Facebook is dealing with another privacy scandal after a New York Times investigation revealed that the social media giant gave major corporations access to users’ names and contact information, friends lists and most disturbingly access to users posts and messages without their consent.
150 corporations benefited from their data sharing partnership with Facebook including Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix and Spotify. Facebook was able to get around the need to obtain users’ consent by defining these business partnerships as an extension of Facebook itself.
Facebook has a consent agreement with the United States’ Federal Trade Commission in 2011 which was designed to prevent it from sharing user data with third parties without explicit permission. The Trade Commission now concedes Facebook has found a loophole. They have now opened a new inquiry into Facebook’s compliance with the consent order.
This new scandal follows the Cambridge Analytica revelations in March this year that the political consulting firm had used Facebook data without users’ consent to build tools to assist President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign. Facebook Chairman Mark Zuckerberg was hauled before a US Senate hearing in April to reassure lawmakers that they were responding to users’ privacy concerns.
As a result of this latest privacy scandal there are now calls from shareholders for Zuckerberg to step aside as chairman. There is also a shareholders’ lawsuit against Facebook alleging that executives failed to impose proper privacy safeguards.
Facebook’s continued privacy breaches as well as it’s lack of respect for free speech has led to many users deactivating their Facebook accounts and moving onto other platforms such as MeWe, Minds.com and Gab.ai. These latest privacy revelations are easily the most serious and will lead to more sustained scrutiny on Facebook.