Facebook ramped efforts to justify sharing private messages with Spotify and Netflix, after backlash from a New York Times investigation that revealed the social network had been sharing private data with select corporate partners for years.
At first, both Spotify and Netflix denied the report. But after Facebook detailed its Spotify relationship as part of an effort to explain its actions, the music streamer admitted that it had accessed private data, but no longer did.
In a new attempt to explain its actions, Facebook issued another statement, likening its data sharing practices to asking Alexa to read your emails to you.
"We worked closely with four partners to integrate messaging capabilities into their products so people could message their Facebook friends — but only if they chose to use Facebook Login. These experiences are common in our industry — think of being able to have Alexa read your email aloud or to read your email on Apple’s Mail app."
People could message their friends about what they were listening to on Spotify or watching on Netflix... However, they were experimental and have now been shut down for nearly three years."
Facebook went on to confirm that their deals allowed select companies to “read, write and delete users’ private messages, and to see all participants on a thread” and attempted to explain it this way:
"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.
These partnerships were agreed via extensive negotiations and documentation, detailing how the third party would use the API, and what data they could and couldn’t access."
Lack Of Transparency
It's not surprising that Facebook offered API level access to developers or that Spotify and others took advantage of it to power new features. But many users will find it unacceptable that Facebook and Spotify did such a poor job of telling them about the extent to which their private data was being used.