VOTE: Do you trust Facebook with your personal information?

Facebook is under the microscope yet again, this time facing allegations of giving away private user information to giant tech companies. The claims were made in a Dec. 18 article by The New York Times, which includes allegations involving Royal Bank of Canada, Netflix, Spotify, Microsoft, Yahoo, and others.

With more than 2.2 billion users, this new report could potentially spell disaster for the social media company and its partners, as suggested by its tumbling stock price as of Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s what we know about the allegations in The New York Times piece, and how companies have publicly responded to the claims. The documents in question have not been provided to Yahoo News.

The facts:
  • The New York Times has claimed it has obtained more than 270 pages of internal Facebook documents generated in 2017 that suggest personal data is “the most prized commodity of the digital age” and deals helped more than 150 companies.
  • The exchange of personal data aimed to help Facebook by adding users and boosting revenue, while also helping partners by providing information that could shape their products and services, the newspaper suggested.
  • Records show Microsoft’s Bing was allowed to see the names of “virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent,” while Netflix and Spotify were given access to read Facebook users’ private messages, The New York Times reported. Netflix reached out to Yahoo News Canada on Dec. 21 and issued the following statement: “At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so.”
  • Amazon was allowed access to user names and contact information through friends, and Yahoo was granted permission to “view streams of friends’ posts,” according to The New York Times.
  • Facebook’s director of privacy and public policy, Steve Satterfield, reportedly told the newspaper the partnerships did not violate users’ privacy or the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) agreement regarding consent. 
  • Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo responded to claims by saying they had used the data appropriately, while Facebook admitted it had mismanaged some partnerships, The New York Times reported.
  • In March, Facebook was accused of allowing Cambridge Analytica to harvest the private information of millions of Facebook users without their consent.
  • In 2012, Facebook reached an agreement with the FTC after facing allegations of breaking the FTC Act with deceptive tactics involving personal user information.
Social media platform Facebook has been in the news relatively often in 2018. Now it is facing allegations of allowing more than 150 companies access to personal user data. Photo from Getty Images.