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Facebook is cooperating with criminal investigators over the data it shared with partners

It’s been known for quite some time that Facebook’s partnerships with companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Spotify granted “deep access” to data, allegedly without the user’s consent. Facebook maintains that this is not the case, and is now hoping that US authorities will come to the same conclusion in a criminal investigation into the social network’s previous data handling practices.

The New York Times reported on Facebook’s supposedly shady partnerships last year, first thought to span across 60 companies but has since been revealed to include more than 150. In light of the accusations, sources have now revealed to the publication that a New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two of the manufacturers who were previously partnered with the social network.

Facebook has been accused of handing over data outside of user consent, with the NYT alleging that Microsoft’s Bing search engine could “see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends,” while both Netflix and Spotify were supposedly able “to read Facebook users’ private messages.”

The social network has adamantly denied these claims, stating that the partnerships were heavily  publicised when they were relevant and have mostly dissolved since. “None of these partnerships or features gave companies access to information without people’s permission, nor did they violate our 2012 settlement with the FTC.”

Although it remains uncertain when the grand jury’s inquiry into the accusations began, it is known to be running alongside the Cambridge Analytica investigation, which has lasted quite some time itself. The contents of the investigation are being kept under wraps, but it is likely attempting to determine whether third-party companies were granted access to data outside of user consent, and whether it

“We are cooperating with investigators and take those probes seriously,” Facebook said in a statement. “We’ve provided public testimony, answered questions and pledged that we will continue to do so.”

KitGuru Says: In a moment akin to the chicken or the egg, it’s unknown whether CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s new privacy pledge came before or after investigations began. I’m willing to bet the latter, although this is something I cannot confirm at this time.

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