Zuck'd Again: Facebook Shared Sensitive User Info Via "Secretive" Data Deals

If you feel like there's been a new embarrassing revelation about Facebook's privacy practices every day this week, well, you're not entirely wrong. In the third bombshell report to drop since Moday, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that Facebook struck customized data-sharing deals with a select group of companies, granting several of them special access to user records well after the point in 2015 when Facebook said it had shifted its privacy policies in response to learning that a researcher had improperly taken Facebook user data and sold it to Cambridge Analytica. The unreported agreements were known internally as whitelists. They reportedly allowed certain companies to access sensitive information like phone numbers and a metric called "friend that measured the degree of closeness between users and others in their network," the people said.


The whitelist deals were struck with companies as diverse as Nissan and RBC Capital. The deals represented Facebook bending over backwards to allow special data access to a broader universe of companies, many of whom were valuable advertisers. Others needed the access to wind down unfinished projects after the new developer regulations. But some were granted the special access for "unspecified reasons" that WSJ apparently couldn't crack. WSJ also raises further questions about who had access to the data of billions of Facebook users and why they had access - and, what's more, why didn't Mark Zuckerberg mention any of this during the Congressional hearings?

Facebook said companies were granted this special access as something of a workaround after Facebook stopped granting unfettered access to developers in 2015. Many of the details published in the report appeared vague - for example, WSJ couldn't pin down how many Facebook clients had been granted this privilege. Perhaps that's why they published it after 4 pm Eastern on a June Friday.

Facebook officials said the company struck a small number of deals with developers largely to improve the user experience, test new features and allow certain partners to wind down previously existing data-sharing projects. The company 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 vast majority of developers who plugged into Facebook’s platform weren’t aware that the company offered this preferred access or extensions to certain partners, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Privacy experts interviewed by WSJ say it's unlikely users were aware that their data was being accessed in this way.

"I don’t think anyone would have a reasonable understanding of how widespread this was,"said David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Protection Bureau from 2009 until 2013 and now a professor at Georgetown Law.

However, the report raises questions about whether Facebook violated the terms of a settlement agreement it struck that year with the FTC. According to the agreement, Facebook is required to give its users "clear" and "prominent" notice before sharing their data.

It also raises questions about whether Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg lied to Congress during his April testimony when he said users have "complete control" over their data.

Yesterday, Recode reported that Facebook had unwittingly caused 14 million users' posts to be shared publicly, even though their privacy settings stipulated that they wanted those posts to only be available to friends and family. We also learned early this week that Facebook allowed device makers like Apple carte blanche to access user data. It's been more than two months since the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower forced data privacy among Silicon Valley tech giants into the spotlight. We wonder: now that consumers have an inkling about how their data is being treated, will these issues ever recede?


macholatte Stan522 Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:13 Permalink

According to the agreement, Facebook is required to give its users "clear" and "prominent" notice before sharing their data.

Clearly something has been misunderstood.  Facebook is in total complaince with both the letter and the spirit of the law. Everyone gets a copy of our user agreement and it claarly states in paragraph 136 (iii) section 27 (m) that users are given the required notice which is delivered several micro seconds prior to any data being shared.  In addition to that, everyone who logs on is given the notice immediately in big bold white print on an off white background which is displayed for several microseconds. Obviously, users who do not wish to have their data shared can fuck off.
- FB Legal Dept.





In reply to by Stan522

philipat 847328_3527 Fri, 06/08/2018 - 19:42 Permalink

I find it difficult to believe that anyone could still be shocked by any of this. It should be widely understood that Facefuck's business model is to sell your data to the highest bidder.....Then lie about it. As the saying goes, "If it's free, the "product" is YOU". And, in fairness, it isn't only Facefuck. And the anti-conservative direct bias and overt censorship of all these tech giants is additional cause for concern which this Adminstration should now do something about. Privacy could be "the way in"? 

In reply to by 847328_3527

nmewn philipat Fri, 06/08/2018 - 20:08 Permalink

It should have always been "opt-in" instead of corporate lawyers devising a "Terms Of Service" scheme that in essence says in a court of law...

"Hey! You clicked ACCEPT serf! Shut up!"

But you have to admit, the steady, methodical, dismantling of "empires" like, Zuckerbergs, Soros, Obamas, Hillarys, Musks, Weinsteins etal is a real thing of beauty to watch.

Siiigh ;-)


In reply to by philipat

ravolla nmewn Fri, 06/08/2018 - 20:11 Permalink

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In reply to by nmewn

Scipio Africanuz bamawatson Fri, 06/08/2018 - 19:23 Permalink

When you pursue power, at the expense of liberty, this is what happens. It's not just Facebook, Google, is equally guilty. They sold their souls, for shekels. If everyone that had the privilege of influence, did that, imagine where we'd be. The truly powerful, are constantly pleading for support, just to be able to continue providing beneficial information, and yet, these guys betray the cause of liberty, sold out their souls, and exposed those who trusted them, to calumny.

It was a betrayal too far! In more ruthless times, and climes, the cry would have gone forth "off with their heads!"

They sold out...

In reply to by bamawatson

Gaius Petronius Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:25 Permalink

I am ***SO*** glad I'm not on Facebook.  This just reinforces everything that I suspected about it.    Keep in mind how bad this stuff is going to get...Zuckerberg is censoring and limiting conservative views now.  It's going to get alot worse before it gets better.


Obamanism666 Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:25 Permalink

Only way to win is not to Play. Remember Facebook's problems started when a Liberal "Whistleblower" wanted to out Steve Bannon (Trump campaign) for using the same tactics Obama used in 2012. The rule of un-intended consquences

cougar_w Fri, 06/08/2018 - 18:33 Permalink

Nothing FB does is illegal. It's not immoral nor is it out outside of the service contract; read the ToS and tell me FB didn't warn everyone what FB was doing and were going to do. You explicitly grant them permission to collect and retain data, and share data with "select third-parties".

Don't use the service. Period. If you use the service get ready to be tooled according to contract.

cougar_w Ms No Fri, 06/08/2018 - 19:14 Permalink

Why does any corporation hide anything they do from public knowledge and eventual discussion? Because they fear the backlash from the bad publicity, is why.

People like the free service the way they like free heroin and for the same reason. But when a third-party do-gooder comes along and proves that the free heroin actually is not free, and that the cost is that it makes FB users look like morons and bad parents, then they feel like they have to "fight back" (ie, look and act less like a moron) and FB to their credit would rather that entire stupid profit-robbing process never get started. And yes it will maybe erect regulatory frameworks and controls that they will need to hire even more lawyers to get around and more costly bribes to pay out, god-dammit.

You can hardly blame them for sneaking around.

In reply to by Ms No

ChefHedge Fri, 06/08/2018 - 19:08 Permalink

Simple solution, take all wealth and assets, put toward paying down the debt and shut the fucking platform down for good. Oh, and through his ass in jail for about 25 years for lying.

cougar_w whatisthat Fri, 06/08/2018 - 19:21 Permalink

FB users are indeed morons because they give away for free the kind of information that hackers risk going to prison for stealing from other companies. And because the morons give it away for free -- and because FB can sell it all at unspeakable profits -- the Zuck will become a trillionaire rather than ever see the inside of a prison cell.

So I guess that means hackers are morons, too. I wish I'd thought of FB first, I'd pwn all you fuckers.

In reply to by whatisthat

PigMan Fri, 06/08/2018 - 19:29 Permalink

So a guy who steals the idea for the company, screws his partner out, and tells his friend we're dumb fucks for trusting him.......also Lies?...... Whaaaaaaat?