The British Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport Committee released internal Facebook files from 2012-2015 that document when the tech giant was beginning to manage its data trove. However, Facebook continues to insist that they never sold user data, as they explained to Congress in April. So, what did they really do with this personal information?
Well, let’s just say it’s a story of applications and user data. Committee Chair Damian Collins released the documents because they “…raise important questions about how Facebook treats user data, their policies for working with app developers, and how they exercise their dominant position in the social media market.”
How did the Committee get these revealing documents?
Chairman Collins was able to access this information thanks to a separate lawsuit involving a tech company called Six4Three. Six4Three developed a way to sort through Facebook contacts looking for bikini photos– they dubbed the application “Pinkini” (pretty gross, we know).
Anyway, Six4Three is suing Facebook due to an incident in April 2015 where Facebook yanked the access that made this algorithm possible. Specifically, Facebook walled off access to their Graph API and its Friends’ Photos Endpoint. Six4Three’s marketing director then shared these Facebook documents with Chairman Collins.
What is in them?
After April 2015 Facebook restricted the list of companies it gave access to user information, favouring certain developers while blocking others, like Six4Three. The exposed documents include Facebook weighing which developers to befriend, and a long history of internal correspondence that documents Mark Zuckerberg flirting with selling access to user data.
Below are the list of concerns raised by the Committee:
- Value of Friends Data
- Targeting Competitor Apps
These concerns can be split into two themes: Facebook stifling competition by deciding who has privileged access to user information, and Facebook gathering user data without consent.
This week a British Parliament committee published some internal Facebook emails, which mostly include internal…
Over the past year governments have had multiple discussions with Facebook regarding the spread of online fake news and election tampering. Mark Zuckerberg has refused to testify in person before this Committee.