Facebook shared user data with Apple and Samsung

Facebook co-founder Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in April

Facebook co-founder Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrives to testify before a combined Senate Judiciary and Commerce committee hearing in April

Through partnerships that Facebook has with at least 60 device makers including Apple, Samsung, Amazon, BlackBerry and Microsoft, the social network has been sharing members' personal information with the manufacturers.

The report stated that the deals let Facebook expand its reach, and gave manufacturers access to popular Facebook features such as messaging, like buttons, and contact information that could be synchronised with address books. The New York Times said the vast amounts of information shared with Apple Inc. and other phone-makers included data on users' friends that had supposedly barred access.

Even before Facebook apps were widely available on smartphones, Facebook had data-sharing partnerships with the device makers, the report said citing company officials, adding that most of the deals remain in effect.

The report comes as Facebook has come under scrutiny for its handling of private data after it was revealed that Cambridge Analytica accessed millions of users' private information.

Unlike developers that provide games and services to Facebook users, the device partners can use Facebook data only to provide versions of "the Facebook experience", the officials were quoted as saying.

In early April, Facebook estimated that the number of users affected by the data leak was around 87 million.

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Facebook had responded to the Cambridge Analytica scandal by stating that it ceased allowing such third-party access in 2015, but the NYT reports that this doesn't appear to include device makers.

"This was flagged internally as a privacy issue", Sandy Parakilas, who then led Facebook's privacy compliance, told The Times.

The Times piece uses the example of BlackBerry's Hub app, which aims to consolidate a user's messages from various platforms-from Facebook notifications to Gmail emails-into one interface.

In interviews to The New York Times, Facebook however defended its data sharing agreement and asserted that these are consistent with its privacy policies, the FTC agreement and pledges to users.

"In the furor that followed, Facebook's leaders said that the kind of access exploited by Cambridge in 2014 was cut off by the next year, when Facebook prohibited developers from collecting information from users' friends", the New York Times says. A BlackBerry (bb) spokesperson told the paper that the Canadian firm "did not collect or mine the Facebook data of [its] customers". A Microsoft representative said the company started working with Facebook in 2008 but said no data was synced with Microsoft servers as it was stored locally on the phones powered by Microsoft. In April, Facebook started ending the agreements though a lot of them still remain in effect.

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Facebook controlled the APIs tightly, and said the partners signed agreements that prevented information from being used for anything other than to "recreate Facebook-like experience".

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