Facebook VP Ime Archibong.
Facebook says that there’s an innocent explanation for why it allowed Spotify and Netflix to access users’ private messages — a behavior that it acknowledged in the wake of a bombshell New York Times report. Facebook says that the access was to allow users of those apps to share messages with each other via Facebook Messenger, like music recommendations on Spotify and movies on Netflix. Importantly, writes Facebook VP Ime Archibong, the social network was not actively providing users’ private messages to users. Facebook says that there’s an innocent explanation for why it allowed Spotify and Netflix to access users’ private messages — a behavior that it acknowledged in the wake of a bombshell New York Times report. In short, writes Facebook VP of Product Partnerships Ime Archibong in a blog post published on Wednesday evening, the social network needed to give those partners special access in order to enable messaging features. “We’ve been accused of disclosing people’s private messages to partners without their knowledge. That’s not true,” Archibong says. The experimental features, which are no longer available, allowed users of Spotify and Netflix to message their Facebook friends directly from those apps. Spotify therefore needed permission to “write” private messages so users could share songs via Facebook Messenger; Netflix needed the same access so viewers of the streaming video service could share links to movies with each other. The same general idea goes for integrations with Dropbox and the Royal Bank of Canada app, which feature Facebook messaging features. “That was the point of this feature — for the messaging partners mentioned above, we worked with them to build messaging integrations into their apps so people could send messages to their Facebook friends,” writes Archibong. Read more: Facebook had a secret data deal with Amazon which flouted its own privacy rules Importantly, Archibong says, these features did not mean that Facebook was actively supplying outside companies with your private messages; that users always need to grant permission for the companies to use these features; and that all of these social sharing features “were experimental and have now been shut down for nearly three years.” Notably, Archibong’s blog post does not mention Amazon, and only contains a passing, irrelevant reference to Apple — two companies that were identified by the New York Times report as also having potentially inappropriate access to Facebook user data. You can read Archibong’s blog post here.
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