Facebook admits some data-sharing deals continued into 2015

Published with permission by Knowhere News

Facebook disclosed Friday that it shared personal information from its users’ profiles with other companies after the date when the company had said it cut off third-party developers from access to the data. It came shortly after the company announced that a software bug could have led about 14 million users to publicly share posts they may have meant to be private. The bug, which applied to posts made during ten days in May, has been fixed, according to the company.

Referred to as “whitelists,” the special agreements disclosed Friday allowed companies to access information such as phone numbers of users’ friends and the closeness between users, reported the Wall Street Journal. These deals were mostly separate from 60 or so agreements Facebook revealed earlier this week it had made with device makers. Some major companies with whitelists include RBC Capital Markets and Nissan, as well as advertisers and partners valuable for a variety of reasons.

The extended access lasted for weeks or months in many cases, Facebook said. It is not clear when all the deals had expired or how many companies had them. Facebook said only that the extensions expired by the end of 2015. The majority of developers were not aware of the availability of the preferred access or extensions for certain partners, according to people familiar with the situation.

The company claims the previously unreported extensions are consistent with statements made by CEO Mark Zuckerberg, including in testimony to Congress, about protecting its users’ personal information from third parties since 2015.

The company also says it is gradually ending the data-sharing deals made with device makers back to 2007. Both the deals with device makers and the software bug mishap are likely to be scrutinized by the Federal Trade Commission.


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