back to article Facebook insists device data door differs from dodgy dev data deal

Facebook on Sunday said an arrangement that gave some 60 mobile device makers access to data about device users' Facebook friends is not at all like the deal it made with app developers that gave rise to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Developers who signed up for access to the Facebook Graph API used to be able to get data …

  1. tom dial Silver badge

    I b have almost nothing to do with Facebook, and

    little knowledge about it, but as I read the nyt, the claim is that device makers (e.g., BlackBerry, in the example they presented) could access a user's FB friends and FoF and so on. This doesn't seem right. It makes more sense if the claim is that the cell providers (e.g., Verizon) can do that. But it seemed that what really was involved was the user accessing the data through the BlackBerry Hub, which he hhad configured to do just that. The article made no claim that anyone but the phone user actually accessed any FB data.

    The Register article doesn't seem to clarify that completely. It would be very interesting to know the truth. Given the nyt general cluelessness about computer technology I don't expect it from the. Hopefully, a follow-up by this publication or its commentariat can shine some light here.

    Until then I am assuming this is another try at stirring up a moral panic.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      'Until then I am assuming this is another try at stirring up a moral panic'

      Thanks for that Zuk! Seems pretty clear this is yet another data-giveaway without any transparency. Who cares whose getting the data first-hand as they can still leak it to further 3rd-parties anyway. That was the essence of FB+Kogan+CA.

      Not that any of this is changing hearts and minds. The 'Dumb Fucks' generation continues to use Facebook / Instagram / WhatsApp as before, and only teenagers are leaving the platform. But that started happening long before with Snap etc....

      1. tom dial Silver badge

        Re: 'Until then I am assuming this is another try at stirring up a moral panic'

        A negative comment - and likely enough a thumb down - but nothing of substance. I hoped for better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 'Until then I am assuming this is another try at stirring up a moral panic'

          Here ya go, the horse's mouth:

          Look at the changes and reverse them to find out what could be done as recently as April, this year.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Its quite Black & White... The world is facing more Facebook Crimes / Lies / Evasiveness:

      "As usual, when Facebook is given an option to be open and transparent, it opts for obfuscation. That's so Facebook.... What's harder to understand is... the ability to collect much more information from Facebook user accounts including religious affiliation, event attendance and data from the social media accounts of Facebook users' friends. What was the point of permitting these hardware makers to have this information?"

    3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      It makes more sense if the claim is that the cell providers (e.g., Verizon) can do that

      I am tempted to make an educated guess. That will be scandal No 3. After this one.

    4. DougS Silver badge

      Depends on what it was intended for

      Apple said they used it on the iPhone to populate contacts off Facebook and the data never left the user's phone. When I installed the Facebook app (which I used to do every few months since it would get bigger and bigger with cached data and reinstalling it made it smaller/faster) it used to ask me if it could access my contacts, presumably to try to suggest friends - I always said no. I never suspected that this might have gone both ways and it would have been able to populate contacts in my phone off Facebook. Another reason I'm glad Facebook doesn't have my phone number, so I don't have to worry about every Facebook friend having my phone number...

      The fact the API gives access to friends of friends data suggests Facebook intended it for more than that, though it isn't clear what. That's the most concerning part, Facebook just said to 60 companies (and who knows if they'll later admit to more) "we'll give you this API that gives you WAY more data than you should ever be able to get, use it however you wish!"

      Facebook should be required to disclose how much money they were making from all these wholesale sales of data.

  2. slimshady76

    Are we really going to take anything coming from a guy whose last name is "Archibong" seriously?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The manufacturer of my device denied all of this...

    while doing research into a dodgy app over a year ago I could see that my phone manufacturer could access social media data.

    Even with the Facebook app uninstalled there were still two other Facebook related SYSTEM apps that could not be removed still sending off data.

    I made multiple phone calls and emails to the manufacturers tech support in question including supervisors.

    All of them flat out denied having any access to the social media data.

    But I see that is in keeping with the whole "Facebook Experience".... Which is to LIE when asked direct questions.

    1. tom dial Silver badge

      Re: The manufacturer of my device denied all of this...

      Details would be helpful; for example, which manufacturer, what model, who installed the FaceBook app that couldn't be removed, were the two FaceBook related system apps installed with it, what social media data could the apps (any of them) extract without the phone user's consent?

      Anyone who could log on the phone presumably (although maybe laboriously) access everything the NYT article described.

      I have no FaceBook (or BlackBerry or Apple) axe to grind, but was raised to be skeptical about claims that seem extreme. If I had the FB app on my cell phone, I would expect to be able to do with it what is claimed, and given that my carrier is Verizon, I would expect that they might be able to arrange to access it too, although I have no evidence that they would. Inasmuch as it is an S3, I expect their only interest is getting me to upgrade to a newer phone, and rather doubt that Samsung has had anything to do with it directly since they sold it wholesale to Verizon.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: The manufacturer of my device denied all of this...

        " was raised to be skeptical about claims that seem extreme."

        Given all the things that Facebook has done and openly admitted to, why do you think these claims sound extreme? They sound like standard Facebook business practice to me.

        1. tom dial Silver badge

          Re: The manufacturer of my device denied all of this...

          Extreme: that manufacturers, who mostly sell the kit wholesale to carriers, would do anything but put the app on the phone, if that. My admittedly semi-antique Samsung S3 (2013) has no FB app; my wife's S5 (2015 as I recall) has, but she never used it. Verizon tailored both, so it is not clear who installed any of the apps they came with. It is not obvious that the never-used FB application could connect to and collect data from FaceBook on its own, or just whose data that would be if it did, or that the data would be sent on to either Verizon or Samsung if it did so. Yet that is the semi-explicit claim of the NYT's rather alarmist "revelation."

  4. YetAnotherJoeBlow

    Maybe it's time

    Time to make these sorts of transactions criminal rather than civil.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe it's time

      One does sense that things aren't going to be rosy for Facebook forever. If the Zuck has been economic with the truth in front of that congressional committee, he might have ultimately cocked it up for all companies that rely on data slurp (Google, Facebook, etc).

      How's he going to explain that to his shareholders?

      Does he himself even know how Facebook Works these days? I can't believe that every line of slurping code has got his own fingerprints on them, so is the company even telling him everything?

      1. MonkeyJuice

        One does sense that things aren't going to be rosy for Facebook forever.

        On the other hand, Facebook shares are higher today than they were before the CA scandal. I'd love to believe their days are numbered, but to a shareholder, the ability to give everyone the middle finger is a positive attribute. No long term damage happens. Nothing ever happens.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe it's time

      Well, making a false representation during a testimony to congress is criminal. However, considering how "soft" his interrogation was during his previous visit, I suspect that it will not stick. There are no penalties for lying to Eu parliament. The rather theoretical penalty for contempt of UK parliament (which will go to his execs and not him anyway) has not been applied since the 17th century.

      So his position is rather good - he and his crew can continue avoiding being truthful and sincere in his representations at the current rate.

  5. getHandle

    Ime Archibong

    Steve, is that you? Steve Bong

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Ime Archibong

      Maybe. "Ime" in most Slavic languages is "name" (some minor pronunciation and spelling deviations from language to language). So to someone who is profficient in "Великий Могучий" or "Не Мамата" languages this sounds almost like "My name is Bong, ArchBong".

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I mean, can't we just ...

    Cleanse it with fire and embed the ashes in concrete.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Foreign government

    "Not mentioned but of particular concern is whether mobile device makers alleged to have ties with a foreign government, such as Huawei or ZTE in China, participated in this program"

    As opposed to your own government, slurping that data and everything else in your computers at the border, where you are physically and immediately at their mercy?

    Or as opposed to those companies (Facebook et altri) alleged governmental ties?

    Why is that of "particular" concern when every man, dog and machine can simply buy whatever data they need, that being Facebook's business model in the first place?

  8. Cuddles Silver badge

    Completely different

    "not at all like the deal it made with app developers that gave rise to the Cambridge Analytica scandal."

    It's a completely different deal to hand all your personal data over to anyone who pays for it? Well I guess that's OK then, as long as you're making multiple different questionable deals there's nothing for us to worry about. It would only be if all the deals were exactly the same in every way that we might want to complain about anything.

  9. JohnFen Silver badge


    What? Facebook is a lying scumbag company?

    Oh, wait, we already knew that. I'm still amazed at how many Facebook employees are OK with continuing to work for such a company. I guess that ethics go entirely out the window when a fat paycheck is involved.

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