Facebook gave RBC, other companies preferential access to users' data, documents show

06 December, 2018, 09:51 | Author: Carlos George
  • There's trouble for Facebook across the pond

Dating app Badoo and ride-hailing app Lyft were among other companies "whitelisted" for access to data about users' friends, the documents showed. "We've never sold people's data". The documents didn't reveal what policy Facebook used to decide which firms were worthy of the privilege and which were not.

"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents", Collins said on Twitter. Kramer is suing Facebook because of a decision it made in 2014 to prevent developers from peeping into friends' data.

The developer, Six4Three, co-founded by Ted Kramer, built an app called Pikinis that could find pictures of friends wearing bikinis in their Facebook photos.

But by selectively "whitelisting" certain companies and apps in this policy change, the company was able to protect those apps that brought something to the Facebook platform - such as Airbnb and Netflix - while, it's argued, simultaneously blocking out any potential threats, such as the aforementioned Vine.

In terms of suffocating rivals, Mr Collins wrote: "The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps, with the effect that denying them access to data led to the failure of that business". The defunct app developer obtained them as part of its ongoing lawsuit in California state court alleging that Facebook violated promises to developers. The company denies that claim, arguing instead that, while it could have required developers to buy advertising, "we ultimately settled on a model where developers did not need to purchase advertising to access APIs and we continued to provide the developer platform for free". "We blocked a lot of sketchy apps".

That approach allegedly included using Onavo, an Israeli analytics company Facebook bought in 2013, to conduct global surveys of mobile app usage to determine whether or not Facebook should be threatened by rivals or consider acquiring them - as it did in the case of Instagram and WhatsApp.

Facebook's statement goes into specifics, detailing each of the concerns raised thus far by the exposed communications, although arguably, numerous provided answers do not completely address the issues raised - in some cases going off on tangents and pointing towards other mechanisms involved.

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You can check out the full 250-page document dump including the DCMS's summary at the United Kingdom parliament's website.

Zuckerberg's response, according to the email, was to "go for it".

"This is a pretty high risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it", Mr Michael LeBeau, an employee, said in a 2015 e-mail.

At the time, Facebook was also transitioning to what it called Platform 3.0, which would give it more control over the data of its users.

They were reportedly taken using an obscure legal power when the boss of U.S. software company Six4Three - which is involved in court action against Facebook in the USA - came to the United Kingdom on a business trip. Mr Mike Vernal, a former Facebook executive, said during one exchange.

For instance, in 2013, the Royal Bank of Canada wanted to launch a new payments app, which would get more people signed up if the bank could tap into friends' lists on Facebook.

"However, that may be good for the world", Zuckerberg added", but it's not good for us unless people also share back to Facebook and that content increases the value of our social network".

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