Documents Show Facebook Using User Data as Leverage

Trove of emails, internal documents released by UK parliamentary committee
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2018 3:21 PM CST
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In this file photo dated March 29, 2018, the logo for social media giant Facebook, appears on screens at the Nasdaq MarketSite, in New York's Times Square.   (AP Photo/Richard Drew, FILE)

(Newser) – Even after Facebook agreed to restrict access to user data, the social media giant gave certain companies special access to that data, according to a trove of documents released by a British parliamentary committee Wednesday. The emails and other internal Facebook documents from 2012 to 2015 show that Facebook entered into agreements with companies including Airbnb, Lyft, and Netflix allowing those companies special access, the New York Times reports. Motherboard calls the nearly 250 pages of documents "devastating" for Facebook, but the company says in a statement that the documents were gathered as part of a "baseless case" and "are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context." The statement adds, "The facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data."

BuzzFeed last week published an extensive explainer on the documents: They were gathered by Ted Kramer, the managing director of an app developer that is suing Facebook in California, as part of discovery in that lawsuit; he traveled to the UK on business while they were in his possession, and the House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee, which is investigating Facebook over user data issues, seized the documents from him. It was Damian Collins, the chair of that committee, who then published the documents; he used parliament's sergeant-at-arms to obtain the documents as well as the authority to publish them. The documents also show Facebook debating whether to shut down access to user data for competitors and whether to offer more access to app developers that advertised with Facebook. (Read more Facebook stories.)

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