Report: Amazon May Have Used Facebook User Data to Enforce Rules

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

Amazon may have used data from Facebook users, which was given to the company as part of a secret data-sharing partnership, to better enforce its rules, according to a report.

Gizmodo reported, Wednesday, that “a woman named Imy Santiago wrote an Amazon review of a novel that she had read and liked,” in 2015, which was then “immediately” taken down for allegedly violating Amazon’s policies.

Amazon told Santiago that her review had been removed because “account activity indicates you know the author personally,” however Santiago denied any relationship with the author.

According to Gizmodo, Santiago had “been in the same ballroom with the author in New York a few months before at a book signing event, but had not talked to her, and that she had followed the author on Twitter and Facebook after reading her books.”

“If Amazon was sucking up data from Facebook about who knew whom, it may explain why Santiago’s review was blocked. Because Santiago had followed the author on Facebook, Amazon or its algorithms would see her name and contact information as being connected to the author there,” Gizmodo proclaimed. “Facebook reportedly didn’t let users know this data-sharing was happening nor get their consent, so Santiago, as well as the author presumably, wouldn’t have known this had happened.”

After Gizmodo reached out to Amazon asking whether this was the case, the company replied, “Amazon uses APIs provided by Facebook in order to enable Facebook experiences for our products… For example, giving customers the option to sync Facebook contacts on an Amazon Tablet. We use information only in accordance with our privacy policy.”

Facebook’s data-sharing partnerships with a number of companies, including Amazon, Spotify, Yahoo, Netflix, and Microsoft, were revealed by the New York Times on Tuesday.

According to the New York Times, “Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.”

“The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier,” the Times reported, adding that Spotify “could view messages of more than 70 million users a month.”

Charlie Nash is a reporter for Breitbart Tech. You can follow him on Twitter @MrNashington, or like his page at Facebook.


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