NY Times accuses Facebook: private messages given to companies

An investigation by the New York newspaper would show that Facebook would allow its partners to read our conversations. Here's what we know

New and heavy accusations to Facebook for the management of the privacy of its users. According to an investigation by the New York Times, for several years the Social Blue would have sold data and personal information of members to dozens and dozens of external companies. Among these companies, even some Tech giants such as Amazon, Microsoft, Sony, Spotify, Netflix, Yahoo and others.

The New York newspaper has managed to obtain documents showing negotiations and agreements with these companies for the transfer of data and to interview about fifty former employees who basically confirm the allegations. In short, from Cambridge Analytica onwards, the giant of social networks is experiencing a real crisis on the front of the defense of privacy. News of flaws and vulnerabilities that could have led to data theft are the order of the day (the last one, regarding the photo API, was just a few days ago) and, as they say, there is no end to the worst.

New privacy scandal for Facebook: what happened

For example, Facebook has allowed Bing, Microsoft's search engine, to access the friends list of many users, while Netflix and Spotify has even allowed to read the private messages of users sent via Messenger. To Amazon, on the other hand, it gave up names and email contacts of friends and to Yahoo it allowed to read the message boards of friends of members until this summer. To Apple, on the other hand, Facebook allowed access to members' event calendars.

In total, there are about 150 companies involved. In addition to technology companies, there are also car manufacturers and online newspaper publishers. Their apps were probing the data of hundreds of millions of people a month, and the contracts, some dating back to 2010, were all still active in 2017. Some were still in effect this year.

Bilateral agreements

But the deals, according to the NYT, were bilateral in some cases: Facebook also had access to information collected by the other companies and used it to further expand its audience through its "People You Might Know" feature. Facebook would basically use the contact lists of partners, including Amazon, Yahoo and China's Huawei to deepen the Social Graph andĀ better understand the relationships between people.

Steve Satterfield, Facebook's director of privacy, told the NYT that none of these contracts with third-party companies are in violation of Facebook's agreement with the Federal Trade Commission in 2011 because each contract requires the third-party company to comply with Facebook's privacy policy. However, the New York Times investigation highlights Facebook's behaviors that are perhaps even more serious than those that emerged in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.