Facebook has confessed that they gave access to millions of users private messages, and other sensitive information to big companies like Microsoft, Spotify, and Netflix, but denies doing it without consent.
The company responded to an investigative report in New York Times that alleged Facebook of breaching the trust of users by sharing their messages and personal informations to other big companies.
The company wrote in a blog post: “Did partners get access to messages? Yes. But people had to explicitly sign in to Facebook first to use a partner’s messaging feature. Take Spotify for example. After signing in to your Facebook account in Spotify’s desktop app, you could then send and receive messages without ever leaving the app. Our API provided partners with access to the person’s messages in order to power this type of feature.”
According to the Times report, citing hundreds of Facebook internal documents and interviewing more than 50 former employees, the company allowed Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, while, Spotify could see the messages of more than 70 million Facebook users a month, and Yahoo was able to view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer.
However, Facebook has told The Times it found no evidence of abuse. The data-sharing agreement benefited more than 150 companies. The deals, in turn, helped Facebook bring in more users.
“To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission),” Facebook said in the blog post.
Meanwhile, Spotify and Netflix said that they were unaware they had this kind of broad access, and they didn’t access anyone’s messages.
“At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so,” the Netflix spokesperson said.
Spotify has denied the alleagtions that they could read users’ private Facebook inbox messages across its integrations.
“Previously, when users shared music from Spotify, they could add on text that was visible to Spotify. This has since been discontinued. We have no evidence that Spotify ever accessed users’ private Facebook messages,” a spokesperson for the company said.