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Zuckerberg defends Facebook in new data row

China Daily | Updated: 2018-12-07 09:29
Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON-Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg pushed back against emails showing the social media giant offering Netflix and other popular apps preferential access to people's data.

A British parliamentary committee investigating whether the social media behemoth was being used to manipulate the results of elections published 250 pages of internal Facebook documents on Wednesday.

They show executives holding discussions about big companies such as Netflix being granted preferential access to user data, even after Facebook had tightened its privacy rules in 2014-15.

The emails feature in a lawsuit filed against Facebook in a California court by the now-defunct US app developer Six4Three.

They were sealed by the presiding judge but seized by the British committee under a never-before used parliamentary enforcement procedure last month.

Zuckerberg said he was writing because he did not want the emails to "misrepresent our actions or motives".

"Like any organization, we had a lot of internal discussion and people raised different ideas," Zuckerberg said in a message posted on Facebook.

Apparent decision

He did not directly address Facebook's apparent decision to give some of the world's most popular apps special access to friend lists and other personal information that many people want to keep private.

"Ultimately, we decided on a model where we continued to provide the developer platform for free and developers could choose to buy ads if they wanted," Zuckerberg wrote.

But he added: "To be clear, that's different from selling people's data. We've never sold anyone's data."

The UK parliamentary committee headed by Damian Collins-a member of Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party-calls the policy of giving apps privileged information about users "whitelisting".

"The idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature of the documents," he wrote in a note accompanying the emails.

The company's critics said the new revelations reinforced their concerns over what users actually know about how Facebook treats their data.

"These kinds of schemes are exactly why companies must be required to disclose exactly how they are collecting and sharing our data, with stiff penalties for companies that lie about it," United States Senator Ron Wyden said in a statement.

AFP-AP

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