The New York Times reported Sunday that Facebook struck data-sharing deals with at least 60 device makers, including Apple and Amazon, raising more concerns about what users give up when they use Facebook.
The Times' investigation reportedly found that since around 2007, dozens of tech and device-maker companies were granted broad access to collect data on Facebook users and their online "friends", including friends who had denied Facebook permission to share information with third parties.
Remember, the company has been in damage-control mode since March, when the Times was among the news organizations that disclosed details about how the mysterious political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica was able to obtain information on tens of millions of Facebook users largely without their knowledge or permission, thanks to an endless series of data barn doors that Facebook had left open.
The data-sharing arrangements date from as early as 2008; majority continue through to today, although Facebook began dismantling some of the deals in April - the same month its founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified about privacy protections and political propaganda in Congress.
Facebook told the New York Times that data sharing through device-integrated APIs adhered to its privacy policies and the 2011 FTC agreement. They report that some devices could get information such as religion, political preferences, or relationship status.
U.S. Representative Frank Pallone, a Democrat, said in a statement it was "deeply concerning that Facebook continues to withhold critical details about the information it has and shares with others". The FTC is now investigating Facebook's privacy practices in light of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal. On average, it was estimated that data scientist Aleksandr Kogan paid less than two cents for each Facebook profile used.
On the Hill, Senator Richard Blumenthal said the new reports showed that Facebook "has failed to come clean with the American people about the extent, the scope and the scale, of data sharing". "It's why we announced in April that we're winding down access to them", the company wrote.
"Given that these APIs enabled other companies to recreate the Facebook experience, we controlled them tightly from the get-go", it states.
Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg has testified in front of US Congress and the European Parliament in an attempt to reassure users and governments alike that Facebook is not mishandling the vast amounts of personal data collected by its platform. These partnerships were put in place starting in 2007, with the goal of giving device manufacturers access to Facebook features, while simultaneously spreading the use of Facebook into the mobile sphere. The company said that since iOS and Android are so popular now, not many need these APIs to offer their own custom Facebook experiences. That data then flowed to the BlackBerry app known as The Hub, where BlackBerry users can view all of their messages and social media accounts.
This would mean that the likes of Apple and Samsung have had potential access to user data for some time.
Apple, Samsung and Microsoft did not respond to requests for comment on the matter.