Facebook gave user data to 60 companies including Apple, Amazon, and Samsung

Apple was among the companies that used device-integrated APIs to serve up a version of Facebook on its hardware but the deals are now under scrutiny

Facebook partnerships with certain device makers allowed them access to personal data without permission

Facebook says it made deals with around 60 companies, from Apple, Amazon and Blackberry to HTC, Microsoft and Samsung, to "recreate Facebook-like experiences" on their devices.

Numerous partnerships, with companies such as Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung, remain in effect even after Facebook began to quietly unwind them in April, according to a lengthy report in the New York Times. "We are not aware of any abuse by these companies", he writes. They report that some devices could get information such as religion, political preferences, or relationship status.

A top lawmaker in Congress is questioning whether Facebook allowed two Chinese telecommunications firms with alleged ties to their country's government to harness data about the social network's users, potentially subjecting their personal information to new privacy and security risks.

Apple has confirmed it is among those to have stopped using the APIs, and said that it had mainly employed them to let users post pictures and other information without first having to open the Facebook app.

According to Facebook officials, over the past decade - before Facebook apps were widely available on mobile phones - the social network developed data-sharing partnerships with "at least" 60 device makers, including the big ones: Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung. It also claims that the firms could access the data of users' friends.

Such integrations were perhaps necessary at a time when smartphones didn't have adequate specifications to run Facebook apps.

Facebook is on the defensive again over how it handles people's personal data.


Archibong claims that, contrary to the New York Times report, friends' info, like photos, couldn't be accessed on other people's devices unless those friends chose to share their info.

"Think of an API as a side door that allows you to retrieve data from a guarded room". According to the Times, however, an exemption was given to the device makers and they reportedly kept the access to the data. "And we approved the Facebook experiences they built", said Facebook's product partnerships chief, Ime Archibong, in a blog post.

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood said in a statement Monday that "the news that Facebook struck "data-sharing" partnerships with other corporations is yet another reminder of the many questions that remain unanswered". "This took a lot of time - and Facebook was not able to get to everyone". That kind of arrangement was necessary before phone operating systems relied on app stores, it added.

Archibong also said that these cases were "very different" from the use of data by third party developers in the Cambridge row. It monitored what data was transmitted when a reporter's Facebook account with 550 friends was connected to a BlackBerry.

Just when the world seemed to be forgetting Cambridge Analytica, Facebook might have another major privacy scandal on its hands.

Even before Cambridge Analytica, Facebook already came under fire for the way it shared information with third-parties, specifically your friends' information, without their knowledge, much less their consent. Blackberry said it did not "collect or mine" Facebook data itself. It said 22 of the partnerships had since ended.

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