NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Facebook is facing new allegations it violated users’ privacy on a much larger scale than previously disclosed.
A New York Times report details how Facebook allegedly gave some of its partners a wide range of access to data from its 2.5 billion users for years and never told anyone.
The report says Facebook allowed Microsoft to “see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.”
The report says Facebook’s partners were able to seek the data of hundreds of millions of people a month, and the deals were all active in 2017 and some were still in effect this year.
The report also found that Facebook allowed Amazon and Yahoo access to users’ friends, as well, despite claims these practices had stopped,
In exchange, Facebook attracted more users, which meant more ad revenue, while the other companies got access and better placement on the site.
Earlier this year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized to lawmakers on Capitol Hill as he testified about the personal information of millions of users getting into the hands of British consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
“It was my mistake, and I’m sorry,” he said.
At the hearing, Zuckerberg insisted the data of Facebook’s users is safe.
“Yes or no: Is Facebook limiting the amount or type of data Facebook itself collects or uses?” Rep. Frank Pallone asked.
“Congressman, yes. We limit a lot of the data we collect and use,” Zuckerberg replied.
Zuckerberg previously said “we have a basic responsibility to protect people’s data, and if we can’t do that, then we don’t deserve to have the opportunity to serve people.”
In response to the Times article, Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy released a statement, which read in part, “Facebook’s partners don’t get to ignore people’s privacy settings, and it’s wrong to suggest that they do… these partners can only offer specific Facebook features and are unable to use information for independent purposes.
“We know we’ve got work to do to regain people’s trust,” he said, adding “that’s where we’ve been focused for most of 2018.”
Netflix officials said they never accessed Facebook users’ private messages, and Microsoft officials said they respected all user preferences.
The New York Times based its report on interviews with more than 60 people, including former Facebook employees and its partners. It also reviewed more than 270 pages of Facebook’s internal documents.
Because of a 2011 settlement, Facebook is required to obtain consumer consent before sharing information.
A Facebook spokesperson most of its partnerships did not require this because it “considered most partners extensions of itself.”