United Kingdom lawmakers just released a trove of Facebook emails

06 December, 2018, 09:55 | Author: Sue Mclaughlin
  • Facebook Inc. headquarters in Menlo Park Calif.					David Paul Morris  Bloomberg

The defunct app developer obtained them as part of its ongoing lawsuit in California state court alleging that Facebook violated promises to app developers when it ended their access to likes, photos and other data of users' friends in 2015. According to Bloomberg, the California courts sealed the emails, but the United Kingdom compelled the Six4Three founder to hand over a laptop containing the emails, which were acquired during discovery, when the founder visited London.

Facebook did give preferred access to certain companies like Netflix, which was "whitelisted" to use data not available to everyone.

Facebook also found ways to access users' call history without alerting them in order to improve their "People You May Know" suggestions and newsfeed rankings, the documents show.

Damian Collins, a British Member of Parliament, released 250 pages of emails and findings on Wednesday that examine how Facebook treated user data amid its increasing dominance in the social media market from about 2012 to 2015. "What I'm assuming we'll do here is have a few basic thresholds of [access] and once you pass a threshold you either need to pay us some fixed amount to get to the next threshold or you get rate limited at the lower threshold", he said in an email dated November 19, 2012.

Mr Zuckerberg posted his own response on Facebook after the publication of the documents, saying the company had limited its access to certain apps and made other changes to prevent abuse of its platform.

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally oversaw a list of competitors and decided whether they could access its platform data or not. "Communicate in one-go to all apps that don't spend that those permission will be revoked". "Sometimes the best way to enable people to share something is to have a developer build a special objective app or network for that type of content and to make that app social by having Facebook plug into it". "We've never sold people's data". "But instead of requiring developers to buy advertising - the option discussed in these cherry picked emails - we ultimately settled on a model where developers did not need to purchase advertising to access [data] and we continued to provide the developer platform for free".

A memo describing Facebook's plan for "Platform 3.0", the new version of its app platform, makes it very clear that the company won't share user data with companies it does not want to. Another email from Sachin Monga, who was a product developer at Facebook Canada at the time, noted that Royal Bank was a whitelist entity and added: "I believe [the new RBC app] will be one of the biggest [advertising] campaigns ever run in Canada".

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.

Facebook's statement goes into specifics, detailing each of the concerns raised thus far by the exposed communications, although arguably, numerous provided answers do not completely address the issues raised - in some cases going off on tangents and pointing towards other mechanisms involved.

"When considering the implications of reciprocity it is important to note that a second order principle quickly emerges: competitive access", it says. That proposal was never implemented, according to Facebook.

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