Facebook’s relationship with partner companies came under further scrutiny, after it was found it offered deeper access to user records in a series of customised data sharing deals.
The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported Facebook struck agreements, known internally as whitelists, with a small group of companies allowing access to users’ data including connections, phone numbers and a metric which measures the closeness of a user with others in its network.
Facebook acknowledged the deals to WSJ, which includes agreements with companies including Royal Bank of Canada and car maker Nissan, among others. Aceess was offered to companies which advertise on the social network or were valuable for other reasons, the newspaper said.
The company continued to offer such access for periods lasting weeks and months after declaring it had cut off access to third party developers in 2015.
Company officials told WSJ Facebook struck the deals to improve user experience, test new features and allow certain partners to wind down existing data sharing projects.
The revelation is the latest in a string of setbacks for the company, which faced fierce criticism in recent months over its data sharing activities.
Last week, Facebook’s data sharing practices with 60 device makers, including China-headquartered vendors, was flagged by a US politician. The company also continues to deal with the fallout of revelations in March it shared data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced scrutiny from politicians in the US and Europe following the scandal, during which he stated the company moved to eliminate broad access to information about users’ friends in 2014, with developers given until May 2015 to comply, added WSJ.