December 20, 2018 at
Facebook has been a center of a number of controversies recently, and the trend does not show any signs of stopping. According to new information, the social media giant has allowed a number of other companies — such as Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Microsoft, and even the Royal Bank of Canada — access to private user data. These, and many others were allowed to read, write, as well as delete Facebook users’ private messages, and spy on their private conversations.
Companies accessing Facebook users’ data
According to reports, Spotify — a popular music streaming service — had access to messages of over 70 million Facebook users per month. A similar situation was reported when it comes to companies such as Yahoo, Microsoft, and Amazon, all without user consent.
The report revealing this information was published on Tuesday by The New York Times after it accessed hundreds of pages of Facebook-owned documents from 2017. The documents in question also detailed Facebook’s methods of tracking different partnerships.
As for Microsoft, Facebook allegedly allowed its search engine, Bing, to gain insight into Facebook users’ friends without consent, or even their knowledge about the intrusion. This becomes even more troublesome due to the fact that Facebook allows users to hide the Friends list from outsiders, as well as from those found on the list.
In Amazon’s case, Facebook provided the company with the ability to extract names and contact information via their friends. Yahoo even had the ability to monitor streams of friends’ posts on the platform. Even Yandex, a large Russian-based multinational corporation had access to users’ unique IDs.
Facebook partially confirms the allegations
While Facebook has admitted to allowing companies access its users’ data, it claims that there is no evidence of information abuse by any of the mentioned firms. Facebook’s Director of Developer Platforms and Programs, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, has posted a statement admitting this. However, Papamiltiadis also points out that it was done so that users can sign into their Facebook account in different services’ desktop apps in order to be able to send and receive messages without having to leave the app itself.
Netflix and Spotify, on the other hand, declared that they were not aware of the broad access that Facebook has been granting. Furthermore, Netflix denied ever asking for such access or using it for invading Facebook users’ privacy.
Netflix never asked for, or accessed, anyone’s private messages. We’re not the type to slide into your DMs.
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 19, 2018
Since the report was published, Microsoft also issued a statement, claiming that their partnership with Facebook ended in February 2016. However, they stressed that the company respected all user preferences during their collaboration with the social network.
As for the Royal Bank of Canada, the bank’s spokesman openly denied having a level of access that would allow them to read, write, or delete private messages.
The controversies continue
As mentioned, Facebook has been making headlines throughout 2018, and it was always for the wrong, controversial reasons. The first and largest controversy so far relates to the Cambridge Analytica incident, when a political consulting company was discovered to have access to over 50 million Facebook users’ personal details.
The company was also accused of misusing such data for different purposes, such as to influence the US Presidential elections and the Brexit campaign.
Next, in June 2018, it was discovered that a Facebook bug exposed 14 million Facebook users’ private posts, which was followed by a large hacking attack which stole data of more than 30 million users in October 2018. Only a month later, in November, BBC disclosed that a number of hackers are attempting to sell Facebook messages belonging to 81,000 hacked accounts.
Finally, less than a week ago, on December 14th, Facebook stated that a bug in its Photo API left photos belonging to 6.8 million users exposed to third-party app creators.