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Did Facebook Provide User Data Access to Device Makers?

Not long ago, Facebook and its CEO came under fire for compromising the data and security of its users. Even non-users were not safe, considering how Facebook was keeping tabs on them through their laptop mics. and camera.

Wait, what, again!?

Mr. Zuckerberg never fails to stay out of the limelight, and this time again he’s made headlines for giving access to users’ data,  as well their friends’ data to about 60 device manufacturers.

The list of device makers included big names including; Microsoft, Apple, Blackberry, and Samsung.

As a result of this violation, Facebook is in breach of the FTC 2011 agreement, in addition to disregarding the pledge the company undertook to safeguard the privacy of its user base.

As usual, the social media giant has denied the accusation (like there’s ever a company to own up to the charges brought against them). The story was published by NY Times where it stated that Facebook could not obtain explicit consent of its users before “selling” data to the 60 device manufacturers.

This is what really went down

For Facebook, association with these 60 companies granted users the ability to like, comment and share posts without actually having to use the Facebook app since Facebook developed APIs led companies to combine their devices with the application.

For companies, they had unrestricted access to over 2 billion in user data, including users’ friends, friends of friends and even the ones who outright denied permission for sharing information with the third-parties.

Times’ report is very well researched. Their office had this put to test by using its reporter’s BlackBerry Hub app.

The revelation might shock you. The app showed information on 556 of the reporter’s friends, which were pretty detailed such as friends’ birthdays, their respective work and education history.

Imagine, third parties learning about your political tendencies/ affiliations, religious views, and sexual preferences – all because you happen to be friends with THAT one person on Facebook! And this is not mere guesswork.

(In the reporter’s case above), the app was found to have provided 50 different types of information on a total of 294,258 individuals (as stated) made up of THAT person’s friends, friends of friends and even the people he/she may have come across on the sidewalk.

(That last bit, jk!)

To sum up

All in all, it’s no use whether or not you choose to keep data sharing off.

Now, just to be clear that we are not taking sides with NY Times, here’s the rebuttal by the Facebook administration to the New York Times’ post.

Is it the violation of Facebook’s 2011 settlement with FTC? Was Mr. Zuckerberg lying to Congress about “complete control” over your (user) data? At this time, it’s anybody’s guess.

Also Read: Key Takeaways From Mark Zuckerberg’s Deposition At Capitol Hill

Is there hope?

You can exercise precautionary measures such as placing a tape on your laptop or on your microphone. Moreover, you can choose a good VPN software, which will enable you to encrypt your data and anonymize your identity online without keeping any browsing logs of your activity.

Consider options such as NAT Firewall or a VPN with a Dedicated IP feature because the internet is dark and full of terrors.

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