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Facebook gave Netflix and Airbnb preferential data access to data, documents reveal

06 December 2018
Facebook gave Netflix and Airbnb preferential data access to data, documents reveal

The emails and other internal Facebook documents from 2012 to 2015 show that Facebook entered into agreements with companies including Airbnb, Lyft, and Netflix allowing those companies special access, the New York Times reports.

Facebook also used Onavo (an Israeli analytics company it bought in 2013) to observe users' overall usage of its mobile apps without their approval or knowledge in order to figure out how many users had downloaded apps and how often they used them. What's more, a 2018 review of the feature found that "the information is not as useful after about a year", which the company argues is really only good for low level tasks like sorting contact lists.

Six4Three's founder, Ted Kramer, had obtained them as part of a legal discovery process in a USA lawsuit against Facebook that his company has brought against the social network in California.

"Sometimes the best way to enable people to share something is to have a developer build a special objective app or network for that type of content and to make that app social by having Facebook plug into it", Zuckerberg wrote in 2012.

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 MPs left an empty for the social network's founder Mark Zuckerberg when he refused to appear at an evidence session in Westminster.

In terms of suffocating rivals, Mr Collins wrote: "The files show evidence of Facebook taking aggressive positions against apps, with the outcome that denying them access to data led to the failure of that business".

Facebook had objected to their release.

The UK has released a 250 page document containing private emails from Facebook, including communiques from Mark Zuckerberg himself.

"We stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends' data with developers", said Facebook's spokeswoman.

"To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app", the summary said. Motherboard calls the almost 250 pages of documents "devastating" for Facebook, but the company says in a statement that the documents were gathered as part of a "baseless case" and "are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context".

"Like any business, we had many internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform", Facebook said.