According to CNN, Facebook gave an extension to the Russian company Mail.Ru Group, which allowed the company to collect users’ data. Facebook reported Tuesday that the company, which has links to the Russian government, developed countless apps for the social network. Mail.Ru and its apps are now being investigated in connection with other recent misuses of Facebook user data.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner told CNN, “In the last 6 months we’ve learned that Facebook had few controls in place to control the collection and use of user data by third parties. Now we learn that the largest technology company in Russia, whose executives boast close ties to Vladimir Putin, had potentially hundreds of apps integrated with Facebook, collecting user data. If this is accurate, we need to determine what user information was shared with mail.ru and what may have been done with the captured data.”
So far, Facebook refused to reveal how much user data was shared with Mail.Ru Group or if any of the data ended up in the hands of U.S. citizens. They also refused to share how they had come to learn that Mail.Ru Group had gained access to user data in the first place.
However, former Facebook employee Sandy Parakilas revealed, “Unfortunately there is no way for Facebook to know what happened to the data once it left its servers, so there’s no way for them to know if there was any misuse of not.”
The vice president of partnerships for Facebook, Ime Archibong, claimed Tuesday that there was no evidence indicating that the Russian technology company had “misused” Facebook user data, but added that the social network was “devoting significant resources” to the investigation.
Mail.Ru Group claims that Facebook never notified them about their investigation about Mail.Ru’s potential misuse of user data, although Facebook has stated otherwise.
The technology conglomerate is responsible for at least 20 different games available to play on Facebook, although the company claims Facebook users from the U.S. only make up 5 percent of their audience.
USM Holdings, the corporation that currently owns Mail.Ru Group, was founded by Alisher Usmanov, a Russian billionaire with connections to the Kremlin, and the company’s former chairman, Yuri Milner, “invested in Facebook and Twitter with hundreds of millions of dollars from Russian state institutions funneled through offshore shell companies funneled from.”
Mail.Ru Group, however, claims to have always obeyed Facebook’s terms and conditions and have never collected any data from American Facebook users.