In isolation, I feel these revelations wouldn’t be too damaging to Facebook – day-long story cycles that could be dampened with a statement about accepting terms and conditions and so forth.
But in the context of Cambridge Analytica – and what’s now a bitter row between Facebook and one the most powerful Parliamentary committees – it reads like a serious set of allegations.
Again, all roads lead back to Zuckerberg, his leadership style, and a culture of growth at all costs.
- Facebook allowed some companies to maintain “full access” to users’ friends data even after announcing changes to its platform in 2014/2015 to limit what developers’ could see. “It is not clear that there was any user consent for this, nor how Facebook decided which companies should be whitelisted,” Mr Collins wrote
- Facebook had been aware that an update to its Android app that let it collect records of users’ calls and texts would be controversial. “To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features,” Mr Collins wrote
- Facebook used data provided by the Israeli analytics firm Onavo to determine which other mobile apps were being downloaded and used by the public. It then used this knowledge to decide which apps to acquire or otherwise treat as a threat
- there was evidence that Facebook’s refusal to share data with some apps caused them to fail
- there had been much discussion of the financial value of providing access to friends’ data
Bloomberg’s Sarah Friar digs out this snippet showing the extent to which Facebook used its power to trample competitors. I’d love to see the internal emails discussing Snapchat…
Documents show Zuckerberg personally reviewed a small list of strategic competitors that were not allowed to use Facebook to grow in certain ways without his sign-off pic.twitter.com/Ma3CJTJqgY
— Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) December 5, 2018
Mark Zuckerberg has posted. This snippet caught my eye. I imagine some competitors blocked from operating fully on Facebook will want some justification for being branded “sketchy”, as Zuckerberg describes it here:
Of course, we don’t let everyone develop on our platform. I mentioned above that we blocked a lot of sketchy apps. We also didn’t allow developers to use our platform to replicate our functionality or grow their services virally in a way that creates little value for people on Facebook. We restricted a number of these apps, and for others we asked developers to provide easy ways for people to share their content outside of their apps and to Facebook if they wanted.
Below, Benedict Evans echoing my thoughts on the news value of the email drop, other than to cement an already-held view of Facebook (Evans works for Andreessen Horowitz, a FB investor):
It is possible to believe that Facebook has at some point screwed up, in sometimes damaging ways, without believing that every single internal email discussion of banal corporate activity shows that. It’s getting exhausting having to work out which it is for every single story.
— Benedict Evans (@benedictevans) December 5, 2018