Facebook let Netflix, Spotify read your private messages

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But a New York Times investigation this week has revealed that it's also because Facebook partnered with more than 150 companies between 2010 and 2017 to offer them access to its data without first informing users.

Examples given include Bing, which could see the names of "virtually all" Facebook users' friends; Netflix and Spotify, which the paper claimed could "read" users' private messages; and Amazon, which gained users' names and contact details through their friends.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users' names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends' posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier. For one, these deals certainly sound like they should be illegal, given Facebook never asked for specific user consent to send over their personal data to these other companies.

It claims that some businesses, including giants like Amazon and Netflix, were given preferential - and what the paper describes as "intrusive" - access to user data, and allowed to circumvent usual privacy rules.

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Although many companies are listed in the piece, it's Netflix and Spotify that have been highlighted as being able to access, and even delete, private messages.

"To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people's permission", the social media company said.

The reporting confirms other things you may have heard before, like how Facebook pulls together information from outside sources to fill out its "People you may know" feature using so-called "shadow profiles" for people who don't have accounts. The FTC this spring opened a new inquiry into Facebook's compliance with the consent order, while the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are also investigating the company. These companies reportedly had access to data even years after it was meant to be cut off. "However, we shouldn't have left the APIs in place after we shut down instant personalization". Some of these companies include Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and two popular movie and music streaming services.

"Still, we recognise that we've needed tighter management over how partners and developers can access information", he added.

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"Throughout our engagement with Facebook, we respected all user preferences", Microsoft said in a statement.

"Any shared data would remain on the devices and be available to anyone other than the users", the statement read.

Senator Brian Schatz said the latest revelations highlight a need for tougher controls on how tech companies handle user data.

While Facebook has time and again said that most of these partnerships ended years ago after the release of iOS and Android when it didn't need to offer these "integrations" to different companies to tie in different features, internal documents suggest that several companies have continued to have this access.

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