Facebook formed special deals with select companies that granted them access to the data of users and their friends well past 2015, when the social media company said it cut off developer access to that information, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Referred to as “whitelists,” the special agreements allowed companies to access information, like phone numbers of users’ friends and degree of closeness between users, according to the Wall Street Journal.
These customized deals were mostly separate from the 60 or so deals Facebook revealed this week it had struck with device makers. Some major companies who received such deals include Nissan and RBC Capital Markets, as well as advertisers and Facebook partners that are valuable for other reasons.
Many of the companies granted these special agreements, like Nissan and RBC Capital Markets, are advertisers or Facebook partners that are valuable for other reasons. The revelation demonstrates a wider array of companies had access to user data than was previously suspected, prompting questions about who has access to Facebook user data and why.
Facebook officials told the Wall Street Journal the company struck deals with developers to improve user experience and allow certain partners to wind down data-sharing projects. The company also told the Journal it allowed some partners to continue accessing user data and the data of users’ friends sometimes for weeks and months after it cut off access to everyone else in 2015.
These new reports emerge amid Facebook’s highly publicized attempts to recover from a data scandal that rocked the social media company in March. Facebook came under fire after reports emerged that political data analytics company Cambridge Analytica accessed the data of over 50 million users of the social media network without their permission. This scale of data gathering was only possible because a developer created an app called “thisisyourdigitallife,” which not only harvested about 300,000 consenting users’ data, but also gathered data from their Facebook friends.