Facebook embroiled in yet another privacy scandal

With barely two weeks left of 2018, Facebook has been indicted in yet another privacy and security scandal, following a comprehensive investigation by the New York Times.

According to the publication, the user data that Facebook shares with its corporate partners for advertising purposes is far more expansive than previously thought, including everything from contact lists to your private messages.

The NYT named Netflix, Spotify, and the Royal Bank of Canada as the companies that were given access to private messages, while other companies like Amazon, Sony, and Microsoft, were given access to information on users' Facebook friends.

Netflix, Spotify, and the Royal Bank of Canada all claim they didn't know how much private data they had been given access to by Facebook. Netflix has also released an official statement, saying: "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.”

The revelation has come about after the NYT obtained internal documents from Facebook, as well as interviewing former employees. 

A bad year for Facebook

Tech giant Apple also had a special arrangement with Facebook according to the NYT report, which says: "Facebook empowered Apple to hide from Facebook users all indicators that its devices were asking for data."

"Apple devices also had access to the contact numbers and calendar entries of people who had changed their account settings to disable all sharing, the records show."

This latest report comes after a barrage of privacy scandals afflicted the social media giant this year, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed the consulting firm that backed Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign gathered personal data from around 50 million users.

As well as that, a huge data breach earlier this year that compromised the security of 30 million Facebook users, ensured that public trust in the social network has remained in steady decline over 2018, even though user numbers haven't followed the same trend.

It remains to be seen whether this latest scandal will affect user numbers in a meaningful way, but we can be certain about one thing: Facebook has been playing hard and fast with our personal data for a long time, and the Cambridge Analytica scandal was only the tip of the iceberg.

Via Gizmodo

Olivia Tambini

Olivia was previously TechRadar's Senior Editor - Home Entertainment, covering everything from headphones to TVs. Based in London, she's a popular music graduate who worked in the music industry before finding her calling in journalism. She's previously been interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live on the subject of multi-room audio, chaired panel discussions on diversity in music festival lineups, and her bylines include T3, Stereoboard, What to Watch, Top Ten Reviews, Creative Bloq, and Croco Magazine. Olivia now has a career in PR.