A British parliamentary on Wednesday accused Facebook to let some companies including Netflix and Airbnb access users list of friends after it cut off that data for most other apps around 2015. The UK parliament’s select media committee published more than 200 pages of internal Facebook emails it has acquired while probing how the giant was being used to manipulate major election results.
Parliament’s media committee seized confidential Facebook documents from the developer of a now-defunct bikini photo searching app as part of its investigation into fake news. In a summary of key issues pertaining to the documents, the committee says Facebook “whitelisted” or breached data to certain companies, even after the tech giant announced changes in 2015 to end access to a user’s “friends.”
The documents show how Facebook executives treated data as the company’s most valuable resource and often wielded it to gain a strategic advantage. Mark Zuckerberg Facebook’s chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer, were intimately involved in decisions aimed at benefiting the social network above all else and keeping users as engaged as possible on the site, according to emails that were part of the document trove.
In one exchange from 2012, Mr. Zuckerberg discussed charging developers for access to user data and persuading them to share their data with the social network. Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg are under scrutiny for their handling of the matters; the executives have publicly said they were slow to respond to some of the problems. While the release of the internal documents adds to Facebook’s challenges as it wrestles with issues as varied as how it enabled the spread of misinformation and whether it properly safeguarded the data of its users.
The committee’s seizure of the documents, which were under seal by a court in the United States, came after the CEO of Six4Three, Theodore Kramer, was threatened with arrest while on a business trip to London if he didn’t hand over the material. The summary said the documents also show Facebook knew that an update to its Android mobile app phone system which enabled the Facebook app to collect user call logs would be controversial.