Facebook let SIXTY companies have 'deep access personal data about users'

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The NYT article in question details partnerships Facebook has or had with about 60 different companies - including Samsung, Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and more - that gave those companies access not only to your data but your friends' data.

The report stated that the deals let Facebook expand its reach, and gave manufacturers access to popular Facebook features such as messaging, like buttons, and contact information that could be synchronised with address books.

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. Facebook has been under extensive scrutiny since March, when revelations were made of its massive data breach scandal involving British company Cambridge Analytica. Not that this is likely to satisfy Blumenthal and Markey - there's no guarantee they'll take action, but they clearly want more explicit promises of privacy than Facebook has offered so far.

Unlike developers that provide games and services to Facebook users, the device partners can use Facebook data only to provide versions of "the Facebook experience", the officials were quoted as saying.

It said Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Amazon were among others to have struck data-sharing agreements.

"I think there is a lack of transparency for users across many platforms" not just Facebook, the U.K.'s Information Commissioner, told the civil liberties committee of the European Union institution in Brussels on Monday evening.

"This is yet another concerning example of companies collecting, sharing, and exploiting users' data in completely unexpected ways", said the group's legal officer, Ailidh Callander.

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The new accusations center on Facebook's use of special APIs - application programming interfaces - that it created to allow users' data and profile information to be integrated into devices.

Facebook's defense: In a detailed blog post, the company said these deals have been closely controlled, and "we are not aware of any abuse by these companies".

"These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform", Ime Archibong, Facebook vice president told the daily.

But the New York Times report claims that Facebook's partners were able to retrieve user data on relationship status, religion, political leanings and upcoming events, and were also able to get data about their users' Facebook friends, even if they did not have permission.

Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the legislators who questioned Facebook Vice President for Global Public Policy Joel Kaplan in April, said the data partnership violated the privacy of users.

The data concerns are just the latest privacy issue for Facebook, which is still dealing with the fallout from its Cambridge Analytica scandal. "Individuals cannot be expected to be able to weigh the risks and benefits of sharing their personal information, when the transaction is mostly completely opaque by design and they can't trust what companies are telling them". Feature phones continued to outsell smartphones in North America for several more years, and feature phones still dominate the markets in India and Africa, which have tens of millions of Facebook users.

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