Earlier this December, the UK Parliament committee released documents revealing internal emails within Facebook. These emails have shocked the world and the embattled social media giant has once again become the target of UK government after Cambridge Analytica controversy.
What Do The Documents Show?
The documents with 250 pages contain internal emails between Facebook’s executives. The documents were a part of the evidence of a lawsuit which was filed against Facebook by Six4Three. The documents, noted by Damian Collins, Chair of Digital, culture, media and sports committee (DCMS) show that Facebook indulged in malpractices after its platform changes in 2014-15. The company is guilty of compromising users’ data to app developers.
It is alleged that Facebook leaked user data to companies like Airbnb and Netflix. It was in whitelisting agreements with many companies, it also has the access to record all the calls on an Android system. The company is guilty of taking aggressive actions towards its competitors, because of this policy many small-scale companies couldn’t progress.
Facebook gained complete access to friends’ data after the launch of Platform 3.0, it took advantage of the data and sold it to many partners and friend companies. The company understood users’ activities and collect usage data of its competitors. It then gave access to those companies which were preferred by users and put restraints on other or rival companies. A total of 27,019 apps were affected because Facebook denied them access to its’ platform and to data. Some of them even shut down because of Facebook.
How Facebook Broke Privacy Laws
Collins, Member of Parliament, said in an official statement, “We need a public debate about the rights of social media users and the smaller businesses who are required to work with tech giants.” The committee investigation on Facebook and its malpractices came to a point where they didn’t receive any clarification from the company regarding all the “data breach” allegations.hence, they released the “internal email” documents. Many other DCMS committee members supported Collins since personal data has been at risk since years. To generate revenue through different systems and make more profit from partners, Facebook broke privacy laws and put users’ personal data into peril.
Politicians across the globe are angry. Officials from Australia and America are either telling people to leave the app or want Facebook to make amends as soon as possible. Google trends show an average of 70 points on the search “#stopfacebook”. Richard Blumenthal, US Senator said, “Mounting evidence Facebook acted chaotically, recklessly, and lawlessly by granting access to private consumer data for financial gain. These new documents show clearly that Facebook failed to heed their consent decree agreement and basic standards of privacy.”
Mark Zuckerberg Ducks The Debate
Mark Zuckerberg took to his Facebook account to defend himself. Although his statement gave no clarification about the data breach, he explained how his company didn’t indulge in breach of ethics, he said, “After the launch of the Facebook platform in 2007, many shady apps abused users data. To prevent such measures, a new platform was launched in 2014 to limit data apps on the platform. Only those abusive apps were removed from the platform.” Zuckerberg is accused of acquiring “Onavo”, an analytics company which browsed users data to retrieve data about rival companies’ performance.
To his defence, Zuckerberg added, “We faced an issue of making our platform economically sustainable, so we continued to provide the developers’ platform for free and they could choose ads which they wanted. Our model encouraged a lot of internal discussions and we have focused on preventing abusive apps for years.” He also said that the change in platform was necessary to protect the community and don’t misinterpret our actions and motives.
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Jignasa pursued her bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology and is currently a trainee journalist at IIJNM. Her mind is usually preoccupied with art, music, food and travel.