A New York Times publication accuses Facebook of sharing user data with manufacturers of various devices such as Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and BlackBerry.
10 years ago, Facebook started working with these companies to help them create social networking apps for their phones and tablets. The larger social network has helped builders integrate Facebook functionality into their operating systems. (For example, allowing users to share photos on the social network without directly visiting the Facebook app or website.)
In order for these embeddings to work, Facebook provided these companies with access to user data through so-called private APIs.
The Times reports that Facebook's level of access to companies raises concerns about Facebook's compliance with privacy laws. Facebook of course rejected the claim and stated that the agreements it made with the companies were "strictly" controlled.
With one connection, one application was able to grab data from almost 300.000 users!
The Times publication, however, includes an example of how these private APIs access data.
Using a BlackBerry 2013 smartphone, a journalist used his Facebook account to log into the BlackBerry Hub software, which displays social feeds with messages and emails.
After connecting, the BlackBerry software was able to not only retrieve data from the 556 friends of the journalist on Facebook, but also "recognized information" belonging to about 300.000 friends of the journalist's friends.
Facebook's main defense line is that before users can connect with device maker applications or services, they must (or not) agree to share their data. However, as the Times reports, there are similarities between these deals and the Cambridge Analytica scandal. The scandal revealed that third-party developers were leveraging Facebook's loose privacy policies to collect huge amounts of data from the company's platform.
Facebook, of course, says the two are "very different" and that sharing personal data with developers or marketing companies is not the same as sharing data with big tech companies. According to the largest social network, these companies have the resources to protect information, and can be held accountable if they misuse information for money.
However, what brought her scandal Cambridge Analytica it was how easy it was for tech companies to mislead the concept of user consent by making social media members agree to share their data without really understanding what they were agreeing with.
In the case of Facebook and the manufacturers, we might ask if users who logged into the BlackBerry Hub software knew how much data would be left from their devices, or how this information would be used.
When Faceboook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in Congress in March, he stressed that his company gives users full control of their data.
However, "complete control" does not necessarily mean full understanding.
Image and information from the verge