Facebook's secret documents seized by Parliament are published by MPs

Howard TerryDec 06, 2018

Kramer has been in a legal battle with Facebook since 2015 over developer access to user data.

Parliament's media committee seized confidential Facebook documents from the developer of a now-defunct bikini photo searching app as part of its investigation into fake news.

The 223 pages of communication from 2012 to 2015 between high-level Facebook employees, including founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, show how the social media company debated generating revenue by selling access to data, tracked and fended off rivals and braced for potential blowback as it moved to capture more user data.

Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Viva Tech start-up and technology summit in Paris, France, May 24, 2018.

The documents show an exchange between Zuckerberg and senior executive Justin Osofsky in 2013, in which they made a decision to stop giving friends' list access to Vine on the day that social media rival Twitter Inc launched the video-sharing service. Alerted to the possible competitive threat by an engineer who recommended cutting off Vine's access to Facebook data, Zuckerberg replied succinctly: "Yup, go for it". "Sometimes the best way to enable people to share something is to have a developer build a special goal app or network for that type of content and to make that app social by having Facebook plug into it".

Facebook had objected to their release.

Mr Collins alleged that Facebook maintained "whitelisting agreements" which gave select companies preferential access to valuable user data. He'd obtained the documents after compelling the founder of USA software company Six4Three to hand them over during a business trip to London.

The emails feature in a case being heard in a California court filed against the giant by the now-defunct U.S. app developer Six4Three. The idea of tying access to this data to the developer's relationship with Facebook is a recurring feature throughout the documents.

"This specific feature allows people to opt in to giving Facebook access to their call and text messaging logs in Facebook Lite and Messenger on Android devices", Facebook said in its statement.

"But the facts are clear: we've never sold people's data".

However, The Verge reports that according to the emails Facebook developers tried finding ways to manipulate Android's data permissions so that it could automatically enrol users.

"What has happened here is unconscionable", California Superior Court Judge V. Raymond Swope said to Kramer and his attorneys during the hearing. It deliberately made it harder for users to be aware of this happening in order to avoid bad PR, the MP stressed.

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