What to make of the New York Times’ latest story about Facebook’s broad data-sharing agreements?
The story, which draws on internal documents describing the company’s partnerships, reports on previously undisclosed aspects of business partnerships with companies including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Spotify, and Netflix. In some cases, companies had access to data years after it was supposed to have been cut off.
The story, which builds on reporting earlier this year from both the Times and the Wall Street Journal, describes a variety of data-sharing partnerships, some of which users were likely unaware of. They include:
- Giving Apple access to users’ Facebook contacts and calendar entries, even if they had disabled data sharing, as part of a partnership that still exists. Apple told the Times it was unaware that it had special access, and of the data described would never leave the user’s device.
- Giving Amazon the names and contact information of users, in a partnership that is currently being wound down. Amazon wouldn’t discuss how it used the data other than to say it had used it “appropriately.” On Twitter, Gizmodo’s Kashmir Hill speculated that Amazon may have used the data to fight review fraud.
- Giving Bing, the Microsoft search engine, access to see names and other profile information of a user’s friends. Microsoft said it has since deleted the data. Facebook says that only user data set to “public” was accessible to Microsoft.
- Giving Spotify, Netflix, and the Royal Bank of Canada the ability to read users’ private Facebook messages.
Here’s how the story is framed by reporters Gabriel J.X. Dance, Michael LaForgia, and Nicholas Confessore.