Facebook Explains Why Third-party Apps Had Access to Messages

Facebook, Inc. once again has to defend their actions, this time regarding its messaging partnerships. Shares dropped more than 7% after a report stated that Facebook allowed intrusive access to user data.  

“In the past day, we’ve been accused of disclosing people’s private messages to partners without their knowledge. That’s not true,” Ime Archibong, vice president of product partnerships, wrote in a blog post.

Facebook said yesterday that the access was misconstrued by the Times, because all it allowed was users to send Facebook messages through third-party apps. Therefore, third-party apps would need access to Facebook’s API for Facebook’s users to send messages through these apps.

Archibong argues in the post that Facebook never would allow its partners to access private Facebook messages without a user’s permission. When Facebook did share user messages with third parties, the company says it did so only “if they chose to use Facebook Login.” Using Facebook Login would allow users to log into third-party sites without having to make a new username or login credentials.

Facebook and Spotify had a deal where Spotify users could share what songs they were listening to with their Facebook friends via messaging. To do so, Spotify needed access to Facebook’s coding.

“In order for you to write a message to a Facebook friend from within Spotify, for instance, we needed to give Spotify ‘write access,’” Archibong wrote. “For you to be able to read messages back, we needed Spotify to have ‘read access.’ ‘Delete access’ meant that if you deleted a message from within Spotify, it would also delete from Facebook. No third party was reading your private messages, or writing messages to your friends without your permission. Many news stories imply we were shipping over private messages to partners, which is not correct.”

A similar example is the deal with Netflix, where Facebook users could message friends about what they were watching. Or the deal with the Royal Bank of Canada which would message receipts from money transfers.

“These experiences are common in our industry — think of being able to have Alexa read your email aloud or to read your email on Apple’s Mail app,” Archibong said.

While this isn’t just a Facebook issue, all big tech companies who rent user data to advertisers will have to reevaluate how they do business as privacy regulations become a priority.

Photo: Fortune Live Media under CC

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Lindsey Conger
Associate News Writer: Lindsey is a writer originally from Chicago but can now be found somewhere in Europe. She is driven by a passion to explore every corner of the world, spread her marketing and business knowledge, and to be able to speak Spanish fluently. Follow her on Instagram at @lindseyaconger

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Associate News Writer: Lindsey is a writer originally from Chicago but can now be found somewhere in Europe. She is driven by a passion to explore every corner of the world, spread her marketing and business knowledge, and to be able to speak Spanish fluently. Follow her on Instagram at @lindseyaconger

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