Did Facebook Let Clients Access Your Friends’ Data Too?
Here we go again. Just when you thought things were starting to settle down with Facebook’s data controversy comes word that the degree of private information sharing with select clients might have been far more extensive than anyone thought. Late on Friday reports started to come out about a “Whitelist” program in which FB gave a small group of clients access to users’ interactions with specific friends on their platform. They even went so far as to develop a “friend link” metric to measure the intensity or closeness of particular friends – so they could tell the difference between your BFF and long lost high school acquaintance you happened to reconnect with.
Previously FB has made this kind of data available to app developers, but then disabled that capability in 2015. What they didn’t tell the industry or its users was that they continued to offer the data to a special group of Whitelist partners (presumably its largest clients), until recently. While it’s not totally clear what these clients did with FB’s friend link data, it does speak to the length the publisher was willing to go to manipulate data to gain favor from clients. It’s also another breach of user trust FB perpetrated, since it’s safe to assume nobody would have ever guessed they were doing this.
I’m sure the onion will get peeled back on this one over the next few days . . .