Facebook emails show how it sought to leverage user data

File photo

A U.K. Parliament committee accused Facebook on Wednesday of cutting special deals with some advertisers to give them more access to data as it released 250 pages worth of documents on the tech giant’s internal discussions about the value of users’ personal information.

Posted: Dec 5, 2018 1:59 PM

LONDON (AP) — A U.K. Parliament committee accused Facebook on Wednesday of cutting special deals with some advertisers to give them more access to data as it released 250 pages worth of documents on the tech giant’s internal discussions about the value of users’ personal information.

Parliament’s media committee seized confidential Facebook documents from the developer of a now-defunct bikini photo searching app as part of its investigation into fake news. In a summary of key issues pertaining to the documents, the committee says Facebook “whitelisted” or gave preferential access to certain companies, such as Airbnb and Netflix, even after the tech giant announced changes in 2015 to end access to a user’s “friends.”

“Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data,” the committee said in a statement preceding the emails. “It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not.”

The parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee received the documents from app developer Six4Three, which had acquired the files dating from 2013-2014, as part of a U.S. lawsuit against the social media giant. The app developer is suing Facebook over a change to the social network’s privacy policies in 2015 that led Six4Three to shut down its app, Pikinis, which let users find photos of their friends in bathing suits by searching their friends list.

The committee’s seizure of the documents, which were under seal by a court in the United States, came after the CEO of Six4Three, Theodore Kramer, was threatened with arrest while on a business trip to London if he didn’t hand over the material. The committee chair, Damian Collins, said the documents are relevant to his ongoing investigation into whether social media platforms were used to manipulate elections.

″(The documents) raise important questions about how Facebook treats users’ data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market,” he said. “We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents.”

The cache includes emails from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other key members of his staff. Collins said the emails raise important issues, particularly around the use of the data of Facebook users.

“The idea of linking access to friends’ data to the financial value of the developers’ relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents,” Collins said.

The summary said the documents also show Facebook knew that an update to its Android mobile app phone system — which enabled the Facebook app to collect user call logs — would be controversial.

“To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app,” the summary said.

Facebook responded quickly, saying the release was misleading without context and that the documents “are only part of the story.”

“We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers,” the company said in a statement. “Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.”

The documents suggest robust internal discussions about linking data to revenue.

“There’s a big question on where we get the revenue from,” Zuckerberg said in one email. “Do we make it easy for devs to use our payments/ad network but not require them? Do we require them? Do we just charge a rev share directly and let devs who use them get a credit against what they owe us? It’s not at all clear to me here that we have a model that will actually make us the revenue we want at scale.”

Terre Haute
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 65°
Robinson
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 63°
Indianapolis
Clear
62° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 62°
Rockville
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 63°
Casey
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 63°
Brazil
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 48°
Feels Like: 65°
Marshall
Clear
65° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 47°
Feels Like: 65°
Sunny and nice!
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Monday: Mostly sunny, nice! High: 77

Image

Courts upgraded at local club

Image

Urgent need for blood

Image

Girl Scouts fight food insecurity by working on new patch

Image

National Cleanup Day

Image

Terre Haute vigil for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Image

Protesters call for end of capital punishment

Image

Sunday Morning Forecast Update

Image

Paris Tigers Let Us Play Movement

Image

Girls Golf Sectionals

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Confirmed Cases: 276443

Reported Deaths: 8686
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Cook1390885162
DuPage16694550
Lake16299485
Will13416372
Kane12616325
St. Clair6278183
Madison5341130
Winnebago5274149
McHenry4406118
Champaign433020
Peoria320848
McLean314719
Rock Island278971
Kankakee264276
Unassigned2238236
Sangamon223244
Kendall190325
LaSalle160855
Tazewell155618
DeKalb144038
Macon137439
Coles134928
Williamson131534
Jackson123624
Clinton106420
Boone102623
Adams98110
Randolph91511
Effingham8201
Whiteside67820
Grundy6275
Monroe62715
Ogle6226
Henry6165
Morgan61521
Knox5983
Vermilion5884
Bureau57311
Jefferson55737
Union49624
Macoupin4957
Marion4950
Franklin4892
Stephenson4636
McDonough44515
Logan4301
Christian42710
Woodford3896
Cass38411
Jersey38013
Crawford3521
Iroquois35219
Shelby3464
Fayette3393
Perry33715
Lee3261
Montgomery32213
Livingston3135
Warren3042
Bond2884
Douglas2756
Saline2563
Lawrence2452
Wayne2405
Jo Daviess2362
Greene2086
Moultrie2073
Carroll2044
Cumberland1964
Jasper1969
Washington1931
Hancock1923
Pulaski1561
White1560
Clark1472
Fulton1440
Johnson1440
Richland1444
Wabash1391
Clay1380
Piatt1290
Mason1271
Mercer1265
Menard1150
Edgar1097
Pike1081
De Witt1001
Ford984
Marshall940
Massac942
Alexander711
Scott690
Gallatin672
Hamilton670
Henderson620
Edwards600
Stark502
Schuyler440
Putnam430
Brown370
Calhoun370
Hardin340
Pope261
Out of IL20

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Confirmed Cases: 111505

Reported Deaths: 3506
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion20699758
Lake10217318
Elkhart6368109
St. Joseph604597
Allen5965200
Hamilton4676109
Vanderburgh334129
Hendricks2650122
Monroe240836
Johnson2257122
Tippecanoe221013
Clark211756
Porter205244
Cass19319
Delaware187061
Vigo176622
Madison157775
LaPorte136737
Floyd130361
Howard127563
Kosciusko119017
Bartholomew114957
Warrick114135
Marshall98524
Dubois94918
Boone94446
Hancock90542
Grant88233
Noble88132
Henry76324
Wayne73914
Jackson7349
Morgan69638
Shelby66529
Daviess64127
LaGrange63011
Dearborn62628
Clinton59112
Harrison56024
Putnam5329
Montgomery50521
Lawrence50328
Knox4869
White47914
Gibson4744
Decatur45339
DeKalb45011
Miami4243
Fayette41813
Greene41835
Jasper3822
Steuben3677
Scott35310
Sullivan32912
Jennings30912
Posey3020
Franklin29725
Clay2925
Orange28224
Ripley2788
Carroll27013
Wabash2638
Washington2581
Whitley2526
Starke2517
Wells2472
Adams2443
Jefferson2433
Fulton2352
Huntington2213
Spencer2194
Tipton21722
Perry20913
Randolph2067
Jay1700
Newton17011
Owen1641
Martin1620
Rush1514
Pike1411
Vermillion1260
Fountain1152
Pulaski1141
Blackford1132
Crawford1030
Brown1013
Parke932
Benton880
Union770
Ohio767
Switzerland680
Warren401
Unassigned0225