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Facebook Gave Device Makers Deep Access To Data on Users and Friends

Facebook allowed phone makers to access users' data: Report

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Facebook
Facebook unveils new VR headset 'Oculus Quest'. Pixabay

Raising fresh concerns about Facebook’s privacy protection policies, a New York Times report has exposed how the social network allowed about 60 device makers, including Apple and Samsung, to access personal information of users and their friends.

Even before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, Facebook had data-sharing partnerships with the device makers, the report said citing company officials, adding that most of the deals remain in effect.

While the device partnerships allowed Facebook to expand its reach, it let the phone makers offer customers popular features of the social network, such as messaging, “like” buttons and address books.

The deals raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), The Times said.

Facebook, which is already under scrutiny for misuse of millions of its users’ data after the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal became public, reportedly allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent.

Representational image.
Representational image. Pixabay

While Facebook’s leaders said that the kind of access exploited by the political consulting firm in 2014 was cut off by the next year as it prohibited developers from collecting information from users’ friends.

But the company officials did not disclose that such restrictions were not applicable to makers of cellphones, tablets and other hardware, the report said.

However, Facebook officials denied the device partnerships violated its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

Also Read: Hillary Clinton Wishes to Head the Facebook

They said its partnerships were governed by contracts that strictly limited use of the data, including any stored on partners’ servers, adding that they knew of no cases where the information had been misused.

“These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform,” Ime Archibong, a Facebook vice president was quoted as saying. (IANS)

Next Story

Facebook Adding New Privacy Control Feature on its Android App

The 'Location Services' setting for iOS also comes with three choices -- Never, While Using and Always -- for when an app could access the precise location of the users

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Facebook
Facebook App on a smartphone device. (VOA)

Facebook is adding a new privacy control feature to its Android app that will allow users to block the app from collecting and saving their background location information.

“We’re introducing a new background location control on Facebook for Android so people can choose if they want us to collect location information when they’re not using the app,” Paul McDonald, Engineering Director, Location Infrastructure, Facebook wrote in a blog-post on Wednesday.

Until now, users using features location like “Nearby Friends” or “Check-in” on Facebook were asked to enable their “Location History” setting.

Enabling the “Location Sharing” feature shared the user location even when the app was not being used, allowing Facebook to store that history.

“With this update, you’ll have a dedicated way to choose whether or not to share your location when you aren’t using the app,” McDonald said.

Facebook
Facebook, social media. Pixabay

Facebook is also updating the “Access Your Information” feature to include an estimate of users’ primary location at the city or postal code level.

“We’re not making any changes to the choices you’ve previously made nor are we collecting any new information as a result of this update,” McDonald added.

This update announcement came just days after Facebook’s security team had used location information to track missing interns and users deemed to be threats, The Verge reported.

Also Read- WHO Claims Measles Epidemic in Madagascar Takes Hundreds Of Lives

For iOS users though the location setting was not such big an issue as Facebook would send an alert to users who chose to turn on the “Location History” feature so that they could check to make sure their settings are right for them.

The ‘Location Services’ setting for iOS also comes with three choices — Never, While Using and Always — for when an app could access the precise location of the users. (IANS)