitor users' iPhone usage, using that information to identify competitors. It deliberately made it harder for users to be aware of this happening in order to avoid bad PR, the MP stressed.