It’s getting all too common seeing Facebook involved in one scandal or another.
Recently, some confidential Facebook documents were leaked and obtained by NBC news. The documents spanned over 4 years from 2011 to 2015 and they included emails, web chats, meeting summaries, etc.
Facebook claims to protect user data, however, the leaked documents prove how Zuckerberg and his employees are using the data as a bargaining chip.
What’s in the Documents?
The documents are extensive 4000 pages of summaries, chats, strategies, and meetings in which Zuckerberg, along with his employees, strategized on how to use the user data Facebook has collected over the years.
The documents reveal how Facebook used the data as a reward and favored their “friend” companies by giving them access to the data. Amazon one of those “friends” as the company is a huge buyer of Facebook ad boards. As a result, the social media giant has given Amazon extended access to user data.
On the other hand, the company also discussed cutting off data access to messaging apps that were growing popular and becoming rivals for Facebook.
Contrary to Facebook’s public statements, the company has found ways to compensate third-party applications with access to user data, which includes direct payment and data sharing arrangements.
The documents show that Facebook has decided not to sell user data, but access was clearly given to Zuckerberg’s programmer friends for free. This takes us back to when Zuckerberg had denied any kind of preferential treatment to developers or friends and family.
What Facebook Has to Say
As always, Facebook is making confusing statements regarding the leaked documents. They do acknowledge that they wanted to sell the data but, in the end, they decided not to.
However, Facebook also claimed that the documents were handpicked and paint a different misleading picture. Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel at Facebook, said that
As we’ve said many times, Six4Three — creators of the Pikinis app — cherry-picked these documents from years ago as part of a lawsuit to force Facebook to share information on friends of the app’s users. The set of documents, by design, tells only one side of the story and omits important context. We still stand by the platform changes we made in 2014/2015 to prevent people from sharing their friends’ information with developers like the creators of Pikinis. The documents were selectively leaked as part of what the court found was evidence of a crime or fraud to publish some, but not all, of the internal discussions at Facebook at the time of our platform changes. But the facts are clear: we’ve never sold people’s data.
One of the things these documents reveal is that we are living in a privacy myth. Facebook is constantly finding ways to trade private user data for squeezing money.