Apple, Samsung, Microsoft and others given ‘deep access’ to Facebook user data

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before Congress in early April.                  Xinhua News Agency  Getty

Though the company claimed that the company's device partners can use the data to only provide "the Facebook experience", these companies can access data about a user's Facebook friends, even those who have denied the social media company permission to share information with third parties. Facebook's rebuttal begins by saying it has mostly agreed with prior concerns the Times has raised "about the controls over Facebook information shared with" outside companies such as Cambridge Analytica. This means that the software of companies including Apple, Amazon, Samsung, Microsoft and BlackBerry gets to plug into Facebook's systems and access data that does not belong to the specific person who's using that software.

BlackBerry said its private API let Facebook users access their own friend networks and messages.

The opprobrium over Facebook's data privacy practices continues. During that testimony, Zuckerberg said that Facebook users could completely control their own data.

Back in 2011, Facebook signed a consent decree with the FTC that prevented the company from sharing members' personal data without their consent. Archibong also pointed out Facebook's agreements with the companies were created to prevent misuse, and the company knew of none. Samsung declined to comment.

'To bridge this gap, we built a set of device-integrated APIs that allowed companies to recreate Facebook-like experiences for their individual devices or operating systems'.

Friends of friends: On the above point, the story says that one reporter discovered that the BlackBerry Hub gleaned private data, including political leanings and events they planned to attend, from 556 of his friends. "We are not aware of any abuse by these companies".

The company says that with iOS and Android now so dominant, it has now ended access by 22 device makers, and started limiting the power of them in April.

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Late last month, he testified before European Union lawmakers and apologized for the way Facebook has been used to produce fake news, interfere in elections and gather people's personal information. Now, with nearly all smartphone users having access to a fully-featured Facebook app, the partnerships' reason for existing is moot. Facebook's explanation that it had to work closely with device makers when feature phones were the norm makes sense, and the Times story doesn't do anything to counter it.

Facebook's already spotty data sharing policy is apparently more problematic than observers had believed.

US Congressman David Cicilline, who has introduced a bill meant to curb Facebook and Google's influence in the news industry, said the Times report raises questions about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg's testimony before Congress earlier this year. In April, multiple committees on Capitol Hill had peppered him with questions about Facebook's dealings with Cambridge Analytica.

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

But Archibong highlighted that these partnerships and APIs were tightly controlled at the time.

The company recently said it will end these data-sharing agreements as part of a broader review of its privacy practices sparked by the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

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