Facebook gave RBC, other companies preferential access to users' data, documents show

Documents show Facebook used user data as competitive weapon

Facebook contemplated the negative effects of slurping Android user data, then did it anyway

Facebook allowed some companies to maintain "full access" to users' friends data even after announcing changes to its platform in 2014/2015 to limit what developers' could see.

But the day it published, Kwon was apparently chatting with other Facebook staffers about how the company could vacuum up the call logs of its users without the Android operating system getting in the way by asking for the user for specific permission, according to confidential Facebook documents released today by the British Parliament.

The emails show Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg mulling charging app developers for data access in 2012.

Additionally, Collins stated in his summary of the key issues, "it is clear that increasing revenues from major app developers was one of the key drivers behind the Platform 3.0 changes at Facebook".

The current controversy centers around the same platform policy change of 2014/15 that ultimately brought us the Cambridge Analytica debacle, which saw Facebook prevent apps from requesting access to friends' information. The engineer suggested shutting down Vine's access to the friends feature, to which Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it".

In one email, dated February 4, 2015, a Facebook engineer said a feature of the Android Facebook app that would "continually upload" a user's call and SMS history would be a "high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective".

"Americans' data belongs to them, not Facebook", said Senator Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. He explained his rationale for releasing the emails in a tweet: "We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents".

According to a just-published Washington Post report, Facebook is being accused of giving "select companies preferential access to valuable user data", possibly without the users' consent.

This echoes the accusation made by app developer Six4Three, from whom the documents were seized.

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According to Mr Collins' note, Facebook used analytics software to "conduct global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers. apparently without their knowledge".

The company's critics said the new revelations reinforced their concerns over what users actually know about how Facebook treats their data.

The committee's seizure of the documents, which were under seal by a court in the United States, came after the CEO of Six4Three, Theodore Kramer, was threatened with arrest while on a business trip to London if he didn't hand over the material.

The documents shine a spotlight on Facebook's behaviour from roughly 2012 to 2015, a period of explosive growth as the company navigated how to manage the information it was gathering on users and debated how best to profit from what it was building.

"These developers do not want to participate in the ecosystem we have created, but rather build their own ecosystem at the expense of our users, other developers and, of course, us".

It was this feature that was exploited to harvest data as part of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

A spokesman for Facebook was unable to immediately comment.

In a later statement emailed to Fast Company, the company cautioned that some of the documents, which were originally turned over in a California lawsuit, could be misleading and don't necessarily reflect actual company practices. Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was happening.

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