Facebook let select companies have “special access” to user data, per report

Facebook maintained secret deals with a handful of companies, allowing them to gain “special access to user records,” long after it cut off most developers’ access to such user data back in 2015, according to a new Friday report by the citing court documents it did not publish and other unnamed sources.

These arrangements, which were known as “whitelists,” reportedly allowed “certain companies to access additional information about a user’s Facebook friends,” including phone numbers.

Numerous companies, including the Royal Bank of Canada and Nissan Motor Company, apparently maintained such deals.

Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships, told the that the company had allowed some companies to have “short-term extensions” to this user data.

“But other than that, things were shut down,” he said.

The new report on Facebook is separate from the other disclosure of data sharing with 60 device makers, and the other recent revelation that a “bug” made private posts of 14 million users public.

The news comes as Facebook is attempting to rehabilitate its public image. Since April 25, Facebook has run a national marketing campaign, including television spots that have aired during the NBA Finals, in an attempt to improve the company’s image and its “commitment to doing better.”

“People come to Facebook first and foremost to connect with friends and family, however they have concerns about issues on the platform like fake news, data misuse, click bait, and spam,” Lisa Stratton, a company spokeswoman, emailed Ars earlier this week. “We are taking a broader view of our responsibilities, and we hope this campaign will show that we take that responsibility seriously and are working to improve Facebook for everyone.”

Facebook did not immediately respond to Ars’ request for comment.

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