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The New Facebook Data Sharing Scandal Explained

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Facebook is in the news again over its data-sharing policies, following a report from New York Times, alleging that the social media giant allowed some third party technology companies to have access to user data.

The paper disclosed that the tech firms included Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, and Yandex. The report further revealed that these companies had access to user’s messages and data without their permission.

However, the alleged companies claim that they were not aware in the first place that they had such great access. In defence, Facebook says there’s no evidence to show that the data had been misused, and that neither did it grant access without a prior notice.  Meanwhile, this is in contrast to the social network’s claim that it had ended the privilege of having third parties access to users’ data after a fallout with the EU over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs said in a blog post, that “none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did it violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC.”

In contrast to what the paper reported, it alleges that Facebook granted Microsoft the access to see the names of Facebook’s users’ friends without permission. The social network also granted other tech firms like Netflix and Spotify to read and delete the private messages of users without their consent. Amazon had the access to users’ names and contact information through their friends. Blackberry and Huawei had the access to take down Facebook’s data to power their own apps. Apple devices could obtain the contact details of users even if they had disabled the feature of data sharing in their devices without notifying the users.

In a nutshell, the social media giant had agreed to special meetings with over 150 companies, including automobile manufacturers, media organisations, and online retailers to share users’ data.

This recent saga has questioned the integrity of the social network, and has led to calls for a new leader after a series of scandals, including the Cambridge Analytica data harvest and its role in spreading fake news to influence user behaviour after the US elections.

The year has been a rocky one for Facebook regarding its loopholes in user data management. On a bright side, the scandals serve as an eye opener to the general public that their shared data are not absolutely secured with the tech giants.

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