MPs release secret documents showing Facebook targeted rivals

Elias Hubbard
December 5, 2018

The MPs left an empty for the social network's founder Mark Zuckerberg when he refused to appear at an evidence session in Westminster.

Internal emails at Facebook Inc., including those involving Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, were published online by a committee of United Kingdom lawmakers investigating social media's role in the spread of fake news.

The British Parliament on Wednesday released a trove of Facebook documents, which it took possession of amid a larger inquiry into Cambridge Analytica, a firm that used Facebook data to profile users for political purposes.

Six4Three's founder, Ted Kramer, had obtained them as part of a legal discovery process in a USA lawsuit against Facebook that his company has brought against the social network in California.

About 250 pages have been published, some of which are marked "highly confidential".

Facebook warned that the cache of documents alone weren't enough on their own to understand the full story of the decisions it made and how they were reached.

Facebook had been aware that an update to its Android app that let it collect records of users' calls and texts would be controversial.

The committee chair, Damian Collins MP, tweeted: "We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook. which is why we're releasing the documents".

According to Mr Collins' note, Facebook used analytics software to "conduct global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers. apparently without their knowledge".

The memo noted that Facebook whitelisted certain apps, so that even after it changed its privacy policy in 2014/2015, some developers were still able to access data belonging to their users' friends. Facebook has not denied the authenticity of the documents but "has denied that it offered preferential access to data for major advertisers".

The increased exposure of private data generated more revenue for app developers, and this outcome was the key driver behind the changes made by Facebook.

"Like any business, we had many of internal conversations about the various ways we could build a sustainable business model for our platform", Facebook said in an emailed statement.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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