wnol.info June 23 2018

Facebook ‘not aware of any abuse’ of data by phone makers

June 23 2018, 04:29 | Alexander Lowe

Facebook Reported to Have Handed Users' Private Data Over to 60 Device Makers

Facebook gave user data to 60 companies including Apple, Amazon, and Samsung

The deals were struck around the same time the first iPhone was introduced, and when Facebook launched its first mobile website.

This is very different from the public APIs used by third-party developers, like Aleksandr Kogan.

A reporter for The New York Times found that once he'd connected his Facebook account to a BlackBerry phone, it requested his profile data including users ID, name and picture, retrieved his private messages and responses and the user ID of each person he was communicating with.

The Times report said that Facebook began closing out the partnerships in April, but questioned whether Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. "You're only bringing your own information and you're able to connect with friends who have also authorized that app directly".

The newspaper said the information collected by the software included the IDs, birthday dates, work details and educational histories of numerous journalists' friends, as well as identifying information about many more friends-of-friends.

Facing blowback from the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal in March, Facebook vowed that it had put an end to that kind of information sharing, but never revealed that device makers had a special exemption.

In a piece entitled "Why We Disagree with The New York Times", Facebook pushed back strongly against the claims.

The partnerships themselves are no big secret - Facebook has been cultivating them for years, and they're often announced publicly, as Facebook confirmed in a blog post.

There are legitimate and useful reasons for a smartphones and other internet-connected gadgets to strike agreements permitting them access to Facebook's user information. Partners could not integrate the user's Facebook features with their devices without the user's permission. And our partnership and engineering teams approved the Facebook experiences these companies built.

Amazon Alexa heard and sent private chat
Amazon said in a statement to The Post Thursday afternoon that the Echo woke up when it heard a word that sounded like "Alexa". The odd behaviour was the result of a misheard command for which Amazon adjusted Alexa to not laugh unsettlingly at random.

The social network added that it was not aware of there being any abuse of the shared data. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it seems that the social networking giant has been involved in several similar data sharing scandals.

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Samsung were among the companies Facebook reached agreements with, allowing the companies to access users' relationship status, religion, political views, and upcoming events they attend.

Microsoft said the data involved was held locally on users' phones.

Apple, on the other hand, said it stopped giving its iPhones that access since September 2017. It added that newer Blackberry-branded Android handsets do not use the APIs.

The FTC declined to comment.

8/ This wasn't a small misstatement - the crux of Facebook's argument was that they fixed the friend permission problem in 2014.

Facebook's already spotty data sharing policy is apparently more problematic than observers had believed. A BlackBerry (bb) spokesperson told the paper that the Canadian firm "did not collect or mine the Facebook data of [its] customers".

The data sharing was reportedly an issue as early as 2012.

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