After the Cambridge Analytica data privacy put Facebook in hot water for ‘selling’ the personal data of over 85 million Facebook users, the company is embroiled in another data privacy breach. In 2015, Facebook stated that it restricted access to user data for third-party technology and app development companies. It was revealed, in a document presented to the United States Congress in July that this was not the case.

Data Sharing by Facebook – Software & App Developers

The documents delivered to the government investigation committee revealed that despite stating they had cut off access to user data by outside companies, it continued to share data that included user’s personal data with hardware, software and app developers after 2015. The report was made available just hours before the deadline for the request for information which came after CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress in April 2018.

Who Had Access to Facebook Data?

The report revealed that companies 61 companies including Nike, Hinge, United Parcel Service and AOL were given a six-month access extension on Facebook’s new privacy policy regulations. The report also notes that Facebook was in partnership with 52 companies both in the United States and internationally including Samsung, Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Acer, Spotify, Huawei and Chinese shopping network Alibaba. Investigators have specifically targeted Facebook’s relationship with Chinese mobile device manufacturers like Huawei who may pose a national security risk.
Part of the document received by Congress reads, “We engaged companies to build integrations for a variety of devices, operating systems and other products where we and our partners wanted to offer people a way to receive Facebook or Facebook experiences”.

The companies had access to Facebook user data to enable them to better create Facebook integrations for mobile devices and other websites. Seemingly innocuous and all in the quest for a better user experience, but at what cost to the loss of individual privacy and who really knows what happens to your personal data or how it is used once it leaves Facebook? Facebook has reported that it has already ended up to 38 of these joint partnerships and plans to discontinue the rest by the end of October 2018. However, it was also revealed that Facebook would continue to work with Apple, Amazon and Tobii past the October 1028 deadline.

Facebook has come under much criticism following the scandal around Cambridge Analytica and their misuse of user data to manipulate the 2016 U.S. elections. It has also raised a lot of questions about how robust the company’s data management process really is. Not only are questions being asked about the sale of personal data to third-party companies, but the overall data protection and cyber security policies in place to protect its 2 billion users against cyber-attacks and hackers. After the Cambridge Analytica reveal in March, the company lost around $60 billion in market value in just two days.