Facebook scandal: customer data apparently also passed on to Apple, Microsoft & Co.


There are again allegations against Facebook, which could set the debate on data security on fire again: Many other technology companies should have access to user data.

Facebook , on its way to becoming the dominant social network – even before Facebook apps were available – apparently concluded special agreements with up to 60 device manufacturers, a report by the New York Times revealed. The partnerships now raise concerns about the security of customer data.

Cooperation in order to increase reach?

Since 2007, the re-exposed social network is said to have allowed access to Facebook data by handset manufacturers. The agreements with technology companies such as Samsung , Apple , BlackBerry , Microsoftand Co. should – according to the “New York Times” – Facebook users have made it possible to use popular features such as news and the “Like” button on their devices, even before an app for the social network could be installed.

The device manufacturers should have had access to the user data for this possibility – including not only from the device owners themselves, but also from their Facebook friends and their friends. Despite the settings in the user profile, which forbids the disclosure of personal information to third parties.

Confusing security status of the data

Only at a congress in March assured Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg: “Any content you share on Facebook is yours, and you have complete control over who sees it and how you share it.” According to own data Facebook give only data to third, if the users have explicitly agreed, so “heise”.

In an interview with the NYT, Facebook has apologized for passing on to endpoint manufacturers by saying that they are not classified as third parties by the group, but rather as participants in the “Facebook experience”, which provides content to device users. In addition, the tech companies are contracted, so the use of the data would be very limited. But even six years ago, there were even internal doubts about the partnerships with the device manufacturers:

This type of cooperation was already identified in 2012 as a “data protection problem” within the company, which is why it is “shocking” that the conditions seem unchanged, the NYT quotes a former Facebook employee for advertising and data protection. At this time, Facebook undertook to comply with the US trade regulatory FTC, the user’s settings regarding data transfer to third parties.

A BlackBerry captures up to 50 data categories

To further understand what data was involved, a New York Times (NYT) reporter conducted a trial on a BlackBerry 2013 model. Using an app called “Hub” from BlackBerry, the data flow should be kept in mind. When connecting to its Facebook profile, the device pulled down information such as name, user ID, photos, location information, and reporter’s mobile phone number.

This was followed by information from the private messages, as well as extensive information about all 550 profiles friends with the NYT reporter and their friends. Apparently around 50 different types of data were downloaded via nearly 300,000 Facebook users, as the NYT report shows.

A group breaks the connection

The data disclosure revealed the social network also the German Bundestag, as the data scandal was investigated – but only BlackBerry was called, on the other partnerships was kept silent. Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the MPs who dealt with the data scandal, said in an interview with NYT that she sees users’ rights violated by the revealed partnerships.

Meanwhile, some companies said themselves: Microsoft and BlackBerry explained that although the devices download data, but this would not be stored on servers, but on the devices themselves, as the NYT reported. Apple claims that it has not been able to access this option for more than half a year.

The iPhone manufacturer is currently going one step further: owners of i-devices are probably from autumn when using Facebook on the Internet browser Safari warned against data sharing and may decide on the release itself – so far, this process apparently went unnoticed in the background

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