Facebook Gave Some Companies Special Access to Users’ Data, Documents Show

Coverage Type: 

Emails and other internal Facebook documents released by a British parliamentary committee show how the social media giant gave favored companies like Airbnb, Lyft and Netflix special access to users’ data. The documents shine a light on Facebook’s internal workings from roughly 2012 to 2015, during a period of explosive growth as the company was navigating how to manage the mountains of data it was accumulating on users. The committee said the documents show Facebook entering into agreements with select companies to allow them access to data after the company made policy changes that restricted access for others. Other emails show the company debating whether to give app developers that spent money advertising with it more access to its data. In other instances, Facebook discussed shutting off access to companies it viewed as competitors.

A series of emails from Oct 2012 reveal Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s keen interest in figuring out how to extract revenue from Facebook’s trove of user data -- and the app developers that relied on it. “There’s a big question on where we get revenue from,” Zuckerberg wrote to one of his executives. “Without limiting distribution or access to friends who use this app, I don’t think we have any way to get developers to pay us at all besides offering payments and ad networks,” he continued. Zuckerberg’s private statements appear to contradict a stance he had long maintained publicly, that app developer’s access was open and free.

Facebook Gave Some Companies Special Access to Users’ Data, Documents Show Facebook allegedly offered advertisers special access to users' data and activities (Washington Post) U.K. Releases Internal Facebook Emails Deliberating Selling Data (Wall Street Journal) Facebook Struck Deals Over Data and Burnt Rivals, U.K. Lawmakers Say (Bloomberg)