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Meta denies Netflix had access to private Facebook messages – report

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Meta denies Netflix had access to private Facebook messages – report

META. People walk behind a Meta Platforms logo during a conference in Mumbai, India, September 20, 2023

Francis Mascarenhas/Reuters

Allegations that Facebook had allowed Netflix access to user messages resurface after new court documents are made public

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, denies claims that Netflix had access to users’ private messages. The allegation surfaced in a court filing related to a class-action lawsuit against Meta regarding data privacy practices, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday, April 3. 

The document alleges a  “special relationship” between Facebook and Netflix that allowed the latter to acces the former’s  “Inbox API” – a scenario that would have given the streaming giant enough access to Facebook’s user message inboxes

The TechCrunch report noted that the claims surfaced after Elon Musk, the owner of X, responded to the claim of Netflix having access to Meta’s Inbox API with “Wow” and “Yup,” sparking angry replies about Facebook’s data privacy practices and the potential sale of user data.

Adding to the controversy, The Register, in its report, said the deal may have  helped Meta maintain its dominance in social media advertising. 

The deal involves Facebook abruptly cutting original programming for its own content streaming product Facebook Watch in May 2018, effectively withdrawing from direct competition with Netflix. In exchange, Netflix reportedly agreed to increased data sharing of specific types used for Facebook’s ad models, and ad purchases by Netflix.

Meta, however, denies the accuracy of the court filing’s claims. Andy Stone, Meta communications director, reposted the original X post on Tuesday, refuting that Netflix accessed users’ private messages.

Stone explained that the post’s claims are “shockingly untrue” and that the access only allowed users to message their friends on Facebook what they were watching on Netflix directly from the Netflix app. Stone also noted that such agreements are “commonplace in the industry.” 

As TechCrunch noted, Meta’s explanation suggests that Netflix may have had programmatic access to user message inboxes, but denies the platform used the access to read private messages. Programmatic advertising is a kind of technology used for automatic media buying for advertisers.

The New York Times previously reported in 2018 that Netflix and Spotify could read users’ private messages, with Meta issuing a similar denial. – with reports from Angelica Paller/

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