Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Facebook gave Netflix and Airbnb preferential data access to data, documents reveal

Facebook gave Netflix and Airbnb preferential data access to data, documents reveal

"The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps, with the effect that denying them access to data led to the failure of that business", said Collins.

Facebook gave some companies, including Netflix and Airbnb, preferential access to user data in 2015 as it limited services for most others, according to company emails and presentations released by a British lawmaker.

The defunct app developer obtained them as part of its ongoing lawsuit in California state court alleging that Facebook violated promises to developers.

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.

Indeed, Facebook appeared to view access to user data as so valuable that CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally approved a decision to restrict a rival social networking platform from accessing it, according to internal emails.

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The documents show an exchange between Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, in which they chose to stop giving friends' list access to Vine on the day that social media rival Twitter Inc launched the video-sharing service. "Based on their initial testing, it seems that this would allow us to upgrade users without subjecting them to an Android permissions dialogue at all", Yul Kwon, a Facebook developer, wrote. Damien Geradin, a Brussels-based lawyer at Euclid Law, said the refusal of access to Vine data could be seen as a "potential refusal to deal" with rivals, "but you would need to show that Facebook" is essential to users and it is "not clear it is".

Six4Three's founder, Ted Kramer, had obtained them as part of a legal discovery process in a US lawsuit against Facebook that his company has brought against the social network in California. The files were seized by United Kingdom authorities just over a week ago when Ted Kramer, founder of U.S. software firm Six4Three, was in London. "Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform", Facebook said in an emailed statement.

Zuckerberg in 2012 underestimated how much giving developers access to data could be a risk.

Don't forget: It's all about apps hosted on Facebook's platform and their access to friends' data, an especially important topic in the light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal earlier this year. With regards to Onavo, Facebook argues "we've always been clear when people download Onavo about the information that is collected and how it is used, including by Facebook".

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