Facebook finds itself in another privacy scandal


Associated Press

NEW YORK

Facebook is at the center of another privacy furor, this one over its sharing of user data with device makers such as Apple, Amazon, Samsung and others over the past decade

The social network acknowledges the data sharing deals, which it says it – according to a New York Times report – has struck with at least 60 device makers since 2007. But it says there’s nothing scandalous about them.

The arrangements raise a number of questions, among them whether Facebook failed to get the explicit consent of users before sharing their data. If so, that could place it in violation of a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook denies it shared user data without consent.

These device-maker deals could raise concerns similar to those in Facebook’s recent Cambridge Analytica scandal. That’s where a Trump-connected political-consulting firm used data derived from as many as 87 million Facebook profiles in order to sway election results.

In this case, however, it’s not clear how the device makers could have abused Facebook even if they wanted to. So far, there’s no evidence that phone and tablet makers used Facebook data improperly, in sharp contrast to Cambridge Analytica consultants. Apple, for instance, said it has worked with Facebook for years to let its users share things on Facebook through iPhone and Mac apps.

But the report taps into continuing anxiety about the information users give up – and to whom – when they use Facebook. The Times report says device makers received users’ own information, such as email addresses, phone numbers and relationship statuses, as well as data from their friends, sometimes without their explicit consent.

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