Emails show Facebook used Israeli app to monitor phones, mulled selling data

Facebook's seized files published by MPs

They cover the company's handling of user data, including how it allegedly provided some companies with access to data on users' friends despite changes in 2015 to end such practices.

On Wednesday, a British parliamentary committee made public numerous damaging internal emails and documents showing that the company allowed "special access" to users' data to partner companies like Lyft and Netflix while denying access to competitors such as Vine.

Collins notes that a recurring theme in the 250-page cache of documents is that Facebook pushed the "idea of linking access to friends data to the financial value of the developers' relationship with Facebook". "Key points: 1/ Find out what other apps like Refresh are out that we don't want to share data with and figure out if they spend on [advertising]", he wrote on September 18, 2013, to Ime Archibong, Facebook's director of product partnerships.

Damian Collins, head of the committee, added that Facebook shut off access to data required by competing apps, conducted global surveys of the usage of mobile apps by customers possibly without their knowledge, and that a change to Facebook's Android app policy that resulted in call and message data being recorded was deliberately made hard for users to know about.

"We've prepared reactive PR", Osofsky wrote, to which Zuckerberg replied, "Yup, go for it". The statement adds, "The facts are clear: we've never sold people's data".

Facebook knew collecting call records and text message history was sensitive, but did it anyway, according to leaked emails.

Last month, the committee seized confidential Facebook documents from the developer of a now-defunct bikini photo searching app as part of its investigation into fake news.

"We don't feel we have had straight answers from Facebook on these important issues, which is why we are releasing the documents", said Collins in a Twitter post accompanying the published emails.

Executives also seemed concerned that simply enabling Facebook logins and data access for potentially competing platforms could ultimately cannibalize user activity on Facebook itself.

Critics have drawn attention to this kind of behavior as being potentially in violation of USA and European antitrust and anti-monopoly laws, as the dominant Facebook platform can arguably be seen blocking competitors attempts to enter its market.

"Without limiting distribution or access to friends who use this app, I don't think we have any way to get developers to pay us at all besides offering payments and ad networks", Mr Zuckerberg said in a 2012 e-mail.

The documents shine a spotlight on Facebook's behaviour from roughly 2012 to 2015, a period of explosive growth as the company navigated how to manage the information it was gathering on users and debated how best to profit from what it was building. This year, he had to testify in front of U.S. Congress on one such instance of a developer sharing user data with Cambridge Analytica, the political consultancy.

Another potentially concerning revelation from the papers has to do with Facebook's acquisition of the now-mammoth chat app, WhatsApp. What's more, a 2018 review of the feature found that "the information is not as useful after about a year", which the company argues is really only good for low level tasks like sorting contact lists.

The documents had been sealed by a California court. "Of course, we don't let everyone develop on our platform", he wrote.

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