Report: Facebook Considered Offering Big Advertisers Access to User Data

Mark Zuckerberg is seen at the Facebook developer conference in 2010, at a time of rapid growth of the social network
AFP

According to internal Facebook emails revealed by the Wall Street Journal, the social media giant considered cutting deals with third party companies in order to provide them with access to Facebook user data.

According to internal Facebook emails review by the Wall Street Journalthe social media firm discussed cutting deals with companies in exchange for access to the personal data of two billion Facebook users. The emails were secured as part of a lawsuit brought against the firm in California by the app startup Six4Three which alleges that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg developed a “malicious and fraudulent scheme” to take advantage of Facebook users’ personal data and force other rival companies out of business. Emails obtained from the lawsuit appear to show Facebook executives discussing the idea of pushing advertisers to spend more in order to gain access to further profile information on Facebook users.

The report claims that in one email, an unnamed Facebook employee suggested shutting down companies’ access to data “in one-go to all apps that don’t spend… at least $250k a year to maintain access to the data.” In another email, the idea of settling a trademark issue with the Match Group over the popular dating app Tinder by giving the company continued access to Facebook data was discussed. This matter has since been settled but not in exchange for user data according to the companies.

The emails reportedly date from 2012 to 2014, starting shortly after Facebook’s IPO, giving an insight into how the company struggled to generate revenue from their massive database of user information. Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, Facebook’s director of developer platforms and programs, claimed in a statement: “To be clear, Facebook has never sold anyone’s data.”

In a statement sent to Business Insider, Papamiltiadis further added: “As we’ve said many times, the documents Six4Three gathered for this baseless case are only part of the story and are presented in a way that is very misleading without additional context. Evidence has been sealed by a California court so we are not able to disprove every false accusation. That said, we stand by the platform changes we made in 2015 to stop a person from sharing their friends’ data with developers. Any short-term extensions granted during this platform transition were to prevent the changes from breaking user experience. To be clear, Facebook has never sold anyone’s data. Our APIs have always been free of charge and we have never required developers to pay for using them, either directly or by buying advertising.”

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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