The British Parliament on Wednesday released a trove of Facebook documents, which it took possession of amid a larger inquiry into Cambridge Analytica, a firm that used Facebook data to profile users for political purposes.
Several emails related to giving Royal Bank access to Facebook friends data in 2013 so the bank could develop an app that would allow customers to transfer money via Facebook Messenger.
Facebook, which has described the Six4Three case as baseless, said the released communications are misleading without additional context, but did not elaborate.
Facebook's director of developer platforms and programs Konstantinos Papamiltiadis told AFP last week that the company "has never sold anyone's data".
"It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted or not", Damian Collins, chair of the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said in a statement accompanying the email excerpts and documents.
The mails also showed Facebook gathered data from phones using the Israeli-made virtual private network app Onavo, which it purchased in 2010.
In a response posted on its blog, Facebook said that whitelists are a common part of testing new features with a limited group of partners before a broader rollout.
Google has also fallen afoul of antitrust laws in 2018, with the European Commission fining the tech giant US$5 billion for anti-competitive behavior in regards to its Android mobile operating system and the apps it uses by default.
U.K. releases Facebook emails about data privacy
In 2015, rising star, Stanford University graduate, victor of the 13th season of "Survivor", and Facebook executive Yul Kwon was profiled by the news outlet Fusion, which described him as "the guy standing between Facebook and its next privacy disaster", guiding the company's engineers through the dicey territory of personal data collection.
One document said such competitor apps had previously needed Zuckerberg's approval before using tools Facebook makes available to app developers. "We also didn't allow developers to use our platform to replicate our functionality or grow their services virally in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook". The documents are part of a USA lawsuit filed against Facebook by California app developer Six4Three.
Friends' data had stoked the growth of many apps because it enabled people to easily connect with Facebook buddies on a new service.
"Unless anyone raises objections, we will shut down their friends API access today", Mr Justin Osofsky, a Facebook executive, said in an e-mail at the time. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it".
Facebook had objected to their release.
But by selectively "whitelisting" certain companies and apps in this policy change, the company was able to protect those apps that brought something to the Facebook platform - such as Airbnb and Netflix - while, it's argued, simultaneously blocking out any potential threats, such as the aforementioned Vine.
Facebook says that the documents may paint a selective picture of the company's actions. "However, that may be good for the world but it's not good for us unless people also share back to Facebook and that content increases the value of our network".
"We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers", the company said in a statement.More news: Mourinho: There are things I can not get from United players
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