?Facebook gave favored companies like Airbnb, Tinder, Netflix special access to your data
A huge dossier of secret documents about the Facebook data scandal was published by British MPs today in defiance of a US court order.
The emails and private messages reveal how Facebook wanted to leverage favored companies like Airbnb, Lyft, and Netflix into spending big on advertising in return for access to user data.
The messages discuss changes that Facebook made to its site in 2015 which limited the amount of data that certain apps could extract from the Facebook friends of their users.
The ThisIsYourDigitalLife app exploited this feature to get information from millions of Facebook profiles despite only having around 300,000 direct users, which it later sold to political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.
Damian Collins, the chairman of Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said the documents show Facebook entering into agreements with select companies to allow them access to data after the company made policy changes that restricted access for others.
In emails sent ahead of the changes being implemented, Facebook senior staff discussed ‘whitelisting’ several apps – including Netflix, Lyft, Tinder, and AirBnB – meaning they would keep full access to friend data.
However, the emails make it clear that access to such data would depend on how much the companies were paying Facebook.
Other emails show the company debating whether to give app developers that spent money advertising with it more access to its data. In other instances, Facebook discussed shutting off access to companies it viewed as competitors.
Defending his decision to publish the papers, which contravenes a California judge who ruled they should remain a secret, he added that there was a ‘considerable public interest’.
He said Facebook had failed to give ‘straight answers’ to his inquiry after Mark Zuckerberg failed to show up to a grand committee featuring politicians from eight countries last week.