Facebook Allows Manufacturers Like Samsung, BlackBerry, And Apple Access To User Data

Christoph Dernbach  DPA via ZUMA

Christoph Dernbach DPA via ZUMA

Some device makers, according to the Times, could get personal information from those friends even though they were under the impression that they had barred any sharing if their data.

BlackBerry has always been in the business of protecting, not monetizing, customer data.

It also claims that the firms could access the data of users' friends. The partnerships give some device makers access to Facebook users' education history, relationship status, work, religion, political leaning and upcoming events, the Times reported. They continued to share data with device OEMs even when third-party data sharing was disabled, though still has noted that users could consent (or not) to share their data. Furthermore, the app was able to uniquely identify another 294,258 people.

The newspaper said the information collected by the software included the IDs, birthday dates, work details and educational histories of numerous journalists' friends, as well as identifying information about many more friends-of-friends.

In interviews to The New York Times, Facebook however defended its data sharing agreement and asserted that these are consistent with its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

The Times said the Facebook messages and data were routed to a BlackBerry app called the Hub, which was created to aggregate and centralize instant messages, emails, text messages and notifications from many sources, including social-networking services.

"This is very different from the public APIs used by third-party developers, like Aleksandr Kogan", Archibong said on Monday, referring to the Cambridge University-affiliated researcher who is a key player in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. As such, it offered APIs to allow device-makers to "recreate Facebook-like experiences of their individual devices or operating systems".

Adding to Facebook's defense, Archibong said that device-integrated APIs could not integrate users' Facebook features with their devices without their permission. And our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built. And Facebook stressed in a blog post it is "not aware of any abuse by these companies". Cambridge Analytica has since been dissolved. Microsoft said that its partnership let users "add contacts and friends and receive notifications".

Apple said it has stopped using the APIs and that it used them to allow users to post pictures and other information without having to open the Facebook app.

Although Facebook reportedly began to end these partnerships this past April, majority are still alive to this very day.

Facebook admitted that some of these "service provider" partners did store the data of users and their friends on their own servers. Samsung and Amazon did not respond to the Times' questions.

Despite Facebook's defence of its behaviour, one British digital rights campaign group has expressed concern.

Zuckerberg was adamant before Congress that Facebook is seriously committed to users' privacy.

Apple announced at today's WWDC it was rolling out stronger security and privacy features which help keep user data from being exploited.

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