Before the changes were implemented, app developers such as Cambridge University researcher Aleksandr Kogan were able to collect information on up to 87 million Facebook users because they were friends of about 270,000 users who used Kogan's quiz app and agreed to share their data. The report indicated that this data pertained to users' friends, such as their phone numbers and a measure of how closely linked individuals were in a shared network of friends.
This time the social networking giant has been accused of granting special access to user's data to some selected companies.
Ime Archibong, Facebook's vice president of product partnerships, said in a statement Friday that the deals only involved allowing users to share their friends' lists with Facebook apps, not their friends' personal information such as photos or interests. "But other than that, things were shut down", Archibong said.
"As we were winding down over the year, there was a small number of companies that asked for short-term extensions, and that, we worked through with them". Still, the Journal reports that it isn't clear when the deals expired or what companies received extensions. The sources allege that Facebook called these deals "whitelists" behind closed doors, having specifically struck them with the companies.
Facebook is back in the controversy spotlight following a new report claiming it had data-sharing deals with some companies. Zuckerberg has apologized for not doing enough to protect user data. Those agreements provided access to friends' data, raising compliance issues with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. It was not yet known users in which country were affected the most. Facebook gave select "whitelisted" companies extensions before they were also blocked from getting its users' personal information.
According to the report, Facebook reached agreements with a number of major corporations to provide data about the friends of its users. Mark Zuckerberg, speaking before the U.S. Congress, spoke about the decision to prohibit application developers access to user information by may 2015, like The Wall Street Journal, noting that later it became known about prolongation of this term for some firms.
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