Bipartisan backlash against Facebook continued this week following a new report revealing that the tech giant had been sharing user data even more extensively than previously known.
The New York Times published an article detailing an agreement Facebook had with dozens of other companies dating back at least a decade.
Through these partnerships, manufacturers of phones and other devices were able to gain access to the data of consumers and their Facebook friends.
The company said these arrangements did not give partners the same level of access as app developers, adding that the shared data was needed to integrate the feature in early smart devices.
Critics, however, see the admission as evidence that CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony earlier this year was incomplete.
U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, a Rhode Island Democrat, linked to The Times article in a tweet on Sunday and called for further investigation of Facebook’s privacy practices.
Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have “complete control” over who sees our data on Facebook. This needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable. https://t.co/rshBsxy32G
— David Cicilline (@davidcicilline) June 4, 2018
“Sure looks like Zuckerberg lied to Congress about whether users have ‘complete control’ over who sees our data on Facebook,” he wrote.
Cicilline, who serves on the antitrust subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee, said the latest revelation “needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable.”
Other critics see the practice as completely contrary to Facebook’s public claims that users own their personal data while using its service.
Former Federal Trade Commission chief technologist Ashkan Soltani compared it to “having door locks installed, only to find out that the locksmith also gave keys to all of his friends so they can come in and rifle through your stuff without having to ask you for permission.”
While Facebook said it began to sever these arrangements in April, the same month as Zuckerberg’s testimony, some have suggested the policy itself could have been a violation of a 2011 FTC ruling that mandated the company would not override user data-privacy preferences without consent.
Facebook Vice President of Product Partnerships Ime Archibong issued a statement contesting the media portrayal of the company’s arrangements.
“Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends,” he said.
Archibong claimed Facebook’s “partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences.”
“We are not aware of any abuse by these companies,” he added.
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