Internal Facebook documents, previously seized by Britain, confirm that the tech giant made a habit of sharing user data with other firms without user consent and tried to avoid bad publicity by obfuscating its data vacuuming.
The British Parliament on Wednesday released a trove of Facebook documents, which it took possession of amid a larger inquiry into Cambridge Analytica, a firm that used Facebook data to profile users for political purposes. MP Damian Collins, who chairs Parliament’s Digital, Culture Media and Sports Committee, said the probe established several key issues.
Facebook’s change of platform in 2014-2015 allowed it to enter into “whitelisting” agreements with app developers, giving them access to user data, in particularly how users are linked as friends within the platform. The documents didn’t reveal what policy Facebook used to decide which firms were worthy of the privilege and which were not.
The increased exposure of private data generated more revenue for app developers, and this outcome was the key driver behind the changes made by Facebook. The social network itself received data about how people were using third party apps in return.
The data-hungry mammoth wanted to know how people used their mobile phones, so it changed Facebook’s mobile app to enable it to harvest more information from devices it was installed on. It deliberately made it harder for users to be aware of this happening in order to avoid bad PR, the MP stressed.
Facebook also used its position as user data provider to affect the businesses of its competitors in social media, like Twitter, the report said.
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