Netflix says it didn’t get access to direct messages of millions of users on Facebook, but a New York Times investigation has uncovered documents that clearly state otherwise. On Tuesday, the Times reported that Facebook gave many companies access to far more of its users personal information than it disclosed, including access to private messages and more.
Included in a lengthy list of companies Facebook let snoop was Netflix, the streaming giant that uses data of what users are watching and talking about to help recommend shows and movies users would like. But Netflix didn’t appreciate being included in the report and actually fired back on Tuesday, denying the contents of the lengthy Times investigation into Facebook security.
Netflix tweeted directly at the Times denying that it snooped on streaming customers who also had a Facebook account, saying it didn’t slide into its customers DMs.
There was just one problem: the Times says they most certainly did, and was privy to documents that proved they were, indeed, part of a group of companies who were given access to that information. (NOTE: Please see our update at the bottom of this post.) And much more. Which is why the Times captured an image of that tweet and used it to promote its story on Wednesday, reporting that Netflix had admitted it used information to recommend things on the streaming service.
In a separate story that went into further detail about just what companies could do with user data on Facebook, the Times reported that Netflix was given access to user data so they could share and recommend a show on the social platform after they had finished watching it. But also included in that access was plenty of other functions..
To accomplish such sharing, the Netflix application had to be able to send Facebook messages. But Netflix was given the ability not only to send private messages but also to read, write and delete them, and to see all participants on a thread. A Netflix spokesman said the company was not aware it had been granted such broad powers and had used the access only for messages sent by the recommendation feature.
Netflix deactivated the feature about a year after it was introduced, but documents show that the company still had access to users’ messages in 2017.