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MANILA, Philippines – In the wake of the controversial Cambridge Analytica scandal, The New York Times reported that Facebook, on Tuesday, June 5 confirmed that at least four Chinese electronics firms were granted private access to user data.
The social media giant disclosed that it has data-sharing partnerships with device makers Lenovo, Oppo, TCL, and Huawei, who is said to have close ties to the Chinese government.
The partnerships, which date back to 2010, gave Facebook an opportunity to promote their platform to mobile users by having the device makers integrate features including address books, buttons, and status updates.
In exchange, the Chinese manufacturers were given access to detailed data on both device users and their friends including religious and political leanings, work and education history and relationship status
Facebook officials said they would be ending their deal with Huawei by the end of the week; while the other partnerships would remain in effect.
Francisco Varela, a Facebook vice president stated that Huawei, whose phones have recently caught the eye of and have been flagged by US intelligence agency officials, stored the shared data on the devices itself, not in their servers.
“All Facebook’s integrations with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL were controlled from the get-go – and Facebook approved everything that was built,” he added.
News of Facebook’s partnerships has again raised concern for some US officials, particularly Senator Mark Warner, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee. He worries of data already being shared with Chinese firms similar to previous incidents involving the Russian government and Cambridge Analytica.
“Well, unfortunately with Facebook, it is a great company, but we’re seeing this pattern repeat itself,” Warner told Axios.
Besides the Chinese firms, Facebook has disclosed that it also granted the same access to other manufacturers which include Amazon, Apple, BlackBerry and Samsung. – Rappler.com