Facebook Accused Of Sharing Users' Private Messages With Tech Giants

December 19, 2018 - 8:12 am

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Your private messages and other data on Facebook have hardly been private.

The New York Times gained access to internal records that show Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read users messages.

The social media giant also let Microsoft and Amazon see the names of all Facebook users’ friends, and it let Yahoo view friends’ posts, according to the Times.

They were part of more than 150 companies who reportedly had access to users' sensitive data. 

In a statement, Facebook admits it shared the data, but it denies it did so without consent.

Threat intelligence expert Allan Liska explained why the companies might want the data.

“Presumably what they were doing was using that information to better market their services to mutual customers,” he said. “So Netflix could mine your data feed and say, ‘OK, this person likes these kind of movies, so we’re going to put these on the top of their recommended list.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told lawmakers in April that people “have complete control” over everything they share on Facebook, but the Times says the data sharing continued as recently as this past summer.

Some of the companies, including Apple, Microsoft and Netflix, responded that they were not aware of the data shared by Facebook. 

In a 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, Facebook agreed not to share users' data without their explicit permission. The company told the Times this data handover didn't violate that agreement because "Facebook considered the partners extensions of itself."