More than 150 companies, including major tech organizations and online retailers, made arrangements with Facebook to have special access to users' personal data, even as the social media platform assured people that they had control over their own data, The New York Times reports.
The Times reviewed more than 270 pages of documents Facebook generated in 2017 to track the partnerships, and spoke with more than 50 former employees of the company and its corporate partners. Under the arrangement, partners were essentially exempt from the usual privacy rules, the Times reports. For example, Netflix and Spotify were granted permission to read users' private messages; Amazon was able to obtain the contact information of users through their friends; and Bing, the Microsoft search engine, was allowed to "see the names of virtually all Facebook users' friends without consent," the Times says.
The records show the that deals, all of them active in 2017, involved the data of hundreds of millions of users every month. The first deals were made in 2010. Steve Satterfield, Facebook's director of privacy and public policy, told the Times these partnerships did not violate the privacy of users or run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission's 2011 consent agreement that prohibited Facebook from sharing user data without permission. Read more about the arrangements — and why data privacy experts are skeptical of Facebook's claim that these partnerships were exempt from regulatory requirements — at The New York Times.
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