By Ali Breland
A Democratic congressman hammered Facebook and its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, following a report that the company is sharing large amounts of its users’ data with other companies.
“This needs to be investigated and the people responsible need to be held accountable,” the top Democrat on the House Judiciary antitrust subcommittee continued.
Cicilline’s tweet came in response to a Sunday New York Times story that detailed “far-reaching data partnerships” Facebook has established with roughly 60 device manufacturers, including Apple, Amazon, BlackBerry, Microsoft and Samsung over the last decade.
The partnerships allowed device makers to obtain Facebook user data like relationship status, religion and political leanings from users and also allowed for the sharing of the data of users’ Facebook friends.
Facebook had started to end these partnerships in April, according to the story.
The report raises questions over whether Facebook violated a 2011 agreement with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that it would not override users privacy settings without first getting their expressed consent.
The FTC is already investigating Facebook over whether it violated this consent decree following revelations of how it handled user data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Facebook has been under significant scrutiny after it was revealed Cambridge Analytica accessed millions of users’ private information without their consent.
Lawmakers forced Zuckerberg to testify on the matter in April and grilled him over how the British research firm was able to obtain data on as many as 87 million Facebook users.
Facebook on Monday pushed back against the New York Times’s report, saying that the data shared with the device makers was never abused.
“These partners signed agreements that prevented people’s Facebook information from being used for any other purpose than to recreate Facebook-like experiences,” wrote Ime Archibong, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships.
“Contrary to claims by the New York Times, friends’ information, like photos, was only accessible on devices when people made a decision to share their information with those friends.”