The issue here is not that a Facebook user can access data about friends and friends-of-friends-it's that they're giving a non-Facebook company's software access to that information.
Facebook late Sunday responded to a news report that said the social media giant struck agreements with at least 60 phone and device manufacturers and gave them extensive access to users' personal information.
The New York Times is out with a report alleging that Facebook improperly let other companies have access to users' personal information-and even their friends' information.
It's certainly connected. Cambridge Analytica was able to get its hands on the data of so many Facebook users-up to 87 million-because Facebook used to make it easy for third parties to get data on Facebook users and everyone with whom those users were connected.
However, Archibong stressed that Facebook's device API policy is very different from the public APIs used by developers like Kogan: "These third-party developers were not allowed to offer versions of Facebook to people and, instead, used the Facebook information people shared with them to build completely new experiences", he said.
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"I think there is a lack of transparency for users across many platforms" not just Facebook, the U.K.'s Information Commissioner, told the civil liberties committee of the European Union institution in Brussels on Monday evening. "As always we're working closely with our partners to provide alternative ways for people to still use Facebook", concluded Archibong. Some companies were even able to retrieve personal information from users' friends who believed they had barred any data sharing, the Times reported.
"What we have been trying to determine is whether Facebook has knowingly handed over user data elsewhere without explicit consent", Elisabeth Winkelmeier-Becker, one of the German lawmakers who questioned Facebook in April, told the paper. By repeatedly allowing a multitude of companies access to user data without knowing how it is being used, the company has proven time and time again it can not be trusted to take user privacy seriously. They report that some devices could get information such as religion, political preferences, or relationship status.
Senator John Thune, Republican of South Dakota, said in a statement that The Times's reporting "raises important questions about transparency and potential privacy risks for Facebook users".
Brace yourselves, Facebook users: another privacy scandal may be afoot.
Facebook said in April it would begin winding down access to its device-integrated APIs, but the New York Times says that many of those partnerships are still in effect. "It is shocking that this practice may still continue six years later, and it appears to contradict Facebook's testimony to Congress that all friend permissions were disabled". While that may not be a problem, they also provided private APIs which allowed OEMs to incorporate the site's functionality into the operating system itself.
Moreover, he added, "We are not aware of any abuse by these companies".