Facebook Shared Your Private Messages With Netflix And Spotify

Facebook has just admitted that it has allowed external companies - such as Spotify and Netflix - access to millions of its users' private messages.

The social media platform made the bombshell revelation in response to a New York Times report on how Facebook shares user data with its partners.

According to Facebook, it allows this to happen so that users can log into services like Spotify and Netflix through their Facebook accounts and send messages through the apps.

Writing in a blog post, the company said: "Did partners get access to messages? Yes. But people had to explicitly sign in to Facebook first to use a partner's messaging feature. Take Spotify for example.

Facebook responded to accusations in a blog post. Credit: Unsplash
Facebook responded to accusations in a blog post. Credit: Unsplash

"After signing in to your Facebook account in Spotify's desktop app, you could then send and receive messages without ever leaving the app.

"Our API provided partners with access to the person's messages in order to power this type of feature."

The New York Times claimed that Spotify could see the messages of more than 70 million Facebook users every month.

It also reports that Netflix, Spotify and the Royal Bank of Canada could read through, write out and even delete users' messages.

Netflix and Spotify said they were unaware of special access. Credit: Pexels
Netflix and Spotify said they were unaware of special access. Credit: Pexels

However, Facebook insisted that there was no evidence of these companies abusing their power in being able to access people's private messages.

Both Spotify and Netflix told the publication that they were unaware of any special access to private messages.

And a spokesperson for Netflix told PRETTY52: "Over the years we have tried various ways to make Netflix more social. One example of this was a feature we launched in 2014 that enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix. It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015.

"At no time did we access people's private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so."

Facebook's former privacy chief, Alex Stamos, has defended Facebook in light of the reports.

He said: "I'm sorry, but allowing for 3rd party clients is the kind of pro-competition move we want to see from dominant platforms. For [example], making Gmail only accessible to Android and the Gmail app would be horrible. For the NY Times to try to scandalize this kind of integration is wrong."

However, he did criticise Facebook's handling of the matter, writing: "This isn't a good response from Facebook to the NY Times story, because it makes the same mistake of blending all kinds of different integrations and models into a bunch of prose and it is very hard to match up the responses to the Times' claims."

Featured Image Credit: Unsplash

Rachel Andrews

Rachel Andrews is an NCTJ trained Journalist at PRETTY52. She specialises in Fashion and Beauty Journalism, and has experience at a range of online and print publications and joined the team in 2017. Contact her - rachel.andrews@pretty52.com

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