Facebook confirms user data shared with "whitelisted" companies

Facebook confirms user data shared with

Facebook said that it only allowed access to third party companies for improving user experiences and not to the friends' private information such as photos and interests. This includes data such as phone numbers and "friend links", which measure the degree of closeness between users and their friends.

The information comes from sources speaking with The Wall Street Journal, which reports that Facebook had "whitelist" deals with Nissan and the Royal Bank of Canada, among others.

Internally called "whitelists", these secretive deals "allowed certain companies to access additional information about a user's Facebook friends", the Journal reported, citing court documents and anonymous Facebook officials. The deals gave device makers access to users' information, such as relationship status and political affiliation.

"Disclosure of the deals punctures a hole in the picture Facebook has tried to paint as a suddenly user-friendly, privacy-minded company after 2014-not that anyone was buying that image anyway", Dellinger wrote. In the past two weeks, the New York Times reported that Facebook had data-sharing contracts with 60 device makers - including Apple, Samsung and the Chinese manufacturers Huawei and Lenovo. "But other than that, things were shut down", Archibong said.

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Facebook seems to be mired in yet another controversy regarding its sharing of user data.

It "isn't clear when all of the deals ultimately expired or how many companies got extensions", the daily said.

Facebook's deals with Huawei drew special scrutiny, as heads of CIA, FBI, NSA and the director of US national intelligence in February warned Americans from using Huawei devices because they were concerned the company shared data with the Chinese government. According to Ime Archibong, Facebook's Vice President of Product Partnerships, the company allowed some firms to have "short-term extensions" to this user data. Those agreements provided access to friends' data, raising compliance issues with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission.

That didn't stop Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan from stealing data from 87 million users through a personality quiz app and sharing it with Cambridge Analytica.

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