Update: We have received an official statement from a Netflix spokesperson denying that the streaming service had access to people’s private messages on Facebook.
“Over the years we have tried various ways to make Netflix more social. One example of this was a feature we launched in 2014 that enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix. It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015. At no time did we access people’s private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so.”
Facebook gave unrestricted access to users’ personal data to more than 150 companies including big names like Microsoft, Netflix, Amazon, Spotify, and Yahoo, according to a New York Times report.
The publication obtained over 270 pages of Facebook’s internal documents from 2017. It revealed how the social media giant considered these companies business partners and exempted them from its privacy rules.
The Times interviewed over 60 people, including “former employees of Facebook and its partners, former government officials and privacy advocates” to gather the information.
The detailed report explains how Facebook gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read users’ private messages and let Amazon access usernames as well as contact information through friends.
In their defense, Netflix and Spotify have claimed that they were unaware of the special access.
On the other hand, Facebook allowed Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, to collect the names of “virtually all Facebook users’ friends” without their consent. It also allowed Yahoo to access “streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer.”
The investigation found that Facebook made deals with over 150 companies including online retailers, media organizations, automakers, and entertainment sites. While Facebook has denied sharing data anymore, NYT found that some of these deals were still active.
In a nutshell, Facebook gave a free pass to tech giants to dive in the massive data pool for profits. And this is just another episode of “Facebook and privacy scandals.” Even though Mark Zuckerberg promises that Facebook is trying to better safeguard users’ data and privacy, all those promises are proving to be empty gestures.