Earlier this year, Facebook repeatedly came under fire after the Cambridge-Analytica data mining scandal led to the breach of at least 87 million user profiles. Mark Zuckerberg went on a few apology tours and testified in front of Congress, but there was little sympathy to be found for the social media network, and people deleted their profiles en masse. In July, Facebook stock took a massive dive, which cost Zuckerberg about $17 billion overnight, but the controversy later cooled as Facebook pledged to make security improvements. Well, the #DeleteFacebook movement has received a fresh jolt of inspiration with news of another alleged privacy breach. It’s a big one.
A New York Times investigative report reveals that Facebook granted access to data from its 2 billion users to fellow technology giants. Netflix and Spotify (as well as the Royal Bank of Canada) were allowed to read users’ private messages while Amazon was able to access user contact info via friends. Likewise, Microsoft could access users’ friends without permission to do so, and Yahoo was allowed to view friends’ posts in stream format. Some of these breaches allegedly occurred as recently as summer 2018. The NY Times based its findings on interviews with 60 people (including about 50 former Facebook employees) as well as documents and records, and the discoveries were grim:
In all, the deals described in the documents benefited more than 150 companies — most of them tech businesses, including online retailers and entertainment sites, but also automakers and media organizations. Their applications sought the data of hundreds of millions of people a month, the records show. The deals, the oldest of which date to 2010, were all active in 2017. Some were still in effect this year.
In a statement to Variety, Netflix claims that it never actually accessed private Facebook messages and soon shut down its Facebook integration because it held few benefits. Here’s Netflix’s full statement via a spokesperson:
“Over the years we have tried various ways to make Netflix more social. One example of this was a feature we launched in 2014 that enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix. It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015. At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so.“
Likewise, Spotify claims that it wasn’t aware that it could access user messages. Current Facebook executives who were quoted within the NY Times report claim that the other tech companies didn’t violate Facebook privacy policies, and they strenuously deny running afoul of the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines. Those questions will surely be hashed out in the months to come, but in the meantime, #DeleteFacebook is gaining newfound momentum.
There were also a few humorous tweets about Netflix and Spotify (see below), but the majority of vocal Facebook users who are tweeting about this are outraged. We have a guide on How To Delete Facebook from your life, if you are so inclined to do so. In the meantime, check yo’ private messages, folks.
(Via New York Times)