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.
Following a lawsuit against the social media giant, Facebook has today had some 250 pages worth of internal emails released to the public by the UK Parliament.
In one email, dated January 23 2013, a Facebook engineer contacted Zuckerberg to say that rival Twitter Inc. had launched its Vine video-sharing tool, which users could connect to Facebook to find their friends there.
The e-mails also lay out how Facebook debated whether to restrict app developers' access to some data unless those developers bought advertising on the social network, a policy the company now says it never enacted.
Zuckerberg's response, according to the email, was to "go for it".
Facebook, in an e-mailed statement to Ad Age, continued to maintain that the company "has never sold people's data" The e-mails, however, do paint a picture of a company concerned by "reciprocity"-what value it could get by allowing developers to build on its platform and receive access to information on users".
"To mitigate any bad PR, Facebook planned to make it as hard as possible for users to know that this was one of the underlying features of the upgrade of their app", the summary said. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said in a statement.More news: President H.W. Bush to lie in state in Washington, D.C.
The U.K. committee seized the documents from app developer Six4Three, maker of a now-defunct bikini-picture search app. Six4Three acquired the files as part of a US lawsuit that accuses Facebook of deceptive, anti-competitive business practices. "We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents". The documents outline various discussion within the company regarding monetizing user data particularly surrounding the 3.0 platform changes in 2015.
Another potentially concerning revelation from the papers has to do with Facebook's acquisition of the now-mammoth chat app, WhatsApp.
The documents also demonstrate the web of companies and services that plugged into Facebook's platform to receive information on users. He'd obtained the documents after compelling the founder of USA software company Six4Three to hand them over during a business trip to London.
One document said such competitor apps had previously needed Zuckerberg's approval before using tools Facebook makes available to app developers. "Of course, we don't let everyone develop on our platform", he wrote.
But by selectively "whitelisting" certain companies and apps in this policy change, the company was able to protect those apps that brought something to the Facebook platform - such as Airbnb and Netflix - while, it's argued, simultaneously blocking out any potential threats, such as the aforementioned Vine.
He added that "enterprising journalists" would eventually "dig into what exactly the new update is requesting, then write stories about how 'Facebook uses new Android update to pry into your private life in ever more terrifying ways-reading your call logs, tracking you in businesses with beacons, etc.". A subsequent email suggests users wouldn't need to be prompted to give permission for this feature to be activated.
Facebook wants the laptop to be evaluated to determine what happened in the United Kingdom, to what extent the court order was breached, and how much of its confidential information has been divulged to the committee.