Documents Show Facebook Using User Data as Leverage

Documents Show Facebook Using User Data as Leverage

Collins notes that a recurring theme in the 250-page cache of documents is that Facebook pushed the "idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers' relationship with Facebook". The good news about full reciprocity [where apps let users share their activity back to Facebook] is that for bigger social companies we might otherwise be anxious about, if they're enabling their users to push all of their social content back into Facebook then we're probably fine with them.

Committee chair Damian Collins said it was not clear from the private exchanges between Facebook and app developers whether users were aware that their friends list and other private information was being used.

In one email, CEO Mark Zuckerberg writes "There's a big question on where we get the revenue from".

Zuckerberg in 2012 underestimated how much giving developers access to data could be a risk.

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Facebook gave certain companies like Lyft, Netflix and Airbnb preferential treatment by allowing them to access users' data, according to a massive trove of secret documents and emails released by a British parliamentary committee on Wednesday. "It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not".

However, The Verge reports that according to the emails Facebook developers tried finding ways to manipulate Android's data permissions so that it could automatically enrol users. They used this to find out how many people had downloaded apps and how often they used them.

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

"We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers", said Facebook's spokeswoman. The company denies that claim, arguing instead that, while it could have required developers to buy advertising, "we ultimately settled on a model where developers did not need to purchase advertising to access APIs and we continued to provide the developer platform for free". "I think we leak info to developers, but I just can't think if any instances where that data has leaked from developer to developer and caused a real issue for us", he wrote in one of the emails. In 2015, Facebook staff discussed "a feature that lets you continuously upload your SMS and call log history to Facebook to be used for improving things like [People You May Know, a friend recommendation feature], coefficient calculation, feed ranking, etc".

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