In order to secure its place as the world's top social media service, Facebook struck deals with phone and other device manufacturers to collect vast amounts of users' personal data. The social media giant was revealed to have data-sharing agreements in place with over 60 device-makers including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft, and Samsung. Some of the deals started so early it was before Facebook apps were even widely available.
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The majority of the deals struck behind-closed-doors are still in effect today and have allowed Facebook to cement it's position at the top of the social media food chain and gave device-makers premium access to allow them to offer more of Facebook's popular features to their own customers. The exact scope of the data sharing was not revealed until concerns about the social media giant's privacy protections came under scrutiny including the company's compliance with a 2011 consent law with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.
Facebook gave device manufacturers exclusive access to data of users' friends without their consent, despite previously declaring it would no longer share private information without consent. Some companies that struck deals with Facebook were even given access to personal information from users' friends who thought they had made their profiles completely private. Lawmakers and regulators perked up after reports that a political consulting firm called Cambridge Analytica misused the private information of millions of Facebook users.
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Now regulators are going to be at the company's throat for answers now that these even more privacy breaches have been disclosed. Serge Egelman, a privacy researcher at the University of California, Berkeley said, "You might think that Facebook or the device manufacturer is trustworthy. But the problem is that as more and more data is collected on the device - and if it can be accessed by apps on the device - it creates serious privacy and security risks."
Naturally, Facebook officials declared the data sharing was consistent with its privacy policies and FTC regulations. In defense of the secret partnerships, the social media company said its partnerships were governed by contracts that severely restricted the use of the data, including the data stored on the partners' servers. They Facebook officials were adamant they knew of no cases where users private information was misused. The company's vice president Ime Archibong said, "These partnerships work very differently from the way in which app developers use our platform."
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