Facebook accused of sharing data with Apple, Samsung, and Amazon

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

"Would you like to revisit your previous statements to Congress about sharing users' data with third-parties without their consent?" A prominent American daily says the company has given phone makers vast access to personal information of its subscribers. Some device makers could retrieve personal information even from users' friends who believed they had barred any sharing.

Facebook Inc.'s privacy missteps could be mirrored across other online platforms, according to a warning to European Union lawmakers from the head of the British data-protection watchdog leading a probe into the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

But privacy advocates have fretted that users may not have been aware of the extent that data about them, or their friends, had been transferred in the process.

"New revelations that Facebook provided access to users' personal information, including religion, political preferences, and relationship status, to dozens of mobile device manufacturers without users' explicit consent are deeply concerning", they said in a letter.

Microsoft said its API access ended in 2008, adding that the bridge was used to do things like add contacts and receive notifications, and that all data was stored locally on the user's device. And it could spark additional scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission, which is already investigating Facebook for a series of other recent, privacy mishaps.

It seems that even after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has not yet covered all its legal bases or sorted out any loose ends.

In Thune and Nelson's first question for Zuckerberg, the lawmakers asked if the data partnerships mean the CEO was misleading in his remarks.

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The 2011 decree prohibits the company from giving third party companies access to user data without their explicit permission.

The problem in this case is that Facebook has exempted these manufacturers from its new policy of preventing third party access to user data. "This company from what I've seen has disregarded a consent decree and behaved in a way that is inimical to consumers' interest..."

"Over and over Facebook has proven itself unworthy of user's trust".

"Given that these APIs enabled other companies to recreate the Facebook experience, we controlled them tightly from the get-go", it states.

The agreements required the third-party companies to use the information only for the intended goal of integrating features into users' devices, Facebook says.

The Times said the Facebook messages and data were routed to a BlackBerry app called the Hub, which was created to aggregate and centralize instant messages, emails, text messages and notifications from many sources, including social-networking services.

Facebook, which was founded in 2004, has reached data-sharing partnerships with at least 60 device makers - including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung - over the last decade, starting before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, company officials were quoted as saying by the report. "This was flagged internally as a privacy issue", Parakilas said, "It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook's testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled".

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