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Secret Facebook deals gave some firms special user data access, says report

Some of the agreements, known internally as “whitelists,” allowed certain companies to access additional information about a user’s Facebook friends, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

tech Updated: Jun 09, 2018 09:07 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, Washington
Facebook,Facebook deals,User data
According to The Wall Street Journal, the whitelist deals were struck with companies including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor Co, who advertised on Facebook or were valuable for other reasons. (AP file photo)

Social media giant Facebook had customised data-sharing deal with certain companies giving them special access to user’s records, a media report said on Saturday.

Some of the agreements, known internally as “whitelists,” allowed certain companies to access additional information about a user’s Facebook friends, the people familiar with the matter said, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

“That included information like phone numbers and a metric called ‘friend link’ that measured the degree of closeness between users and others in their network, the people said,” the daily reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the whitelist deals were struck with companies including Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor Co, who advertised on Facebook or were valuable for other reasons. All the sources for the story were unnamed.

The report comes days after it was reported that Facebook had data-sharing partnership with at least 60 device makers.

Facebook said it allowed a “small number” of partners to access data about a user’s friends after the data was shut off to developers in 2015. Many of the extensions lasted weeks and months, Facebook said.

It “isn’t clear when all of the deals ultimately expired or how many companies got extensions,” the daily said.

Facebook maintained a “consistent and principled approach to how we work with developers over the course of the past 11 years,”Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships told The Wall Street Journal.

He acknowledged that a subset of companies were given extensions beyond May 2015.

“As we were winding down over the year, there was a small number of companies that asked for short-term extensions, and that, we worked through with them. But other than that, things were shut down,” Archibong said.

Facebook is already facing severe backlash globally for improperly sharing personal data of up to 87 million people with UK-based Cambridge Analytica.

Cambridge Analytica, a data-mining firm, is embroiled in a scandal purportedly over its work for US President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign and is alleged to have improperly obtained information from tens of millions of Facebook users to develop political ads.

First Published: Jun 09, 2018 09:07 IST