Facebook under fire again: criminal investigation launched against the Social Media giant

Facebook under fire again: criminal investigation launched against the Social Media giant

Facebook under fire again: criminal investigation launched against the Social Media giant

Written by Lahiru Fernando

14 Mar, 2019 | 2:03 pm

Facebook is under fire again and being probed for allegedly sharing its users’ data with dozens of tech companies without the knowledge of its users.

A criminal investigation has been launched into over 150 data deals struck by Facebook, while The New York Times reported that a New York grand jury subpoenaed two smartphone manufacturers involved in the partnerships as part of the investigation.

A spokesman for Facebook has stated that the company is cooperating with investigators and that it takes these probes seriously.

“We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.” – said the Spokesman

The alleged data which have been shared without users’ knowledge included; friends’ names, genders and birth dates.

Facebook’s secretive data-sharing partnerships allegedly allowed tech companies such as Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Spotify to read, write, and even delete users’ private messages, see users’ contacts through their friends, and otherwise bypass Facebook’s privacy settings, even if the user opted to disable sharing in the hope of avoiding such intrusion.

Though Facebook claimed that it halted the practice of sharing information in May 2015, the company continued to do so with 61 hardware and software makers.

According to reports by The New York Times, companies such as Apple were able to access contact numbers and calendar entries from users, even if those users had disabled all sharing. However, Apple maintains it had “no idea” that Facebook had given it special access and says that the company did not remove data from users’ devices.

Meanwhile, Facebook has previously defended the data-sharing deals, saying none of the partnerships gave companies access to information without people’s permission.

The company is facing a flurry of lawsuits and regulatory inquiries over its privacy practices, including ongoing investigations by;

  • The U.S. Federal Trade Commission
  • The Securities and Exchange Commission
  • Two state agencies in New York

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has been considering a multi-billion-dollar fine on Facebook – which would be the largest ever imposed ever since the Cambridge Analytica incident which saw Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg testify before the U.S. Congress and the European Parliament.

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