Facebook enabled Apple devices to obfuscate data sharing from users, report says [u]

Posted:
in General Discussion edited December 2018
A damning report on Tuesday provides further details on Facebook's shady data sharing practices, already under intense scrutiny for the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, suggesting the social media giant enabled Apple devices to surreptitiously collect information about users without their -- or apparently Apple's -- knowledge.

Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.


Citing "hundreds of pages" of Facebook documents, as well as interviews with former employees and partners, The New York Times reports the social network inked special data sharing arrangements with tech companies including Microsoft, Netflix, Spotify and Amazon. The symbiotic relationships were designed to stimulate growth, but potentially ran afoul of standing legal mandates and Facebook's own ruleset.

The report pulls from an internal Facebook document created in 2017 to track the company's web of partnerships. Detailed within are policies that appear to grant wide-roving third-party access to user information at a level far beyond what Facebook has admitted to publicly.

According to the Times, Facebook afforded certain partners special privilege to bypass standard privacy measures.

For example, Facebook revealed the names of "virtually all" users' friends to Microsoft's Bing search engine without consent, while Netflix and Spotify were granted access to private messages. Through their friends, users' names and contact information were provided to Amazon as Yahoo was able to view their posts, the report said.

The in-depth expose offers further insight and evidence pertaining to data sharing deals Facebook reached with some 60 smartphone manufacturers including Apple and Samsung.

In June, the publication said Facebook granted third-party access to users' personal data prior to the rollout of official Facebook apps for iOS and Android. At the time, Apple said it "relied on private access to Facebook data for features that enabled users to post photos to the social network without opening the Facebook app, among other things." The Cupertino tech giant ended the partnership last September.

Today's report adds to those claims, saying Facebook allowed Apple devices to obfuscate indicators that they were asking for personal data. Additionally, Apple devices were able to access the contact numbers and calendar entries of users who disabled sharing in Facebook's account settings, the report said.

Apple appears to have been unaware of the situation.

Responding to the new findings, Apple officials told the Times they did not know of the "special access" Facebook granted to its devices, adding that shared data stayed on a user's device and was not available to others.

Apple's statement toes the company line on user privacy and attempts to distance the tech giant from Facebook's questionable data sharing policies. CEO Tim Cook offered similar sentiment when asked about Apple's relationship with Facebook in June.

"The things mentioned in the Times article about relationship statuses and all these kinds of stuff, this is so foreign to us, and not data that we have ever received at all or requested -- zero," Cook said at the time.

Update: Netflix clarified its partnership with Facebook in a statement to AppleInsider.

"Over the years we have tried various ways to make Netflix more social. One example of this was a feature we launched in 2014 that enabled members to recommend TV shows and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or Netflix. It was never that popular so we shut the feature down in 2015," a company representative said. "At no time did we access people's private messages on Facebook, or ask for the ability to do so."
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    irelandireland Posts: 17,521member
    Zuck has morality issues.
    baconstangolstmaypscooter63repressthismagman1979macseekerviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 22
    ireland said:
    Zuck has morality issues.
    Ya think? And all these assholes justify it by using the “free market capitalism” mentality and marginalize anyone who has an opposing opinion. Fuck them! Deleting my Facebook account now. 
    repressthisAppleExposedmagman1979baconstanglostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 22
    As if I needed another reason to be happy I’m not on Facebook!

    Still, has any actual harm been done to anyone due to Facebook’s data collection and apparent lack of control of said data? Serious question. 
    cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 22
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 1,001member
    As if I needed another reason to be happy I’m not on Facebook!

    Still, has any actual harm been done to anyone due to Facebook’s data collection and apparent lack of control of said data? Serious question. 
    This x 100000000000

    To date, Facebook has given us ZERO reason to trust them. To the contrary, they repeatedly show their disdain for personal privacy. I work in healthcare and organizations have been fined hundreds of thousands of dollars for violating protocols even when no actual breach of confidentiality occurred. What about Facebook? Time to hold Zuck personally accountable for every breach. Say $10 per account? That would probably negate the national debt.
    cornchipfotoformatmac_dogtyler82pscooter63repressthismagman1979baconstangviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 22
    MplsP said:
    ... That would probably negate the national debt.
    Someone has no idea just how high our national debt is.
    :) 
    cornchipmuthuk_vanalingamrepressthisbaconstangviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 22
    The NY Times reference to Apple in their reporting is very shady. It seems that Facebook found a workaround to Apple's privacy controls and exploited it to fool Facebook users into unknowingly sharing their data. It also seems that Apple was unaware of what Facebook was doing. NYT was very careful to avoid openly accusing Apple of wrong-doing, but the references to Apple in the article are very carefully worded to create the impression that Apple was somehow complicit. Unlike the other tech giants, Apple wasn't a player in any of this, but suggesting that Apple was involved helps get clicks, so away we go. It seems like this was an intentional editorial choice by NYT. That's a super sleazy tactic by NYT.
    edited December 2018 macplusplusred oakrepressthisAppleExposedbaconstanglostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 22
    cornchipcornchip Posts: 1,167member
    pjs_socal said:
    The NY Times reference to Apple in their reporting is very shady. It seems that Facebook found a workaround to Apple's privacy controls and exploited it to fool Facebook users into unknowingly sharing their data. It also seems that Apple was unaware of what Facebook was doing. NYT was very careful to avoid openly accusing Apple of wrong-doing, but the references to Apple in the article are very carefully worded to create the impression that Apple was somehow complicit. Unlike the other tech giants, Apple wasn't a player in any of this, but suggesting that Apple was involved helps get clicks, so away we go. It seems like this was an intentional editorial choice by NYT. That's a super sleazy tactic by NYT.
    If Apple had no clue this type of thing was happening - and I lean towards that being the case - what other apps are doing this type of stuff? I mean fb is one of the “essential” smartphone apps (not on any of my devices), so wouldn’t it be under extra scrutiny? Especially the way fb behaves? I just wonder how could they not know? If they didn’t it makes me worry about the millions of other apps out there. In fact I’d feel more comfortable if there were some backroom deal going on, at least that way I’d know it was a special occurrence and not something that could be flying under the radar for literally thousands of apps. But that’s just me.
    muthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 22
    LatkoLatko Posts: 196member
    This article is just useless and only highly suggestive without specifying the actual workaround used and investigating the assorted responsibilities. Privacy breach or just harvest ? Via or despite Apple ? etc. etc.
    edited December 2018
  • Reply 9 of 22
    MplsP said:
    ... That would probably negate the national debt.
    Someone has no idea just how high our national debt is.
    :) 
    Also no idea how rich Zuckerberg is.  He’d still be a multibillionaire.  
    repressthisbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 22
    As if I needed another reason to be happy I’m not on Facebook!

    Still, has any actual harm been done to anyone due to Facebook’s data collection and apparent lack of control of said data? Serious question. 
    Well, there's the case of a woman being reunited through 'friends you may know' with her stalker. And then there's the Rohinga genocide. And also, there's Russia's whole hearted sponsorship of comrade-1.

    Seems like the list goes on. I'd estimate tens of millions of people have been harmed by FB's commitment to 'domination' (Their early days' chant. No shit.) Perhaps as many as 100,000 deaths in the East, Ukraine, Africa. (Yes. Zuck will say, "We're connecting the world!")

    Connecting the World via murderous information is up there with Big OIl's secret oil wars and assassinations.

    You know what? Back in the 70s, there'd be a protest song about FB's casual evil. Where are you now, Mr Jones?
    edited December 2018 baconstangviclauyycminicoffeewatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 22
    williamh said:
    MplsP said:
    ... That would probably negate the national debt.
    Someone has no idea just how high our national debt is.
    :) 
    Also no idea how rich Zuckerberg is.  He’d still be a multibillionaire.  
    Except our debt is TRILLIONS of dollars...not BILLIONS....TRILLIONS!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    Wasn't the Apple integration of the Public Facebook API something Apple themselves noted when they announced iOS6? Reading about it what it does even now
     https://developers.facebook.com/docs/public_feed/
    seems to describe just the sort of data collection and sharing that Mr. Cook implies Apple had no idea about.

    EDIT: From Apple's announcement at the time:

    – Facebook events are integrated into calendars and your contacts get Facebook connection as well.
    – The App Store and iTunes Store are also getting Facebook integration
    Public Facebook integration API
    – Single sign-on integration
    – You can now post directly to Twitter and Facebook from Notification Center
    – You can use Facebook to share apps, movies, tv shows and more from the stores.
    – Share photos, talk smack from game center, and expect it to be integrated into notification center

    Even default Apple settings allowed Facebook with Siri to bypass a locked phone, no passcode required, to feed posts to Facebook accounts. 


    edited December 2018 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 22
    The Internet is not run for free folks. People are gonna make their money or they will fold their tents. I kinda enjoy the Internet, hope to keep it alive. The kind of crap FB and Google do, however, need to be outlawed. Not 'Opt-in', no 'I understand' buttons, plain and simple outlawed. I think a simple rule of a plain text cookie belonging to a single identifiable entity with little personal identifying info should be enough to make sure I get ads for computing devices and not flower arranging. I mean, how did these companies get the power to do all this for profit when there was such an uproar over the NSA doing less for national security?
    fotoformatbaconstangviclauyycwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 22
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,974member
    Facebook is used by many websites in their commenting section. ESPN is a big one. I can't even read more comments that on the first screen without accepting Facebook's demand for tracking information. (When I click on "Don't Allow" ESPN doesn't give me anymore comments) What kind of activity am I allowing Facebook to track? Just facebook.com or everything I look at in ESPN and ??????

    I don't use Facebook but why should I have to just to read some comments. Newspapers are doing the same thing. Way too many companies have locked themselves into using Facebook so think about the amount of time and money it would cost these companies to get rid of Facebook. Too big to fail? Not in my book and I'd like to see them taken to court big time.


    muthuk_vanalingammagman1979baconstanglostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 22
    Would the purposeful circumvention of security be grounds to have the Facebook app pulled from the App Store?
    mac_dogbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 22
    Gee everyone is shocked that Facebook is sleazy. What did you expect? Especially when it was asking for more personal info than a bank loan application.

    What shocks me is how freely people will give Facebook all of their info. Enough for someone to steal their identity. It like the dark web for dummies. 

    Apple has a problem when it comes to disciplining companies who abuse its rules protecting its customer’s data.  
    Remember when Google was busted for illegally collecting data from Safari even with Apple’s safeguards in place?  All they got was a slap on the wrist. 
    baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 22
    Any other app developer would be banned from the App Store at this point. BAN FACEBOOK!
    mac_dogAppleExposedmagman1979macseekerbaconstanglostkiwiwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 22
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,805member
    Gee everyone is shocked that Facebook is sleazy. What did you expect? Especially when it was asking for more personal info than a bank loan application.

    What shocks me is how freely people will give Facebook all of their info. Enough for someone to steal their identity. It like the dark web for dummies. 

    Apple has a problem when it comes to disciplining companies who abuse its rules protecting its customer’s data.  
    Remember when Google was busted for illegally collecting data from Safari even with Apple’s safeguards in place?  All they got was a slap on the wrist. 
    A technicality,  but Google was not "busted for illegally collecting data" because it's NOT illegal to ignore Do Not Track settings. It's actually common sadly, and thus pretty much a failure. 

    Where they ran afoul of the FTC was (intentionally? Google says accidently) telling Safari users that simply opting out would prevent it when in reality the tracking continued. The FTC found that to be misleading and since they had already agreed to a prior FTC settlement not to mislead users it was an easy decision to find them guilty. Again. 
    edited December 2018
  • Reply 19 of 22
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 373unconfirmed, member
    mac_dog said:
    ireland said:
    Zuck has morality issues.
    Ya think? And all these assholes justify it by using the “free market capitalism” mentality and marginalize anyone who has an opposing opinion. Fuck them! Deleting my Facebook account now. 
    Imagine if this was Apple? THE UPROAR!!

    Those same morons who defend Facebook would create a worldwide hashtag to take Apple down. #BoycottApple
    And every media outlet would be on fire!!

    This is the perfect time for Apple to release a social network. Google+ is shutting down and Facebook users have no alternative!
    Make a default app, boast about privacy and make it more fun to use with less ads, less spam and simpler settings.
    edited December 2018 baconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 22
    macxpress said:
    williamh said:
    MplsP said:
    ... That would probably negate the national debt.
    Someone has no idea just how high our national debt is.
    :) 
    Also no idea how rich Zuckerberg is.  He’d still be a multibillionaire.  
    Except our debt is TRILLIONS of dollars...not BILLIONS....TRILLIONS!
    Yeah.  $10K per account would put a dent in the national debt, not $10.
    watto_cobra
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