In the wake of yet another damning report in The New York Times, Facebook is struggling to defend its exploitation of user data.
Essentially, NYT found the tech titan shared far more data with business partners -- like Amazon, Microsoft, Netflix, and Spotify -- than users were aware
Yet, Facebook insists that the oversharing was actually in users’ best interest.
“This work was about helping people,” Konstantinos Papamiltiadis, director of developer platforms and programs, Facebook, argues in a new blog post.
As a result of Facebook’s data-sharing partnerships, Papamiltiadis says it was easier for users to access their Facebook accounts or specific Facebook features on devices and platforms built by third-parties, like Apple, Amazon, Blackberry and Yahoo.
“These are known as integration partners,” Papamiltiadis explains.
Additionally, Papamiltiadis contends the deals afforded users more “social experiences … like seeing recommendations from their Facebook friends … on other popular apps and websites, like Netflix, The New York Times, Pandora and Spotify.”
Papamiltiadis also points out that none of the partnerships in question gave third parties access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate Facebook’s 2012 settlement with the Federal Trade Commission.
Whether the FTC -- which is still investigating Facebook's Cambridge Analytica scandal -- agrees with this assertion remains to be seen.
Other watchdogs are expressing interest in the Times’ latest findings.
For example, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner -- which also happens to be Facebook’s lead European regulator -- is assessing the newspaper's story, Reuters reports.
More broadly, Facebook seems to have spent the better part of 2018 addressing negative news stories.
For instance, recent reports in The New York Times and BuzzFeed revealed that Sheryl Sandberg was not as removed from Facebook’s interest in billionaire financier George Soros as was previously understood.
In a carefully worded blog post, last month, Facebook’s COO said she was unaware the company had hired Definers Public Affairs -- the Republican consultancy that sought to undermine Facebook’s critics by linking them to Soros.
Yet, in response to the news reports, Facebook admitted that Sandberg specifically requested research regarding Soros’ investment activity.
Of course, that about-face stemmed from an even earlier report in The New York Times, which suggested Sandberg and cofounder-CEO Mark Zuckerberg wavered over whether to tell the world about Facebook’s Russian hacking problem.
In response to the original report, Facebook denied that suggestion.
“The story asserts we knew about Russian activity as early as the spring of 2016, but were slow to investigate it at every turn,” the company insisted at the time. “This is not true.”