Facebook granted some tech firms full access to its user data as it sought to cultivate lucrative business ties with them - long after it said it was dropping the practice because of privacy concerns, according to an explosive cache of secret documents and emails.
A cache of internal Facebook documents released by a United Kingdom member of Parliament show how CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives wrestled with how to monetize their valuable user data while still encouraging third-party apps to post user activity on Facebook.
Internal emails at Facebook Inc., including those involving Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, were published online by a committee of United Kingdom lawmakers investigating social media's role in the spread of fake news.
However, The Verge reports that according to the emails Facebook developers tried finding ways to manipulate Android's data permissions so that it could automatically enrol users.
"There's a big question on where we get the revenue from", Zuckerberg said in one email.
The e-mails also lay out how Facebook debated whether to restrict app developers' access to some data unless those developers bought advertising on the social network, a policy the company now says it never enacted.
"We've prepared reactive PR", Osofsky wrote, to which Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it". 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".
U.K. releases Facebook emails about data privacy
In a statement released Wednesday, Royal Bank said the service was launched in December 2013 and that it learned about Facebook's change in the access two years later.
The U.K. committee seized the documents from app developer Six4Three, maker of a now-defunct bikini-picture search app. Six4Three acquired the files as part of a USA lawsuit that accuses Facebook of deceptive, anti-competitive business practices. 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".
In 2015, rising star, Stanford University graduate, victor of the 13th season of "Survivor", and Facebook executive Yul Kwon was profiled by the news outlet Fusion, which described him as "the guy standing between Facebook and its next privacy disaster", guiding the company's engineers through the dicey territory of personal data collection. "We also didn't allow developers to use our platform to replicate our functionality or grow their services virally in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook".
The documents were brought to light by United States software company Six4Three, which were gathered as part of a legal case against the social network.
This isn't the first time Facebook has been in hot water for dodgy practises - in fact, it's becoming a recurring theme ever since details of the Cambridge Analytica scandal emerged early this year, but the newly-released emails provide a level of detail that's far more candid than anything previously uncovered.
"Other ideas we considered but decided against included charging developers for usage of our platform, similar to how developers pay to use Amazon AWS or Google Cloud", he wrote.
Facebook did give preferred access to certain companies like Netflix, which was "whitelisted" to use data not available to everyone. According to Bloomberg, the California courts sealed the emails, but the United Kingdom compelled the Six4Three founder to hand over a laptop containing the emails, which were acquired during discovery, when the founder visited London. Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was happening.