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Facebook Struck Deals Over Data and Burnt Rivals, Say Lawmakers

05 December 2018

The emails feature in a case being heard in a California court filed against the giant by the now-defunct United States app developer Six4Three.

The cache was seized in November as part of a fake news enquiry and have now been published on the parliament website.

The release covers 250 pages including the MPs' summary and exhibits including emails from figures including Mark Zuckerberg and internal Facebook documents.

"Facebook have clearly entered into whitelisting agreements with certain companies, which meant that after the platform changes in 2014/15 they maintained full access to friends data", Collins said in a statement.

Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs Konstantinos Papamiltiadis told AFP last week that the company "has never sold anyone's data".

Committee chair Damian Collins said it was not clear from the private exchanges between Facebook and app developers whether users were aware that their friends list and other private information was being used.

That approach allegedly included using Onavo, an Israeli analytics company Facebook bought in 2013, to conduct global surveys of mobile app usage to determine whether or not Facebook should be threatened by rivals or consider acquiring them - as it did in the case of Instagram and WhatsApp.

"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents", Collins said on Twitter.

"Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform".

The documents show an exchange between Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, in which they made a decision to stop giving friends' data access to Vine on the day that social media rival Twitter launched the video-sharing service. The social network itself received data about how people were using third party apps in return.

'To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard of possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app'.

Zuckerberg's response, according to the email, was to "go for it".

Facebook's staff also discuss "exploring a path" where call log information was requested without asking permission from the phone's owner.

Facebook Struck Deals Over Data and Burnt Rivals, Say Lawmakers