Another ‘sloppy’ Facebook privacy blunder 

More bad news for Facebook via the NYT today, with revelations it offered deep, intrusive data-sharing partnerships with several big companies:

Facebook allowed Microsoft’s Bing search engine to see the names of virtually all Facebook users’ friends without consent, the records show, and gave Netflix and Spotify the ability to read Facebook users’ private messages.

The social network permitted Amazon to obtain users’ names and contact information through their friends, and it let Yahoo view streams of friends’ posts as recently as this summer, despite public statements that it had stopped that type of sharing years earlier.

The only positive the company can take from it, I’d say, is that there are signs of privacy scandal fatigue among the public.

Lately the Times has been offering a kind of York Notes for its major investigations, and the five takeaways from this one are useful. The fourth point sums up the entire saga, perhaps even the company’s whole year: “Facebook was sloppy.”

Here’s Facebook’s response:

We’ve been public about these features and partnerships over the years because we wanted people to actually use them – and many people did. They were discussed, reviewed, and scrutinized by a wide variety of journalists and privacy advocates.


Over on Gizmodo, Kashmir Hill offers some informed speculation about how such data sharing might have been used in practice.