Facebook Allowed Netflix and Spotify to Access Private Messages of Users

More than 150 companies, including technology firms such as Netflix and Spotify, vehicle assemblers, online retailers such as Amazon and media such as The Times, would have had special permissions granted by Facebook to access the personal data of hundreds. of millions of its users.

In particular, the investigation carried out by the American newspaper The New York Times (NYT) , ensured that Netflix and Spotify, entertainment technology platforms, would have had access to the private messages of Facebook users, while others were granted the permission to access data such as emails and contact lists present in the social network.

The information collected by this means of communication was obtained thanks to the analysis of hundreds of pages belonging to the internal files of the company and the testimonies of about 50 employees of Facebook and its corporate partners.

“For years, Facebook has given some companies more intrusive access to users’ personal data than it has revealed, exempting those business partners from the usual privacy rules,” NYT said. In simple words, it is as if the social network had delivered to these third parties keys that would allow them to access the files that contain information that would result from their interest provided by the users.

We must remember that last March, Facebook carried out a scandal in data privacy that even came to court. It was found that the Cambridge Analytica consultancy used the data of 87 million users of this social network to advise the presidential campaign of Donald Trump. As a result of this process, the technology company chaired by Mark Zuckerberg undertook to strengthen its actions to guarantee the safety of its users.

Hours after knowing the information, some involved platforms began to spread their statements about it. Example of the above is Netflix, who communicated: “over the years we have tried several ways to make Netflix more social.”

An example of this was a function that we launched in 2014 that allowed members to recommend series and movies to their Facebook friends through Messenger or Netflix, this tool was not popular, so we disabled it in 2015. At no time did we access the private messages of people on Facebook or request them to do so. ”

In turn, a statement shared by Facebook made clear its position that they have not violated the rights of their users nor have they violated the FTC agreement, which establishes protection of personal data.

“We want to be clear: none of these associations or functions granted third parties access to people’s information without their express consent, nor did they infringe our agreement with the 2012 FTC,” the company explained.

According to their own statements, what happened was the result of a program that Facebook has advanced in recent years with third parties, which it calls “integration partners”, to allow its users to access the platform through other devices. like cell phones and browsers. These allies include companies such as Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo.

On the other hand, the social network reported that another intention that sought with this program was to provide more experiences to its users such as being able to see the recommendations of their Facebook friends in other applications and popular sites such as Netflix, The New York Times, Pandora and Spotify.

This integration with these platforms would have been achieved through its APIs, that is, those digital communication channels that allow an application to share information with another, such as when an app allows a user to create an account on it. half of his profile on Facebook.

For the social network, any personal information that these applications could access was not obtained without the user’s consent, so this becomes an argument to say that they have not done anything wrong. As for the claims about access to personal messages by third parties, Facebook says yes, indeed, they had this income.

“Let’s take Spotify as an example. After you log in with your Facebook account in the desktop version of Spotify, you can send and receive messages without leaving the application. Our API gave our partners access to people’s messages to make this function possible, “says Facebook.

While this news is being communicated, the agency EFE confirmed a lawsuit against the social network advanced by the Attorney General of the District of Columbia for the case of Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

“The lawsuit filed by Washington’s attorney general, Karl Racine, is the first case in which a US authority takes legal action against Facebook in retaliation for this case, although the company was already fined 500,000 pounds in the United Kingdom. according to this medium, “the news agency reported.

NYT, referencing a report delivered by the Interactive Advertising Bureau, says that only in the United States companies have invested, so far in 2018, about US $ 20,000 million to get personal data they can use to benefit their organization.

“Facebook has never sold its user data, fearful of the user’s reaction and distrustful of giving potential competitors a way of doubling their most precious asset. Instead, as internal documents show, he did the following: grant other companies access to parts of the social network in a way that promoted their own interests, “the newspaper said.

Cybercrime is another industry that knows the economic potential of this market. What is known as the second largest data leak in history is proof of the above. At the end of last October, Marriott, the renowned hotel chain, reported that third parties managed to access the personal data of nearly 500 million of their guests, which included credit card numbers, email addresses, passports, names and postal addresses.

ESET’s computer security expert, Miguel González, assured that the attackers can use this data to sell them in illegal markets present in the Dark Web. Data such as credit card numbers with their respective expiration dates and passwords are part of the most demanded products, as well as the emails that are usually used to carry out phishing campaigns.

About the author

Angela Nagata

Angela Nagata is a reporter for De Lune. After graduating from NYU with a master degree in history,Angela got an internship at WABC-TV New York and worked on profiling local businesses across the city.

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