Facebook Shared Private DMs With Netflix 'For Nearly A Decade' According To Lawsuit

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Apr 02, 2024 - 05:00 PM

Facebook parent Meta is alleged to have allowed Netflix to see private user DMs "for nearly a decade" in order to help the streaming giant tailor content to users, according to claims made in an explosive new lawsuit.

According to court documents originally filed last April and finally unsealed on March 23, Netflix and Facebook "enjoyed a special relationship" for "bespoke access" to user data, which Netflix paid over $100 million for.

According to the filing:

By 2013, Netflix had begun entering into a series of “Facebook Extended API” agreements, including a so-called ‘Inbox API’ agreement that allowed Netflix programmatic access to Facebook’s user’s private message inboxes, in exchange for which Netflix would “provide to FB a written report every two weeks that shows daily counts of recommendation sends and recipient clicks by interface, initiation surface, and/or implementation variant (e.g., Facebook vs. non-Facebook recommendation recipients).


In August 2013, Facebook provided Netflix with access to its so-called “Titan API,” a private API that allowed a whitelisted partner to access, among other things, Facebook user’s “messaging app and non-app friends.”

The anti-trust class-action lawsuit was filed by two UC citizens, Maximilian Klein and Sarah Grabert, who claim that the two Silicon Valley behemoths agreed to "custom partnerships and integrations that helped supercharge Facebook’s ad targeting and ranking models" from at least 2011 stemming from the personal relationship between Mark Zuckerberg and Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings.

"Within a month" of Hastings joining Facebook's board, the two companies signed an "Inbox API" (Application Programming Interface) which allowed Netflix "programmatic access to Facebook’s user’s private message inboxes," the Daily Mail reports.

In exchange for this data, Netflix would provide Facebook a report every fortnight which showed how users interact with the streaming media platform.

As the Mail notes, Meta and other Silicon Valley companies have been forced to pay millions of dollars in fines for its mishandling of private user information.

In 2022, Ireland fined Meta €265 million ($284 million) after data about more than half a billion users leaked online.

Full names, phone numbers, locations and birthdays of users who used the platform between 2018 and 2019 were leaked online by a 'bad actor' who Meta said exploited a security vulnerability.

That same year, Meta agreed to pay $725million to settle a security breach case related to Cambridge Analytica, the British social media engineering company that was brought into the limelight after its role in the Brexit vote and the 2016 presidential election was exposed. -Daily Mail

In 2018, Facebook's former chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer, said that as many as 87 million Facebook users had their information improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. Andrew Bosworth, his successor, said in a leaked email that the Cambridge Analytica scandal was a "non-event," claiming that the data mining company "were snake oil salespeople. The tools they used didn't work, and the scale they used them at wasn't meaningful."