Facebook accused of giving access to users’ data

UK Parliament publishes reams of Facebook docs exposing firm's machinations for user data

Facebook is being sued by an app developer.

Dating app Badoo and ride-hailing app Lyft were among other companies "whitelisted" for access to data about users' friends, the documents showed.

"Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data", the committee said in a statement preceding the emails.

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.

Parliament seized the documents from now defunct app developer Six4Three at the end of November during a trip by the company's founder to London. According to Bloomberg, the California courts sealed the emails, but the United Kingdom compelled the Six4Three founder to hand over a laptop containing the emails, which were acquired during discovery, when the founder visited London.

The UK parliament's select media committee published more than 200 pages of internal Facebook emails it has acquired while probing how the giant was being used to manipulate major election results.

"The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps, with the effect that denying them access to data led to the failure of that business", said Collins. He explained his rationale for releasing the emails in a tweet: "We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents".

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In other cases Zuckerberg eloquently espoused the value of giving software developers more access to user data in hopes that it would result in applications that, in turn, would encourage people to do more on Facebook.

Facebook knew collecting call records and text message history was sensitive, but did it anyway, according to leaked emails.

Facebook wants the laptop to be evaluated to determine what happened in the United Kingdom, to what extent the court order was breached, and how much of its confidential information has been divulged to the committee.

"We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers", the company said in a statement. With regards to Onavo, Facebook argues "we've always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used, including by Facebook".

The documents suggest robust internal discussions about linking data to revenue.

As Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Wednesday blog post, the company limited access to data to "prevent abusive apps" starting in 2014.

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