- Facebook told The Wall Street Journal that it would wind down its data partnership with Huawei by the end of the week.
- Other companies still have active contracts though, including Lenovo, TCL, and Oppo.
- Although many of the contracts are essentially moot at this point, the fact that users have no control over company access is concerning.
This past weekend, an exposé in The New York Times revealed that Facebook has exclusive data partnerships with major electronics companies. These partnerships give the companies in question access to your and your friends’ Facebook data – whether you opt-out or not.
Many of these partnerships – which totaled somewhere around 60 companies – are already terminated. Today, via The Wall Street Journal, Facebook says it will wind down another partnership by the end of this week, this time with Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei.
At least three other partnerships with Lenovo (which makes Motorola smartphones), TCL (which makes BlackBerry smartphones), and Oppo, are still active. Neither Facebook nor any of those three organizations gave the word on when their own contracts would wind down.
Facebook says that no data belonging to Facebook users was saved on Huawei servers. However, Huawei still has access to the data and users cannot prevent that access. This directly contradicts Facebook’s claims that users have complete control over their own data.
The revelation of these exclusive data partnerships via the NYT article adds fuel to the fire already started by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which exposed Facebooks seemingly-lax concern with the use of its platform and its users’ data. These data partnerships also call into question Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony to Congress in March of this year, with some people – including a Congressman from Rhode Island – accusing Zuckerberg of lying to Congress.
It seems rather suspicious that none of these data partnerships were mentioned during Zuckerberg's Congressional hearing.
Yesterday, two U.S. Senators penned a letter to Mark Zuckerberg with five questions about these newly-revealed data partnerships. Zuckerberg has until 5:00 P.M. on June 18 to answer those questions.
Other companies – including Apple – have already come forward to say that their own Facebook partnerships have been terminated for some time.
The partnerships began in 2007 when Facebook was looking for ways to build its presence on mobile electronics. At that time, smartphones weren’t powerful enough to run a full-fledged Facebook app like they can do today, so Facebook gave companies access to user data in exchange for a presence on mobile devices.
Facebook claims that it doesn’t know of any company that misused this data-access privilege, and that access was governed by strict rules in a contract. This is the company’s explanation of why these partnerships were never mentioned during the height of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.