Facebook Admits It Let Partner Companies Look At Your Private Messages

The Facebook app logo.
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The hits keep on coming for Facebook in its year of major scandals. Most recently, the social media network admitted on Wednesday that it allowed big companies to read users’ private messages.

On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Facebook gave access to users’ details to companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, and Spotify. Not only could these big brands read users’ private messages, but they could also write and delete them. Plus, it allowed Bing to access friend lists — all without any type of consent. Both Spotify and Netflix said that they were unaware of the broad range of power the social media platform had granted them.

In all, more than 150 companies benefited from the broad access, and Facebook failed to disclose the extent of personal details it had shared about its users. According to CNBC, Facebook responded to the scathing report with a blog post detailing what it has done. In the post titled, “Let’s Clear Up a Few Things About Facebook’s Partners” the company explained what had happened.

“To be clear: none of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission).”

The reason big brands had such access to the details is from “instant personalization,” which Facebook stopped in 2014. However, components of the software from that program remained in place, which technically allowed access to the wide variety of personal details.

In a stroke of good news for people who are active on the social media platform, it has “no evidence data was used or misused after the program was shut down.”

The Inquisitr reported recently that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg lost billions this year amidst all of the scandals that the company experienced. Mark Zuckerberg is expected to ring in 2019 with $15 billion less in his pocketbook than he had when he rang in 2018.

In addition to these privacy concerns, this year the company faced allegations of having given Russian advertisers a platform to potentially influence U.S. elections. The so-called Cambridge Analytica affair deepened client concerns regarding Facebook’s privacy standards. Plus, a massive data breach in September could end up costing Facebook $1 billion, per CNN. Stock prices for Facebook also fell sharply this year.

Facebook said that users use their accounts to sign in with their partners. “Our integration partners had to get authorization from people. You would have had to sign in with your Facebook account to use the integration offered by Apple, Amazon, or another integration partner.”

The company admitted that it shouldn’t have left the APIs in place after discontinuing its program.