Facebook under criminal investigation over controversial user data-sharing deals with phone manufacturers: Sources

Social media company Facebook is reportedly under criminal investigation in New York for data-sharing deals they allegedly made with two prominent technology companies.

Citing sources, The New York Times reported that federal prosecutors are reviewing a deal Facebook made with two leading manufacturers of smartphone and other devices. A New York grand jury has reportedly suspended records from the two companies, which weren’t named in the article.

The Times‘ report comes months after a report accused Facebook of sharing users’ personal data—even when they explicitly instructed the social media giant not to. In June, the newspaper identified at least 60 device manufacturers, including Apple, Blackberry, and Samsung, who allegedly had access to the personal data of users’ friends who thought they’d blocked the feature.

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Facebook was accused of allowing these companies to see users’ friends’ contact information and other private data.

“But the partnerships, whose scope has not previously been reported, raise concerns about the company’s privacy protections and compliance with a 2011 consent decree with the Federal Trade Commission. Facebook allowed the device companies access to the data of users’ friends without their explicit consent, even after declaring that it would no longer share such information with outsiders,” the article claimed.

The outlet noted that Facebook remains under investigation in California for the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which involved a British firm that purportedly used a quiz app on the platform to steal millions of users’ data for political purposes. CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced scrutiny last year for implementing what some called lax policies that allowed for the widespread breach.

A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to The Times that the company is cooperating with authorities in their latest investigation.

The spokesperson said, “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

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