Back in March, Facebook said it had stopped allowing third-party companies to access users’ friend data in 2015. But, a new Friday report by The Wall Street Journal says the social media giant has let certain companies retain the practice. Known as “whitelists,’ the special deals with some companies allowed them to see users’ friend list, including their phone numbers, as well as the degree of closeness between users.
Facebook confirmed it did share data about users’ friends after 2015 cutoff, claiming that it only did so to test new features and improve users’ experience.
“In 2014, all developers were given a year to switch to the new, more restricted version of the API. A few developers including Nissan and [Royal Bank of Canada] asked for a short extension — and those extensions ended several years ago,” Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships, said in a statement.
Since the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light, Facebook has gone under increased scrutiny for sharing users’ data with third-party companies. the WSJ report calls into question the company’s previous claim about making changes in 2015. According to David Vladeck, director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Consumer Protection Bureau (2009 – 2013), such deals could violate Facebook’s 2012 deal with the FTC that demands the company to obtain regulatory permission for sharing information outside users’ designation as public on the site.