Today, the shares of Facebook dropped by 6 percent following the revelation of an investigation that the firm gave big tech companies far greater access to the personal data of its users than it had previously admitted.
According to reports, the social media giant allowed the Bing search engine of Microsoft sees the names of virtually all users’ friends even without their permission.
The New York Times reported that Facebook also gave Spotify an Netflix the ability to read the private messages of users, allowing Amazon to get hold of the names and contact details of users via their friends.
The probe cited internal records that describe data-sharing deals that benefit over 150 firms.
Facebook responded today by denying that it gave the companies access to the personal information of users without their permission.
The director of developer platforms and programs of Facebook, Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, stated: “None of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC.”
A Netflix spokesperson, meanwhile, stated: “At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook or ask for the ability to do so.”
However, Netflix did launch a feature in 2014 that enable its members to recommend movies and TV shows to their Facebook friends, integrating Netflix and the Messenger function of Facebook.
The firms that Facebook helped, called as “integration partners,” were supposedly just allowed access to help the users access their Facebook accounts on platforms that are built by other companies such as Amazon, Blackberry, and Apple.
A spokesperson for the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland, the lead European regulator of Facebook by virtue of the European business of Facebook being based in Dublin, stated: “We are aware of the media reports and we are currently assessing what next steps, if any, are required.”
Separately, associating to another scandal that is surrounding Facebook, that of Cambridge Analytica, the attorney general of Washington DC said today that the city had sued the firm over allegedly misleading its users regarding the protection of their personal information.
Earlier this year, Facebook came under fire after revealing that a third-party personality quiz game that is hosted on the social network gathered the date on 87 million users and sold it to Cambridge Analytica, a British political consultant.
Karl Racine, the Attorney general, said that the firm was aware of the incident for two years prior to revealing it and that it had misled the users.
Facebook stated: “We’re reviewing the complaint and look forward to continuing our discussions with attorneys general in DC and elsewhere.”