A New Data Crisis Hits Facebook (FB)

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A searing New York Times report published late Sunday, publicly accused Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) of reaching data-sharing deals over a period of several years with dozens of smartphone and device makers, allowing them to access vast amounts of its users’ personal information.

Headined “Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access to Data on Users and Friends,” the NYT article criticizes the embattled social media giant for granting deals to at least 60 companies including Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), BlackBerry (NYSE:BB), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Samsung to access without explicit consent extensive amounts of its users’ personal information. What’s more, the New York Times says that some of those partnerships are still in effect.

In a blog post, Facebook, currently being investigating by the FTC regarding its privacy practices in light of the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal, confirmed some parts of the Times’ report but disputed others.

The world’s number one social networking company said that apart from the fact that its partnerships were forged before the company made apps available on iOS and Android, the only software access given to device manufacturers was that of having them build versions of Facebook that worked on different phones or operating systems.

“These partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences,” Ime Archibong, FB’s VP of product partnerships said in the blog post.

“We are not aware of any abuse by these companies,” he added, noting that the Menlo Park, Calif.-based social giant has been “winding down access” to the software.

But the Times report claims that Facebook’s partners were able to retrieve without permission user data relationship status, political leaning, education history, religion and upcoming events.

“Tests by The Times showed that the partners requested and received data in the same way other third parties did,” it says. “Facebook’s view that the device makers are not outsiders lets the partners go even further, The Times found: They can obtain data about a user’s Facebook friends, even those who have denied Facebook permission to share information with any third parties.”

It remain to be seen if this latest report will prompt more calls for greater regulation of big social media companies.

At last check, Facebook stock was down $1.60, or 0.83%, to $191.34. The name currently prints a 52-wk return of about 28% compared with a 12.25% gain in the S&P 500.

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